Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Blog Tour for Rat Runners by Oisin McGann; Guest Post

Rat Runners 
by Oisin McGann
Release Date: March 7th 2013
Publishers: Corgi Childrens
Available in: Paperback & eBook 
Pages:  400
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depo

Four young criminals. One simple task: steal a mysterious box from the daughter of a dead scientist. They have to follow her, bug her phone, hack her computer, search her home, all without her knowing.But WatchWorld run this city now. On every street are cameras, X-ray scanners, microphones. Terrifying Safe-Guards can see through walls, hear your heartbeat, analyze the smell of your sweat. Their motto? If you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear.

But Nimmo, Scope, Manikin and FX, who work in the blind-spots of the city's shady underworld, are soon caught in a maze of deception, treachery and murder... will they make it out of the rat-runs alive?

Nothing to Fear 
by Oisin McGann

Have you ever stood in a shop, had a member of staff hover close by, and suspected they were watching you to see if you’d steal something? Ever wondered if someone’s taking note of the things you search for the on the web, or the things you talk about in emails, or on Twitter or Facebook? Have you ever walked past a policeman and checked yourself, just momentarily, to see if you’re doing anything wrong as you just walk along the street?

These are common enough thoughts, though we’re often less inclined to have them as we walk about in public in front of the hundreds of cameras that catch us on film every day. You get so used to them, you don’t pay them much attention – unless you’re a professional criminal. 

But imagine, instead of many of those cameras you see in public places, there was a uniformed figure, their face hidden by a dark visor, their helmet equipped with X-ray cameras, thermographic sensors, chemical analyzers. They don’t just watch you, they can examine you. Then imagine they don’t just stand there. They can follow you. They can enter your home, watch you eat, watch you go to the toilet, watch you sleep.

This is the world of the Rat Runners. Now imagine you are a criminal, not a vicious or malicious type, but a serious crook nonetheless. It’s just the path life has led you down. Everything you do has to be carried out with the knowledge that you can be heard by super-sensitive mikes on the street, you can be seen through walls, you can be identified by your irises or your voice-print or even the way you walk. Imagine a friend of yours asks you to hide a suspicious box, and is killed less than an hour later. That box is the key to solving the murder. As part of your job, you do the occasional bit of work for a very powerful, very dangerous gangster, and not long after the murder, he hires you to find that very same box.

That’s the scenario that kicks off Rat Runners, but the original idea came from something far simpler and more realistic and, ultimately, more insidious.

I am always a little paranoid, when researching stuff online, about what kinds of red flags I’m raising in the hypersensitive, communications-monitoring headquarters of the world. In the past, I’ve done searches on: terrorists; a wide variety of experimental weapons; more conventional weapons such as guns, bombs and knives; instruments of torture; pathology; crime scene forensics; aviation engineering; surveillance techniques; hacking; radioactive material; police procedures; confidence tricks; and details about a whole selection of violent injuries. On the other hand, I have actually stopped short of looking for sites that show you how to make a bomb, even though it would have been useful in a couple of my books. That might be pushing my luck.

But I sometimes think we’re not paranoid enough about the levels of surveillance in our society. Okay, you have to get on with your life. We live in a democracy, right? There’s a line used regularly in the surveillance industry: ‘If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.’ But don’t we all have something to hide? Isn’t that what privacy is all about? You don’t have the right to look into my private life unless it’s impinging on other people’s. And to be honest, I’m really not concerned that the authorities are operating some kind of fascist control network, that we’re all being spied on, East German Stasi-style. Although the Stasi would have wet themselves if they could have had what our governments have now.

I’m not worried about fascism, because this increasingly rigid and controlling system that is growing around us is run by ordinary people like you and me, and most people are not power-hungry police staters. No, what bothers me is that ordinary people like you and me are prone to petty emotions, drives and vices like greed, jealousy, ambition, selfishness and cruelty. We are prone to making mistakes. Our bureaucracy gets it wrong on a regular basis, and the more power that bureaucracy has, the more influence it has over someone’s life. We’re reaching a point where some person I don’t know could mistype something, or point and click on the wrong thing, or fail to fill in a box, or leave their laptop on the train by accident and, as a result of that one stupid act, could have a fundamental affect on someone’s life. And the more surveillance there is, the more information they have on you. And the more information they have, the greater the effect on your life. That’s what worries me.

In Rat Runners, I didn’t want the story to be about bringing down this system. I wanted it to be the environment in which these young criminals take part in crime/mystery/action stories . . . which can be used to explore this environment. And these protagonists have one major advantage over the likes of you and me. They’ve grown up in a surveillance state, and have picked up the skills to avoid attention, to stay off the grid and elude the army of watchers. It’s how a bunch of kids can do things that others can’t. They may face gangsters, hit men and corrupt police officers, but they can keep themselves safe from some stupid clerical error or the capricious click of a mouse.

Which is more than most of us can do.

Oisin McGann
Author Bio;
Born in Dublin in 1973, Oisín spent his childhood there and in Drogheda, County Louth. He started writing and illustrating stories in copybooks when he was about six or seven, setting himself on a path that would steer him well clear of ever obtaining of a proper job.

Despite his writing habit, he spent most of school convinced he was going to become a zoologist, an aspiration he lost after taking his first art exam in third year at St. Olivers Community College. Unable to conceive of a way to make a living from writing fiction after his Leaving Cert., he decided to fund his dreams of being an author by working as an illustrator. He signed up for a design and print foundation course in Ballyfermot Senior College, Dublin, in 1990 and then studied animation at Dun Laoghaire School of Art and Design.

In 1992 he dropped out of college to set himself up as a freelance illustrator/artist, serving the publishing and design industries. In 1997, he took up a position as Background Layout Designer for Fred Wolf films, working on the animated series of Zorro. After completing his contract, he decided to expand his horizons and left for London in February 1998 to seek his fortune. He found gainful employment as a security guard, watching over trains and then hospitals.

In January 1999, he joined the M&M Consultancy, a small advertising and design firm, as art director and soon expanded into copy writing. After three and a half years of working in advertising he became increasingly concerned for his immortal soul. He returned to Ireland in the summer of 2002 much as he had left – with no job, no home and some meagre savings. He set himself up as a freelance illustrator once more, before getting his first books published in 2003.

Oisin now works full-time as a writer and illustrator. He lives somewhere in the Irish countryside, where he won’t be heard shouting at his computer.
Official Author Website: http://oisinmcgann.com/

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I needed to thank you for this very good read!!

I definitely loved every bit of it. I have you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

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