I am writing my first spy novel based around the character Byron Rose, a billionaire hedge-fund manager CEO of Rose Capital who is also a field asset for the CIA.
I am raising funds to cover the production and printing of the first 500 books as well as research-related costs. This particular novel takes place predominantly in 5 locations -- Washington, DC, Palo Alto, California, London, Ra'anana, Israel and Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Having flown more than 6 million miles over the past 25 years around the globe, and having lived in 3 continents, my experiences are pretty rich.
A snippet of the first chapter is below....
6:18 am -- London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 1
Byron Rose adjusted his first-class seat as the Boeing 787 plane pulled up to its gate at Heathrow Airport. The flight from Dulles Airport was non-eventful with the exception of a touch of strong turbulence half-way across the Atlantic. Byron, being the top-paid hedge fund manager for more than 5 years, travelled the world’s capital cities and could demand a meeting with almost any CEO in the planet within 24 hours. His firm, Rose Capital, had amassed over $545 billion under management, with more than $100 billion in a series of hedge funds he directly managed. Given the leverage he was comfortable using for or against a stock, his fund was capable within minutes of being a trillion dollar ally or enemy. It took him almost 10 years after having left Goldman Sachs, to get his group of hedge funds to the size and power they were. Byron, with his reputation and track record, was every CEO’s worst nightmare. Personally, Byron had taken over $1.5 billion in pay for his hedge fund performance over the past 5 years. But the sovereign wealth funds in Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Beijing that backed him made tens of billions. Unlike others in his pay grade, Byron continued to fly commercial, albeit first-class rather than lease his own G6. Having come from a humble home in Virginia and public schools, his sheer tenacity and innate brainpower got him full-paid scholarships to Harvard then Dartmouth to propel him into Goldman Sachs as a stock research analyst. He remained true to his roots.
The cool, overcast weather was typical of London. It was a brisk morning, but Byron likes the crispness of the air as it rejuvenated his body. Byron is a lean, 197 pound body with less than 15% body fat. His muscle ratio is understated by his custom-made Saville Row dark blue wool suit. Byron was not headed directly to meet the CEO of Affinity Semiconductor. A black limousine was awaiting him at arrivals to whisk him down to Vauxhall where the SIS building on the Thames, home of the British Intelligence agency MI-6, would be his first stop. While Byron was by day the ultimate mover-and-shaker on Wall Street, he was recruited by a CIA team at Langley to leverage his access and travel to help gather certain intelligence of interest for them. To Byron, this was a win-win. He loved his country and felt compelled to give back. But the intelligence he gathered was the cornerstone of his trading success. His access to senior management, combined with his analytical capabilities made him a very formidable hedge fund manager to be reckoned with. Rather than trying to make money with racks of super-high performance computers doing high-frequency trades, or speculating on the volatility of currencies or commodities to squeeze out a return, he focused on the fundamentals of a company to determine whether he would be a buyer or seller of the stock. While he had his list of technology-related questions around the next-generation semiconductors scheduled to begin shipping early next year etched in his memory, it was clear that MI-6 wanted some additional insights that he would pry from the lips of David Windslow, the CEO and Executive Chairman of Affinity.
A quick glance at his watch… it was still very early in the morning in Washington, DC. His wife, Michelle, would be sound asleep. She put in very long days as a legal counsel at USAid in Washington. At times her travel schedule would rival his due to the global mission of that program.
10:24 am - Ra’anana, Israel
The sun pierced through the crowded third floor flat. By mid-morning the Mediterranean sun showered its intensity on the Ra'anana skyline. Home to dozens of very successful Israeli hi-technology firms and adjacent to Herzilya, the wealth accumulated over the past three decades was visible throughout the city of 50,000. Dov Badorev, a Jewish Russian who immigrated over 25 years ago to the country was staring out into the horizon. He had assembled a team of six of the sharpest computer minds in the country for this project. With millions of dollars available at his disposal from a well-known organization back in McLean, Virginia, only the limitations of man's brain would be a viable reason for failure on this project.
The team was predominantly former Russian and Ukrainian scientists that emigrated 20 years ago. A few had a background in theoretical physics, some in neural networks, one in genetic mutation and, of course a few held post-doctorate positions in computer science. As high-frequency trading shifted from its roots in the US to other exchanges across the globe, a sudden realization that a genetically mutating algorithm could spawn hundreds of millions of concurrent high-frequency virtual machines carrying out differing and largely competing strategies simultaneously. The potential to radically disrupt capital markets and cause panic and social disorder was a real one, though only the intelligence community spoke about it, and in the quietest of voices at the moment. This team was tasked with detecting the presence of genetic mutation in the system so a circuit breaker could be pulled to avoid a potential meltdown of civilization. The sheer quantity of real-time data that had to be aggregated and analyzed was beyond human comprehension. Each high-frequency virtual machine was capable of executing 20 million trades per second. The proverbial needle-in-a-haystack challenge has 8 teams around the world being funded to come up with the most viable solution.
Dov intuitively shifted his body left milliseconds before a loud explosion outside the apartment shattered the large window.
Risks and challenges
Of course, one risk in writing a fictional novel is completing it. This involves being able to weave to complex plot with intriguing characters into a coherent and converged outcome. Writer's block is always a concern, and bursting through that in a timely fashion is a necessity.
A secondary risk is that the plot is mundane and fails to engage the audience. The novel will succeed if the characters are well developed and plot keeps the audience on their toes.
To avoid the later risk, select members of the prospective audience will be asked to periodically review parts of the publication and provide feedback.
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