Meet Author Charlotte Bennardo

Bec and a few of the characters in Blonde OPS aren’t the only ones skirting the edges of the law. Take us, for example. No, I have never been arrested (or Nat to the best of my knowledge). The most illegal thing I’ve done is a speeding ticket. I don’t cheat on my taxes because I’m too afraid of the repercussions.

So why is the FBI flagging me? Sending me this message:

F.B.I. Warning! Your browser has been blocked up for safety reasons listed below. All activities of this computer have been shut down.

And I got this message on my browser over 400 times.

I was researching for Blonde OPS. In the book, the main character, Bec Jackson, is a hacker. So she has to hack. And since the story revolves around her trying to solve an attempted murder and threats against the First Lady, we had to know our stuff. Natalie went to a hacker convention, H.O.P.E. (Hackers on Planet Earth) and gleaned info from her husband and son who are good with computers and other technical aspects. I researched:

*Protection of the First Lady
*The Secret Service
*The FBI
*The Vatican
*How To Break Into a Digital Lock

See how this looks? 

In the post-9/11 world, this sets off a lot of alarms. I’m sure when I go through the airport, I’ll be yanked out of the line for a ‘random security check.’ (I usually am anyway because I’m blonde, a woman, mother of three, writer of fiction so I fit the ‘we’re-not-trying-to-profile profile. Only I’m sure the checks will now be more invasive. Think I’ll take the train…)

But that’s how to write a book—do the research! If you want to people to believe it, you have to have a factual basis. And it’s funny that while some lay people thought the premise unbelievable, hackers have praised us for our plausibility (and yes, all the hacks are possible, but we don’t give you all the info, go earn your own FBI warning!). The President of the United States has one of the most elite protection details—his wife, not as much, so if crazies can get to him, like they did President Ronald Reagan, getting to the First Lady is very possible for the dedicated insane. The research had to be truthful, detailed, and public.

I’m sure by now those officials interested in my doings know I’m a fiction writer, not a home-grown terrorist: I support the PTO, I have co-authored three young adult books, I have kids, I love American muscle cars, I have lots of silly, loveable friends on Facebook, and I play handbells in my church. Nothing scary here. I’ve even offered to send them a copy of the book, but I haven’t heard back from them.

If the FBI thinks I’m doing effective research, then I know I’ve done a good job.

(Right guys? If you’re following me, I’m making cookies today. But you probably know that…)

Apryl Baker

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