I love this 5MinuteInterview thing! I like reading interviews, and yet I don’t, because they can be so long and boring. So I figured, hey, let’s remove the long and just enjoy the interesting bits.

And this one’s an interesting bit alright. (Byte?) Jerry Gentry, @JerryLGentry  is the author of the newly released techno-thriller, SYN:FIN. And he’s our 5MinuteInterviewee. I admit, I had a total geekgasm reading this interview. The book’s better. But all that’s coming Thursday when I review SYN:FIN. Right now we’re just going to get to know Jerry.

I believe your genre is techno thriller. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) What got you started in this genre?

That is right.  At least my first published book, SYN:FIN, is a technothriller.  You write what you know and in TRW I am a technologist.  I also grew up reading scifi – Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Herbert.  My actual first book was a futuristic scifi work.  I spent years working through the backstory and getting it written.  I put it aside to start working on SYN:FIN and when I went back to it I saw nothing but major re-write.  It’ll happen, but not this year.  All of the books I have written or have outlined waiting in queue all revolve around technology.  I’ve been working in IT for more than 30 years, mostly in network IT.  I’ve done everything from pulling telecom cable to managing a global network operations team of over 200 people.  The thing I love about network technology is that it seems to reinvent itself every few years.  But it does it by recasting existing technology.  Most of the high speed networks we marvel at today are all derived from the transmission principles of RF (Radio Frequency) technology.  Don’t get me wrong, the gigabit networks based on optical fiber are truly impressive.  We are finally getting to the point where the speeds of processing and network are reaching parity.  Batteries still screw everything up!  I’m also amazed at the miniaturization impact.  Just about everything we have is getting built with a communications device.  It was really that thought ( I got it from a presentation from a vendor about 5 years ago) the got me thinking about the premise of SYN:FIN.  As much as I love technology, it is a backdrop in the books.  It is an impetus and a means for me to get some interaction going and add the taste if intrigue.  I really hate tech based books that blow the technology part.  It is very distracting and frustrating.  I also hate books that aren’t written with respect for the reader’s abilities.  BTW, my first draft of SYN:FIN really sucked!  Have I digressed enough from your question?  It’s my ADD!  Or maybe it’s that I am just a man with short attention span.

Where do you learn all this stuff?

Well, I’ve been well trained over the years.  The good thing is that I have seen the progression and can see future options that make sense.  I mean, it’s been a long time since I did command line entries on a Cisco Router, but I can still read a protocol decode (you can see an image I captured on the cover).  When I started managing and moving into more strategic roles, I focused on the impact of technology on business functionality.  It really is a short step from what is being thought of today to what will be available tomorrow.  In my current role as an IT consultant, I am more focused on how technology impacts the design of an IT organization and processes.  The thing I draw on is the way people interact while dealing with technology impact.  I’ve been able to work with a lot of IT people at many levels and I think it adds credence to my characters.  They are graced with bits and pieces of people I’ve observed, but they are still their own people. When I imagine two smart women, who have totally different backgrounds but are good at what they do, driving in a car together I can just hear in my mind how they will talk.  It is like when I kick off the writing I transition to seeing a movie unfold in my mind and I’m doing what I can to capture the scenes in words.  The characters are all very real, they aren’t caricatures of real people.  They always surprise me and let me know when I’m not being honest with them.  Don’t worry.  I don’t hear voices, but I do watch the movie!

What’s your favorite piece of tech that you own or use at work?

Well, all of the technology just serves to interrupt me from social networking and playing my guitar.  I work at home these days.  It’s one of the benefits of being in consulting with a small firm (16 people).  We do have a staff call every week and the entire company is on a multi-image video conference.  It’s funny to see all 16 of us at the same time in T-shirts and various states of disrepair.  I’m going to wear a suit next week so I can be the new revolutionary!  I love my MacBook Pro and do enjoy my iPhone and its ability to do so many things.  When I think about it, though, the one tech device I use the hell out of is my Kindle 2.  I commuted to New York City 3-4 days a week for about 10 years.  The Kindle was with me every day for the 1.25 hour train ride.  The true test of a technology is how easily it disappears into your life.  The metaphor of a book is so fundamental.  It, like a bicycle, is just hard to improve on.  Amazon realized that and didn’t try to eliminate the book, just eliminate the things of a book that could be bothersome, like weight and wanting reding options depending on your mood.

What’s the least tech-y thing you like to do?

I run and bicycle, although technology is fundamental to those sports.  I like them because they are pretty simple once you get past the shoes and the bike.  You pretty much have just you to count on.  I mean a flat tire is still a flat tire and a tune up is all about wrenches and oil.  As far as writing goes, I do a lot of my first draft and thought catching using a manual typewriter or a fountain pen into a Moleskine notebook. I tell you, I just have to type out about two sentences and things just start to flow.  I love the tactile feel.  The way the keys push back at you and how the typebar slams against the platten.

Have you noticed how each answer has gotten progressively shorter?  There’s that attention span thing again!
Did you get all that? Jerry’s visiting again tomorrow when he judges 5MinuteFiction for us, and then I’m reviewing SYN:FIN on Thursday. So don’t miss all the fun! There will be books to win.