Nation of Enemies

By H.A. Raynes

Author H.A. Raynes published NATION OF ENEMIES, A THRILLER with HarperCollins & Witness Impulse. A timely political thriller in the current election year as the United States ushers a polarizing figure into the White House. 

Predictable vs. Prescient

Waking up to news of the Las Vegas shooting gave me chills. The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place at a concert. I wrote about a devastating event just like this about four years ago. And just in the past week a strange story came out of Cuba about Sonic Weapons being used against U.S. diplomats. I used such a weapon in my earlier writing as well. It was surreal to read about it in the news. 

Since publishing NATION OF ENEMIES (NOE for short) in August 2015, I've had several conversations and received many comments about how my novel is "prescient." Events happened that were disturbingly similar to parts of my plot. From biochips to school shootings, election issues to immigration bans. And though NOE takes place in the near future world of 2032, that world was suddenly closer. Seemingly on our doorstep. 

I began keeping a log of news stories until I couldn't keep up with how often they were being published. Here's a sampling from early last year: (*these are not Nation of Enemies spoilers, things would truly have to go even more awry...)

2/20/16 - Uber Driver Goes on Shooting Rampage in Kalamazoo STORY HERE

2/18/16 - Apple's Battle With The FBI - Brand vs. Privacy  STORY HERE

2/1/16 - DNA Gets Kid Kicked Out Of School  STORY HERE

1/27/16 - New Technology Can Track Workplace Shooters  STORY HERE

1/26/16 - Oregon Militia Stand-Off  STORY HERE

1/26/16 - Danish Parliament approves legislation that enables "Immigration authorities to seize jewelry and other personal valuables from refugees."

1/19/16 - Several MA area high schools receive bomb threats, schools close. STORY HERE

1/16/16 - The genetic breakthrough that may allow scientists to make permanent changes in a person's DNA.  STORY HERE

I had to stop there or this post would be several pages long.

I conjured NOE out of both my imagination and exhaustive research into subjects such as genetics, emergency room medicine, the history of terrorism (both worldwide and within the U.S.), elections, and immigration. 

Horrifyingly,  current events are taking shape that give credence to my imagination. But, more importantly, they demonstrate that certain aspects of our future are very much predictable. Spend an hour (or days, like I did) reading up on genetics and you will see what the future will look like in medicine ten years from now. The same goes for terrorism. In NOE I spent a lot of time educating myself on "lone wolves" and hate groups, reading posts on their websites and trying to understand their mindset. I'll never understand it, but we have to at least know where it's coming from in order to stop the hate from spreading. Because it is surely spreading. 

Since 2014, hate groups in the U.S. have grown by over 17% (and they can be categorized into 10 groups such as Christian Identity, Neo-Confederate, Anti-LGBT, Racist Skinhead, Anti-Muslim, and Neo-Nazi, and more). These groups produce lone wolves with their shared values who act of their own volition. They are unpredictable and don't follow group patterns known to the FBI. They're hard to track, especially if they eschew technology. You get the point. 

I could write another book about this but I won't - I can't - because it's too close to reality. We're already steeped in the horror. At times like this when it's easier to retreat into our comfort zones, to stay at home and to remain in our bubbles of safely that we mistakenly think we live in, I encourage you to read. 

You may not be researching for a book, but you ARE researching for life and your family. The more we all know and understand, the more we can work to change society and rid ourselves ofhate. Because as hate is growing, so should we. 

In the spirit of this election year...a giveaway!

Hi everyone!

In the spirit of this election year and all the...colorful(?!) issues that are swirling around us in the news every day, I'm hosting a giveaway for NATION OF ENEMIES! Refugees, candidates' medical histories and questionable ethics...it's a timely thriller, don't you agree? The giveaway is on Amazon (ebook version). People say it's "in the vein of Michael Chrichton and James Rollins" - you can see all the great reviews on goodreads and on Amazon. Here's the link to put your name in the hat! Happy reading!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3d64712f6c99e9dd 

And see it here on Goodreads

TED Talk - Like fiction, but fact.

In Nation of Enemies, I write about CRISPR (in the future of course, 2032). If you don't know about it, you should. It may just determine the future of your grandchildren...and certainly your great grandchildren. 

Gene drives could eliminate disease - or destroy everything. 

 

This TED talk explains how CRISPR gene drives allow scientists to change sequences of DNA and guarantee that the resulting edited genetic trait is inherited by future generations, opening up the possibility of altering entire species forever. More than anything, the technology has led to questions: How will this new power affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? Are we gods now? Join journalist Jennifer Kahn as she ponders these questions and shares a potentially powerful application of gene drives: the development of disease-resistant mosquitoes that could knock out malaria and Zika.

Creativity = Happiness

Recently I was honored to be asked to be a guest on the Live Happy podcast. They wanted me to talk about Creativity and how / where it fits into life, and furthermore, how it contributes to happiness. Luckily, that's sort of my mantra - I'm happiest when I'm writing. And now that I've made it firmly part of my life, balanced between kids, work, husband, dog, house, friends (not necessarily in that order), etc. I'm not letting go. Making time for myself and my creativity is key to the rest of my life. If you have a few minutes, check out the podcast!

Creativity—one of 10 practices for choosing joy on the #LiveHappyNow podcast!



Would you edit your children's genes?

It was hard to believe I was reading news, not fiction. Nature.com's article posed the question: Should you edit your children’s genes?  

When I think back on my life, I wouldn't change a thing. Truly - good and bad - it makes me who I am. But my sister may answer differently. At 34, she's already had three major surgeries. And as she is potentially on the cusp of another, knowing her, she'd likely say something to the effect, "Hell yes, I'd edit out my defective genes!" 

So if given the opportunity,  perhaps she'd be able to delete the degenerative scoliosis gene and clear up that hole in her heart. Now that I'm thinking about it, if such a gene exists, it's tempting to me to obliterate my chronic daily migraines. Hmmm. I know there's a gene - ACTN3  (I wrote about it in Nation of Enemies) that makes people essentially have greater physical power and athletic abilities, strengthening legs among other things. I've always been unathletic...it's tempting to want to change such a trait. But all of it's tempting, and that's the problem. Should we be able to choose? I love making lists and this seems like a good time for one: (caveat - I'm inventing things I assume could be modified by gene editing in the future)

Good Arguments for Gene Editing: 
Cancer
Scoliosis
Heart Disease
Alzheimers
Blindness
Degenerative diseases (a seemingly endless list)

Bad Arguments for Gene Editing: 
Baldness
Athletic inability (ie. the fact I can't throw a ball)
Skin elasticity (if that's a gene?)
Eye color
Increase IQ
Cosmetic choices (again, a seemingly endless list)

Plenty of people would opt-in to many of these. And many wouldn't. But if you can choose to do one...why not do the other? It would only take a generation or two to slide off that slippery slope. To forget that people aren't perfect, physically and mentally. But even with these changes, there is no perfection as I think we all know. I understand the desire to eliminate disease, the pain and suffering caused when bodies fail us. 

Insurance companies are monitoring us more now. They - and our employers - incentivize us if we're healthy. And as we age, we're penalized by rising insurance costs. Crazy, considering that yes, we're aging, and THIS is why we've been paying health insurance our whole lives. And regardless of our age, it goes without saying that we all WANT to be healthy. We're increasingly pushing ourselves with apps and devices like fitbits that help us monitor our movements and to squeeze in a ten-minute exercise session in our busy day. These can certainly be good tools to contribute to a healthy lifestyle. What's not good is when we are required to or asked to share this information to "help" our doctors/insurance companies monitor our care. That's where things are headed.

Food for thought. Recently a journalist asked a young woman born blind if she would erase her blindness, if it had been an option, if she wished she were born with sight. In short, she didn't. She enjoys seeing the world as she sees it. It's what she knows. It's still beautiful, it's still life. It's just not perfect.