Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Serendipity of An Inauspicious Beginning


Breaking Bad's Crossroads Motel.



This is the third time in five flights that I have experienced some virus within a day or two of the flight.  This time at the beginning of my book tour.  It led to the last-minute cancellation of the kickoff event at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale—my apologies to all—but the odds are that I’ll be up and running in time for my event today.  Here’s hoping that “the show must go on mentality” will carry the day…and me to Book Carnival in Orange, CA.


I know we’re not supposed to directly promote our new books more than once, but as I lie in my motel room (see above and imagine “Breaking Bad”) praying for this to pass, all I’m up to doing is posting an article I wrote that came out last Sunday in Mistress of Mystery Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare blog. 




It’s titled, “How AI inspired my new Andreas Kaldis novel, At Any Cost.”


Attention fellow Luddite mystery authors, I’ve come to realize there is no need to fear the Metaverse or what it portends. We just need learn to write around it…not employ it. As one who bases his stories in the present rather than the past, it will be hard for me to ignore the implications of AI any more than I can ignore the existence of cellphones, computers, and DNA testing capabilities. But whether AI will be front and center to a plotline or just tangential, depends on what sort of story I intend to tell.


To state the obvious, storytelling is about the story, not ancillary matters that detract from its telling. If AI doesn’t further the plot or interferes with my fast-paced style, it’s out.  I’ve come to accept that what my future plotlines might be shall continue to depend upon what the mystery writing gods have in store for me, not AI.


As you may know, I write the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series of Greece-based mystery thrillers that play out against serious societal issues confronting far more than just Greece.  That niche has me continually on the lookout for what’s percolating on the edge of societal change.  A little over two years ago, as I was tinkering with using the history and intrigues surrounding Greece’s horrid wildfires for the backdrop to what is now my just released 13th novel in the series (At Any Cost), I noticed a surge in internet and corporate interest over what some labelled the “metaverse.”


With my interest now piqued, and no clear explanation offered for what constituted this metaverse, I delved into it.  In what I can only describe as an epiphany, the very real threats posed by the bright and shiny lure of this digital metaverse jumped out at me as a solid foundation for the story I wanted to tell.  But for those threats to come to pass, one needed (a) extraordinary electrical power, (b) virtually unlimited financial capabilities, (c) world-class digital savvy, and (d) a ruthless unchecked autocratic nature.


Lo and behold, my research revealed that all four elements already existed in abundance in Greece.  Greek forests destroyed by wildfires had been approved by the government for hosting wind and solar power generating facilities, and a trio of autocratic world powers possessing vast financial resources, top notch technical skills, and ruthless histories were and continued to be deeply involved in Greece.


I sensed that once the trio’s goal of becoming masters of the metaverse attracted media attention, public panic and a new form of “arms race” would undoubtedly ensue.


I finished that book over a year and a half ago, well before wide-spread concern broke out over Artificial Intelligence/ChatGPT, more horrific wildfires, and the visible banding together in common cause of a trio of the world’s most autocratic powers.


As for why I had that epiphany, I wish I had an answer. I just seemed to end up there.  Writing by the seat of one’s pants can be like that. In the past, I’ve been called a “prognosticator,” a writer whose “finger is always on the pulse of modern-day upheavals,” and even “Cassandra” by some.  That’s all flattering to hear, though I never forget that things did not end well for Cassandra.


Hmm, perhaps ChatGPT can rework Cassandra from an inevitable axe murder victim, into more of a thoughtful Spock-type character rummaging around the Starship Enterprise predicting things. Just a thought.


And for the record, AI played absolutely no part in the writing of AT ANY COST … or Aeschylus’ Agamemnon. 




Jeff’s Upcoming In Person events:

Saturday, February 10, 2:00 p.m. PT
Book Carnival
Author Speaking and Signing
Orange, CA

Thursday, February 15, 7:00 p.m. PT
Third Place Books
Author Speaking and Signing
Lake Forest Park, WA

Saturday, February 17, 2:00 p.m. CT
Hellenic American Women’s Council
Lincolnwood Public Library
Author Speaking and Signing
4000 Pratt Avenue
Lincolnwood, IL

Wednesday, February 21, 6:00 p.m. ET
Mysterious Bookshop
Author Speaking and Signing
New York, NY

Friday, February 23, 7:00 p.m. ET
Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Author Speaking and Signing
Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday, February 29, 7:00 p.m. PT
Vroman’s Bookstore
Author Speaking and Signing
Pasadena, CA

Saturday, March 9, 3:00 p.m. CT
Murder By The Book
Author Speaking and Signing
Houston, TX


  1. Very interesting piece--but I do hope you feel better soon, Jeff!

  2. Ditto. And the book is as good as the story line sounds here. Excuse me while I read the next chapter...

    1. Wow, thank you, Michael. Don’t let me keep you from your reading. :) —Jeff

  3. "Embracing 'The Serendipity of An Inauspicious Beginning' is a testament to the beauty of unexpected journeys. Life's twists and turns often lead to unforeseen opportunities and growth. This post captures the essence of finding silver linings in seemingly inauspicious moments. Here's to celebrating the serendipitous nature of our experiences and fostering a mindset that embraces the unknown. May each step forward be guided by Ray Visions, turning every beginning, regardless of how inauspicious, into a remarkable journey of discovery and transformation."

  4. Get well soon, Jeffrey, and I hope you enjoy the book tour.

    1. Thanks, Kim. I have and I am. It's great to be back on tour. Jeff

  5. Sorry to hear of your ails of your travels/travails, my friend. At All Costs sits ready on my reader, awaiting the completion of my current adventure. I'm eager to, once again, place my mind in your very capable hands...

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