Today, I'm sharing an excerpt from the first novel of my AI Romance series.
This is how it begins. Although no one actually knows the exact moment when Carla's program became sentient. Presently, she believes its editing of her novels is perhaps 'too accurate'.
Carla Simon is a best-selling novelist besieged by death threats and lawsuits because her stories keep turning out to be true. She is considered an extraordinary researcher, uncovering facts unknown by field experts.
The truth is far simpler and more disturbing. Carla has a software program that “fixes” her mistakes and rewrites her novels so they are error-proof both in presentation and in content. The result is beautifully written and completely accurate stories about real people and events.
Some of those people want her silenced forever. When a woman, mistaken for Carla, turns up dead in New Zealand, she must face the hard truth about her program. But first she has to survive the assassin who has never failed to deliver on a contract.
Carla remembered her last meeting with Dan Anderson, the Editor in Chief at her publishing house, right before she’d decided it was time to take a long-needed respite.
The moment she’d stepped into his office, he began his rant. “How can you be so stupid? If you’re going to use real people to base your characters on, you have to change some of the facts. Change their name, their profession. For God’s sake! It’s a simple enough thing to do!”
“But I’m not writing about real people. They come from my imagination.”
“Really? Then how do you explain this one? Harry Jacobson. Lives in a city called White Hall, Arkansas. Two children, ages twelve and fourteen. He’s in love with a librarian named Jessie Smith.”
“I know the story—I wrote it.”
“I’m not talking about the story. I’m talking about the lawsuit we’ve just been hit with by his wife, Myra Jacobson, for injury to their two children.”
“A real Myra Jacobson is suing me?”
“Yes, and she doesn’t want to settle. Whitehall is a small town, and she’s very angry about having her life laid out for all the world to see. She wants five million in damages.”
Carla collapsed onto the couch and buried her face in her hands. “I should just quit writing and disappear.”
Dan grew nervous at the word “quit” and got control of his temper. He sat beside her on the couch. “None of that. We’ll take care of it. Who actually told you about Harry Jacobson? Was it him or some third party?”
Carla sighed. No one told her these stories. They came from her imagination and the software program she’d written. Just as the Temple stories had been written without research. She hadn’t even realized the stories were true until after they’d been published and scores of historians began to dig about and then attested to the accuracy of her details. She frequently received requests from renowned historians asking her to share her extensive research notes on the Temple—something she could not do, since she had no such notes. She hadn’t even realized the religious group was the Temple when she’d written her stories.
Dan stood up in agitation. “Fine. Don’t reveal your source. But tell me this. Can they prove you were ever in Whitehall?”
“No. I’ve never been there.”
“Are you sure? My sources say you did an accurate job describing the town. Right down to the blue hydrangeas that border the town hall.”
“I’ve never been in Arkansas,” she assured him.
He would have pushed further, except every other time she had made such declarations, the other side had failed to find any evidence that she had visited the location in her book. It was the main reason they had managed to settle so many cases for relatively small amounts.
He returned to his desk and sat down. “In the future, before we publish, I want final say on all your characters’ names. It’s such a simple thing, changing the name, but you don’t seem to grasp the importance.”
Carla nodded her consent. Her characters always came with their own name, but if he wanted to change them before publication, she would allow it, if he thought he could. At least then, when the lawsuits popped up out of nowhere, he would have to blame himself and not her.
The Artificial Intelligence series begins this March