I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the cover for Null_Pointer. Not only in how best to design it but also what it actually means. On the face of it, it really does not reflect the genre that it resides in – Mysteries. It has no blood, no dead bodies and no sexy people. There are no articles of death like hand guns or knives.
Furthermore, it does not reflect the city in which it is set – Boise. There are no trees, foothills or beauty shots of the capital building.
The story is about a programmer who must find out who is killing his friends at their computers in a seemingly perfect white collar crime. It is about geeks being clever and bad hackers being murderous. It is also a story of a man who is tormented by feelings of guilt about his parent’s untimely deaths. The mystery unravels in the code that underlies the technology of the modern world.
After reading that last paragraph, the cover should begin to make sense now. The binary digits running through the background represent the lowest level of programming – machine language. The fading in and out of said binary suggests the mental anguish of the protagonist. I know, that’s a streatch. The sphere of code, falling into a hole in itself is a visual representation of a programming construct knows as a null pointer. This particular construct is at the heart of how the bad guy manages to kill his victims.
Mystery readers are without a doubt attracted to puzzles and love to try and figure things out along with the hero. This novel is very much a who done it and a how they did it kind of book. It will appeal to anyone who likes mysteries. However, it is expressly written for readers who have not traditionally been associated with mysteries. It was written for geeks.
Geeks who love to program, geeks who understand technology and who like to figure out how and why things work. If you fit into that narrow category, you will enjoy Null_Pointer more than the average reader with little to no computer knowledge. If you are especially geeky, you may even identify with one or more characters in the book.
Null_Pointer was written by a geek who happened to realize that debugging code is very similar to solving a mystery. Like chocolate and peanut butter, mysteries and geeks really do go well together. The problem has always been, that mysteries feature people who usually know very little about how to code Perl or crack passwords or jailbreak an iPhone. So this novel is my attempt to bring geeks into the fold as readers of mysteries. It’s not going to make non-geeks suddenly want to program in C++, but it will perhaps explain the lives of geeks to those who otherwise would never have understood what it’s like to be a geek. At least that’s my hope.