Thursday 17 April 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post - Startup by Glenn Ogura

by Glenn Ogura

Book Description:
Set in California’s Silicon Valley, STARTUP follows a young idealist/entrepreneur, Zack Penny, as he strives to achieve his dream of creating a new company that will launch an international revolution in technology through the creation of wallpaper-thin displays that will completely surround a viewer. Zack works for a highly successful company called Display Technik, run by CEO Allen Henley, whose vision is based on a success-at-all-costs philosophy.  Zack sees Henley as a mentor, but Zack’s philosophy favors high morals and values over Henley’s ruthless, end-justifies-the-means model of doing business.

Zack’s dream takes root one morning when he discovers an important paper has been taken from his office. Someone has exposed Zack’s secret plan to break away from Display Technik and start his own company. Henley gives Zack another chance to pledge his loyalty to the firm, but Zack resigns instead, more determined than ever to realize his vision. Soon, the optimistic if naive Zack steps into his new facility with high hopes for success. Henley, however, has already launched a plan to destroy Zack, his company, and Zack’s relationship with Henley’s daughter, Mary Anne.

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Guest Post - Startup: The Villain

Thrillers are often villain-driven plots. The audience becomes more engaged as the villain’s behavior becomes more cutthroat, ruthless and deadly. Think no further than Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris’ classic novel and movie Silence of the Lambs. Although as a civilized society, we should be appalled by the cannibalistic behavior, the audience listened with morbid fascination as the villain calmly discussed eating a census taker’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Eating dinner with my family, I would eat pork sausages (bangers) with ketchup and soy sauce that would turn my wife’s stomach ill and cause an early exit of the kids. No fascination at the dinner table. No probing questions of the odd combination. Just shaking heads and scowls of disapproval.

Take the award-winning book and film No Country for Old Men. The cold-blooded killer Anton Chigurh waited for Carla Jean to return from her mother's funeral (is this sick irony or what?) and proposed to toss a coin for her life. The audience watched the coin tossed up and down into Chigurh’s hand. I have also tossed a coin, not for someone’s life of course, but for which bedroom the kids get when we bought a new house. You’d think this would be pretty important to a couple of teenagers but I remember the indignant behavior of the kids, not believing I would leave it up to chance on who gets the larger room. I mean, this is compelling drama—right?

Remember the scene in Marathon Man where the former Nazi SS dentist from Auschwitz, Dr. Christian Szell, drilled into Dustin Hoffman’s character’s healthy tooth, repeatedly asking, “Is it safe?” The audience froze in anticipation. Personally I loathe the dentist. When I was kid, the dentist injected a painkiller needle—as long as a stiletto-- into the soft underbelly of my cheek and suddenly the room started to spin around in my head until I emptied my lunch (most likely the ketchup and soy sauce-laden sausages) into the lap of the once-smiling dentist and his fresh-faced assistant. Guess the reaction of my ex-dentist? Believe me. No frozen anticipation there.

When I wrote the business thriller Startup, I wanted to create a deliciously evil villain. Startup is a story about an idealistic young man Zack Penny who starts his dream company but that dream turns into a nightmare, spoiled by his ex-mentor Allen Henley who sets out to systematically destroy Zack, his company, his friends and even his girlfriend, who happens to be Allen’s daughter. Now I’m not sure this ruthless behavior matches cannibalism, a gambler’s vice or over-zealous dentistry but judging from the book reviews, I would say that Allen Henley is a true villain, secretly admired and reviled at the same time. One reader wrote to me that she couldn’t finish the book because she was too appalled by Henley’s actions.

So what is it about villains that compels the audience to be so absorbed by their ghastly behavior? And why is my behavior, although tame by the standards of the earlier mentioned villains, hardly gets even an acknowledgement from my family? 

And while we reflect on those questions over a glass of Chianti, would you please pass the ketchup and soy sauce?

Praise for Startup

Kirkus Reviews has hailed STARTUP as “a solid business thriller … reminiscent of John Grisham’s THE FIRM.”

“STARTUP is an intriguing and suspenseful good-versus-evil story set in the cutthroat Silicon Valley culture. STARTUP will appeal to readers who want to root for the little guy.” - ForeWord Reviews

About the Author

Glenn Ogura earned a degree in electrical engineering from Queen’s University in Canada. He is currently the executive vice-president for a New Hampshire-based laser micromachining company. Glenn lives with his wife in California.  In addition to his love of writing and talking technology and the study of business ethics, he plays tennis. Startup is his first novel.

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