What is it like to enter the mind of a mind-reader? How do you challenge someone who can have the whole world’s thoughts at their fingertips? This is the reality for College of Idaho alum Chris Farnsworth ’93 as he prepares to release his newest novel, Flashmob, which will be available on June 27, 2017.
A sequel to Farnsworth’s 2016 release Killfile, Flashmob is a thriller following the continuing adventures of John Smith, a former operative of the CIA with “a special gift that seems more like a curse”: the ability to access people’s deepest, most guarded thoughts. Now a private consultant for those wealthy enough to afford his unique services, Smith finds himself in pursuit of the dangerous mastermind behind the encrypted website “Downvote,” which threatens to unleash a deadly collection of killers on the public as it posts high profile targets with considerable bounties for their lives.
“Smith literally knows what everyone around him is thinking,” Farnsworth said. “He doesn’t ever have the luxury of being alone with his thoughts. He’s always got a cacophony of mental noise echoing in his brain as he picks up on every complaint or ache or random irritation. I wasn’t done exploring what that would mean, or what that could do to a person.”
Flashmob is seventh novel and the second within the universe of Killfile. Farnsworth, an Idaho native who delivered the keynote address at the C of I’s 2014 Commencement ceremony, is also known for his popular series of novels following Nathaniel Cade, better known as “The President’s Vampire,” in his novels Blood Oath, The President’s Vampire, The Burning Men, and Red, White and Blood.
Farnsworth has been eager to continue exploring Smith as a character, a protagonist he said is more grounded in reality than the dark impulses of Cade, but is still “forced to dwell on a lot of the darker impulses of human nature.”
“And of course, it’s just a lot of fun for me to put him in terrible situations and see how he thinks his way out of them,” Farnsworth joked.
Farnsworth wrote the majority of Flashmob over the course of six months. He said while writing sequels for his works is easier in some ways because the main characters have already been established, the biggest challenge is to continue to find ways to challenge the characters and find new ways to surprise the reader.
“My favorite part of writing a novel is usually right in the middle, when it’s gaining weight, and I can see the overall shape clearly,” Farnsworth said. “That’s when it’s still full of potential, and I still imagine I can fix anything that might go wrong. It’s like seeing a photograph taken with perfect lighting – everything is golden, and none of the flaws are visible.”
In Flashmob, the main antagonist utilizes social media as a weapon against their targets. While Farnsworth hopes for readers to simply enjoy the ride as Smith travels worldwide in his pursuit of “Downvote,” he also hopes people can take away how the novel hovers close to parts of our own reality.
“I hope people look a little more deeply at the cycle of rages that’s currently driving so much of our engagement with social media,” Farnsworth said. “When I started writing this book, I tried to invent a way for someone to use the internet as a weapon. Now, a little more than a year later, it turns out the same techniques and technology are actually being used to whip up angry mobs, recruit terrorists, and even influence elections. It’s strange and exciting to watch fiction turn into reality – but also a little frightening.”
With plans for another John Smith novel in the works as well as a stand-alone political thriller and ideas for scripts and comic books on the horizon, Farnsworth is excited to continue utilizing the skills he attained at the C of I to continue presenting thrilling stories like Flashmob.
“Aside from the explosions and the fight scenes, which are always a joy, I like the way that thrillers can reflect our world back to us in a heightened way,” Farnsworth said.
For more about Chris Farnsworth or to order Flashmob, visit www.chrisfarnsworth.com.
The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.