By Harry Dayle (Author) – Technology has always been a huge part of my life. When I was ten I got my first computer — a Sinclair ZX81 (Timex 1000 in the US). I’ve never been far from a keyboard since, which is handy, because in my day job I am an author. Like many nerds, when I heard about the dark net, the idea exerted an irresistible pull over me. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I opened up Tor and entered this hitherto unknown and alien territory for the first time. Even though I had no intention of doing anything ‘wrong’, I felt like I had become part of an underworld. It was almost like joining a secret society.
In the autumn of 2015 I published the last book in an epic series spanning eight novels. Noah’s Ark is classic post-apocalyptic saga telling the story of a group of end-of-the-world survivors living aboard a cruise ship. It was a big hit with readers, but after eight books it was time to start something new. Any writer will tell you that finding ideas isn’t difficult — they tend to find you. So I had no shortage of concepts I could develop. There was really no choice to make though. I already knew that my next series would be set in the dark net.
Dark Webb tells the story of Thaddeus Webb, a reclusive website designer. Thad has a dark secret in his past, and it influences everything he does years later. Unlike me, he came late to technology. Being someone who makes websites for a living, he thinks he knows all about the internet, until he discovers the dark net. Thad has a very specific reason to use the dark web — he needs a drugs market. It’s when he’s in such a market that he gets a strange invitation — to a red room.
Red rooms are one of the oldest and most pervasive myths about the deep net. The one Thad stumbles upon shows him a live webcam feed of a captive teenage girl. Visitors to the room can vote to decide her fate (live, or die horribly on camera), and they do so by pledging Bitcoin.
Thad is shocked and sickened by the red room. His instinct is to contact the police, but law enforcement don’t take him seriously. And so begins Thad’s adventure as he delves deeper into a world of hackers, drug dealers, Bitcoin, and fraud, in a bid to try and save the girl before the red room vote ends and her time is up.
As with my other books, the technology in Dark Webb is all real. It was important to me to be accurate, whilst also keeping the story accessible to readers not already familiar with the landscape of the dark net. The result is a technothriller that both entertains and, I hope, informs. After all, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the deep web; popular entertainment is a great way to redress some of that balance.