The following piece is a guest post by Janet Pywell, author of the book “Book of Hours,” a crime thriller in which one of the ‘characters’ is a drone.
I knew nothing about drones until I was walking on the beach near my home and a man was using a drone to photograph the coast. As a writer, I’m naturally curious and I stopped to speak to him. I was surprised when he told me you don’t need a license to fly a drone, that they weren’t expensive and that they were pretty easy to use.
I came across drones again after watching Helen Mirren’s film, “Eye in the Sky.” It’s contemporary, controversial and exciting. I thought they would add a thrilling dimension to my novel but I needed to understand their capabilities in order to work them into my narrative – and find out how and where I could use them in the relative scenes.
My latest crime thriller, “Book of Hours,” follows the protagonist Mikky dos Santos. In the novel, Mikky uses a Phantom 4 to help her navigate a pathway through a web of lies and deceit.
But it wasn’t a matter of just throwing a drone into the story. I needed to make sure it was technically accurate. I needed to know how reliable drones would be in the wind, how far they could track, and what features they had. I needed to know how high they go and if they could be seen with the naked eye. I needed descriptive pieces of the actual drone and to know what its capabilities were. I wanted to have the authentic language attached to using a drone.
Much like the problems real drone pilots encounter, Mikky has similar concerns. Will the battery life last? Will Mikky be able to track her prey? What can go wrong? How reliable will the drone be in the wind and the rain? How does she view the video from the ground?
In the opening scene, Mikky films her boyfriend kitesurfing with a drone. She videos the coast, but is distracted by the arrival of a car on the deserted beach. She uses the drone’s camera to focus on the passenger who she realises is a friend she hasn’t seen for four years. She takes her drone over the Alcazaba the Moorish fortress and Gibralfaro castle and above the Parador. The drone leads into the scene where Mikky meets her ex – a policeman who warns her about flying too close to Malaga airport. Ultimately, she uses the drone to track her Russian nemesis.
Along with Mikky’s concerns about the technical uses of a drone, the reader is also forced to reconsider the ethical uses of a drone. When is it alright to use a drone to spy on someone? Can a jealous husband track his wife? Would we be happy if our airwaves were filled with drones making deliveries or would we be fearful that they may cause an accident?
In my novel, Mikky treads a fine line, but does she breech the law? Perhaps in the next book she’ll invest in more technology and use a nano drone. But I’ll need to do more research on its capabilities and weave it into the plot.
About the author
Janet Pywell is the author of a Culture Crime Series that includes “Golden Icon,” “Masterpiece” and “Book of Hours.” She is also the author of a love story “Ellie Bravo” and short story series “Red Shoes.” Pywell has a background in travel and tourism, having lived and travelled abroad in Spain and Ireland, and has travelled extensively throughout Europe, America and Africa.