John Twelve Hawks: Living Off the Grid

USA Today delves into the mystery author who calls himself John Twelve Hawks. His new book, The Traveler (Doubleday) is being given a large publicity push. The SF thriller is about living "off the grid," something the elusive author claims to do. "Off the grid" means living so the government can't track you: no credit cards, no driver's license and nothing that would allow the government to invade his privacy.
"Twelve Hawks is a very mysterious fellow," says Jason Kaufman, his editor at Doubleday who also edited Dan Brown's mega-best seller The Da Vinci Code a few years ago. "I'll tell you what I can," Kaufman adds. "We talk quite frequently, and I believe he always speaks with a satellite phone ... and a satellite phone is virtually untraceable."

"He" is probably a man, although his agent, Joe Regal, says Twelve Hawks uses a synthesizer to disguise or filter his voice. "When he calls, I know it's him," Regal says, "because nothing comes up, not 'out of area' - nothing." He's older than 30 and could be in his 40s or 50s. He lives in New York, Los Angeles and London, according to Regal, though the literary agent has never met him face-to-face. He is a first-time author, not an established author who is writing under a pseudonym, his agent says. He doesn't own a TV, he likes wine, and he drives a 15-year-old car, says Jason Kaufman, his editor at Doubleday, who says he has picked up those details in their numerous conversations.
The Traveler posits that we are all under constant surveillance by the Government, who tracks our every move using technology. And although he refuses to be interviewed he did sent an emailed statment to USA Today via his editor:
"The Vast Machine is the very powerful and very real computerized information system that monitors all aspects of our lives. I live off the Grid by choice."
Publicity stunt or really paranoid author? You decide.

Posted on June 28, 2005

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