In this suspense-charged, touching novel, Counting on Trust, information is stolen from a U.S. genetic engineering company (Omniprotein) by an employee promised payment by a Chinese general who wants to profit from selling the company’s technologies in the military region of China he commands.
To force quick payment the thief attacks fellow employees and threatens to continue until his money arrives. Will his next targets be: young lovers, computer geek Gabriel and gorgeous biologist Selena, who are discovering loving sex while trying to overcome post-traumatic effects of Selena’s girlhood rape.
Company president, Eleanor, who’s determined to keep some privacy and intimacy although her job’s high profile and her husband, Charley, has just had prostate cancer surgery.
Venture capitalist, John, who plans to duplicate Omniprotein’s facility in China and reunite with his ex-wife, fashion designer Ziyi, who returned to Shanghai after their only child died.
The personal stories of these couples explore how privacy, intimacy and trust are changing in our social-media age. They paint a compelling portrait of our time.
What Inspired Me to Write My Book
There were several factors that motivated me to write Counting on Trust.
First was my interest in globalization and its impacts, especially with regard to China and its relations with the U.S. This began when I accompanied my husband on a trip to China in 1978 with a delegation of faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh. At that time, China was just opening up to the West. What I saw and learned there suggested some interesting story ideas.
Next, the idea for a story involving corporate intrigue came while my husband and I were living in Nebraska. There was a lot of research on GMO foods being done at some of the universities there. We lived on a small lake, and I decided to invent a fictional company, Omniprotein, that was doing research on GMO fish. The theft of this company’s intellectual property by a Chinese general kicks off all the subsequent action.
A third motivationis my interest in the work of Jane Austen. I appreciate the way she deconstructed relationships and the social norms around romance and marriage in her day. I wanted to explore how relationships are changing in modern times. I also wanted to examine the fragility of trust in relationship: how easily it can be broken and how difficult it can be to repair. To that end, Counting on Trust follows three couples of different ages and backgrounds, each struggling with issues of trust.
And finally is my enjoyment in creating the characters that will populate a story. Like many writers, my characters are built up from an amalgam of people I have known at different points in my life. I like to mix and match physical traits, personality, temperament, and behavioral quirks. Often I will exaggerate these a bit to provide more depth and interest for my readers. Then I like to give each character a backstory that provides a rationale for their behavior. Lastly, I decide how they would probably interact with each other based on all that, and make adjustments. I like to think of it as being a kind of “character chef”: you might have a recipe of sorts, but the real fun and creativity comes with experimenting and tweaking until it you get something that feels just right.
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Themes of novels by M. Ferguson Powers reflect the author’s varied interests, including preservation of the natural world and its creatures;
Challenges of building and maintaining loving relationships in a culture with decreasing respect for personal boundaries and privacy
Influences of globalization on world events and how the U. S. and other nations relate to one another
Public policy issues such as controlling the military-industrial-political complex and requiring the health care industry to be more respectful of its clients
The need for cooperation across governments, cultures, and societies to address global challenges such as climate change
Developments in business and university administration and management
Powers has taught microbiology, headed a university office of research, served as executive director of two university-business partnership programs, and co-authored two books on university administration. She has a bachelor of science degree in bacteriology from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s in experimental psychology from George Mason University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
She lives on an island near Seattle with husband David R. Powers and their two shelties. Her first novel, Each Unique and Fascinating, about a bullied young girl whose father has gone to war, was published in 2012. OrcaSpeak, a novel of relationships and suspense, was published in 2013, and its prequel, Counting on Trust, was published in 2017.
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