Guest post by Andrew McAllister author of Unauthorized Access

Andrew Cropped Square



Hello my friends, I would like to introduce you to Andrew McAllister.  Photo above and bio below.  He is visiting my blog today with a guest post that he has written for us along with an excerpt of his book Unauthorized Access.

The Kindle e-book will be FREE on Amazon from Wednesday March 6 to Friday March 8

Author bio

Andrew McAllister is an author, professor, husband, and father, although most days not in that order. He brings a diverse background to his writing, including a psychology degree and over 20 years of experience in the IT industry as a software company executive and university professor. This dual background means he can fix what is wrong with your computer software . . . but only if it really wants to change. His writing is influenced by his lifelong love of reading authors like John Grisham, David Baldacci, Lee Child, Robert B. Parker, and many others. He lives in New Brunswick, Canada, where he is busy working on his next book.

Guest Post

John Grisham’s Ordinary Heroes: A Writing Influence



I am frequently asked about which authors have influenced my writing.  The short answer is that I love reading thrillers, and there is no question this helped to shape Unauthorized Access.


The bulk of my reading over the years has been the work of thriller writers like John Grisham, Lee Child, David Baldacci, and Christopher Reich, to name just a few. I love it when characters are thrown into terrible messes and must scratch and claw their way back to some semblance of normality.


Today I want to highlight one story aspect that Unauthorized Access shares with several John Grisham novels. I call it the Ordinary Hero. To illustrate what I mean, I’ll use a couple of examples from two of Grisham’s best known works.


In The Firm, Grisham introduces us to Mitch McDeere, a young man who graduates from law school and goes to work for a small firm in Memphis. Other than the fact that he was smart enough to graduate near the top of his Harvard class, there’s really nothing extraordinary about Mitch. He’s no stronger, faster, nor better trained in the ninja arts than your average joe. But there he is, the protagonist in one of the leading thrillers of its day.


Compare this with some other well known thriller main characters. Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher is a freakishly tall and strong mountain of a man, with advanced training in just about every weapon, dirty trick, administrative loophole, and fighting technique the U.S. Army can muster. Robert B. Parker gave us a wonderful mystery series featuring Spenser, a straight shooting, expert street fighter, ex-pro boxer with police training and a lifetime worth of street smarts.


Larger-than-life characters like Reacher and Spenser are great fun. Legions of fans love to read how these guys match biceps and brain cells with the biggest and baddest villains in the land and come out on top. It works, and it works very well. These are superheroes masquerading as human beings.


But then there’s Mitch McDeere, just an average guy.


In 1992 Grisham followed The Firm with The Pelican Brief, another bestseller thriller that like its predecessor was also made into a blockbuster Hollywood movie. The protagonist in this case is Darby Shaw, a young college student. As far as I know the only special qualification Darby brings to the job of thriller protagonist is that she has a bit of a stubborn streak.


So how does Grisham manage to create tremendous suspense and action based on such seemingly ordinary characters? To me, there are three key elements that make this type of scenario work.


First, the ordinary characters are thrown into decidedly extraordinary circumstances. McDeere finds himself up against the Chicago mafia, while Darby Shaw stands between an influential, unscrupulous oil magnate and billions of dollars in revenue. In each case, the forces arrayed against the protagonist are staggeringly huge. It seems almost unfathomable that our heroes can survive, let alone come out on top. The tension this creates for the reader is incredible.


Secondly, these stories work precisely because the characters are ordinary people. Readers can identify with them. It is easy to imagine what it would be like to be the person trapped in such an incredibly difficult situation. The protagonists do nothing to deserve their fate, so it could happen to anyone. It could happen to you or me, which adds even more to the tension.


Finally, these stories show us that even ordinary people can act with extraordinary courage when the chips are down. Mitch McDeere and his wife Abby show admirable ingenuity and loyalty while outwitting the mafia. Along the way they amass a personal fortune and spring Mitch’s older brother out of prison. Darby Shaw perseveres against all odds until the oil magnate is indicted and the repercussions reach all the way to the Oval Office.


Grisham is far from alone in employing this type of dramatic scenario. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your own favorite books might include similar elements.


Unauthorized Access, as it turns out, is another good example. The protagonist Rob Donovan is a junior programmer at a bank. He is engaged to Lesley McGrath, a junior reporter at a local television station. The last time I checked, neither of them had any Navy Seal training. In a span of twenty-four hours, however, they go from completely anonymous to being embroiled in the wrong end of a disastrous circumstance that has the full attention of the national media, the FBI, and the FDIC.


Do Rob and Lesley have what it takes to find a way out of their mess? I won’t spoil the surprise, but I hope you enjoy finding out the answer!


UA Front Cover


Format – Kindle ebook

Pages – 310 pages (paperback edition)

Publisher – Kindle Direct Publishing

ASIN – B00896U00C

Genre – Thriller





Monday Afternoon


Tim Whitlock plastered an automatic grin on his face when he came across Rob Donovan pushing the up button for the elevator. After so many years of hiding his seething resentment, Tim’s smile was second nature.


“Hey buddy,” Rob said, “what’s going on?”


The young men were both two years out of college and stood a shade over six feet tall. Tim had straight sandy hair that was swept to one side, while Rob gelled his short, black hair so tufts of it stood up here and there.


“Not much,” Tim said. “How about you. You up to anything tonight?”


Rob seemed to hesitate, but then he just grinned and said, “I’ll tell you later.”


Tim was fairly confident Rob’s plans for the evening didn’t matter much. They were almost certainly going to change.


The elevator doors opened and Rob gave Tim a half wave as he stepped inside. As soon as the doors slid shut Tim quickly doubled back to Rob’s cubicle. His heart was racing but he did his best to plant a relaxed expression on his face as he looked around to see if anyone was nearby.


He saw no one so he stepped into the cubicle and pulled a Ziploc bag from his pocket. The bag contained a shiny metal USB memory stick. Using the bag to make sure he didn’t leave any fingerprints, Tim opened the top drawer of Rob’s desk. He hesitated for a moment, but then took a steadying breath and with trembling fingers he dropped the memory stick near the back of the drawer, where it nestled among a litter of pens, erasers, and push pins. He closed the drawer and exited the cubicle, relieved that no one saw him.


Tim joined the end-of-day crowd riding the elevator down from the office tower. The main branch of the First Malden Bank occupied the ground floor, conveniently close to the bank’s headquarters on floors four through nine above. Tim and Rob both worked on the fifth floor.


When Tim reached the lobby, he turned left and walked into the branch. Five people were waiting to use the ATMs. Tim joined the line. He tapped his leg nervously and tried not to think about what he was doing. His tongue felt like it was stuck to the roof of his mouth.


He looked anxiously at his watch. Four-fifty-two. There was still time if the people ahead of him didn’t take too long. The  hidden software examined Tim’s checking account every afternoon at five o’clock.


Another wave of acid roiled up from Tim’s stomach. He had been putting off this moment for the last four months. Every morning during that time he left his apartment intending to stop at an ATM and transfer the magic amount into his checking    account. Twelve dollars and thirty-four cents. One, two, three, four. A few buttons pushed on an ATM keypad and his life would change forever.


Every time he arrived at the bank, however, the inner voice spoke up: What if it doesn’t work?


Tim hated that voice.


What if you get caught and go to jail?


The fear was too much for Tim, so every day he walked past the bank machines in the lobby without stopping ― and promised himself the next day would be different.


But now Tim could wait no longer, because earlier that afternoon his boss had announced a new project. Their team of software developers would be working on a new release of the Account Management System. Once the system upgrade began, someone might discover the surprise Tim had taken such risks to hide within the current version of the software.


Tim took a deep breath and jammed his hands in his pockets to keep them from trembling. He closed his eyes and reminded himself why he was doing this. He had been waiting since high school to settle the score with his good buddy Rob Donovan, lifetime president of the Let’s Screw Tim Club. This was the one and only chance Tim would ever have to get even, to reclaim the life that should have been his all along. His insider access at the bank gave him the perfect opportunity, and there was no way in hell he was going to waste it.


No, today was the day.


Please do not forget that this book is available for free download from Wednesday March 6 to Friday March 8

Amazon book link

Amazon author page link

Author website link

Twitter link

Facebook link


Thank you Andrew for being a part of my blog today and for such an interesting guest post.

~ by adelesymonds on March 5, 2013.

2 Responses to “Guest post by Andrew McAllister author of Unauthorized Access”

  1. Thank you, Adele, for this guest post by Andrew McAllister. I have shared it to my author page on Facebook so fellow authors can see how successful thriller heroes are created and readers can discover an exciting new author to follow. I’m on my way to read Unauthorized Access now after downloading it free today. I’ve also bookmarked your blog, so I can enjoy a return trip to read your posts.

    • Thank you for visiting Gayle and I hope you enjoy my range of blog posts. A couple of book reviews coming up in the next few days. Thanks also for sharing, Andrew makes some interesting points and it was fun putting this post together. Good luck with your own projects.

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