I left Microsoft Mobile in late September 2014 after about seven years as a Nokian, first as an external and the Real McCoy from the beginning of 2011. After leaving Nokia House for the last time, I trekked across Europe with my life packed into an old VW Transporter van that I’d bought from a used car dealer in Vantaa, caught up with family and friends in England for a couple of months, then left for my new life in the Philippines, where I met and married my second wife.
I’ve loved writing since childhood, and have written lots of small things but never really seriously until my job as Community Manager at Nokia gave me the chance to write a few advice columns in Nokia’s blogs. I’ve had a few stories rattling around in my head for a few years, but never had the chance to develop the ideas. One idea was to draw on my Nokia social media experience to write a cautionary tale about the perils of not taking care with personal information online, but it wasn’t until I had got to know a large number of Chinese students whilst working as an online English teacher that those ideas began to coalesce around a character who could convey the message I wanted to share.
The Chinese attitude to social media is very different to the rest of the world, their internet is a government-controlled entity separated from the “worldwide web” by the Great Firewall of China, so the Chinese treat the internet with much more caution than we do, and yet in many ways, what they have is so much more advanced and better organised than what we have.
Enter Veronica Wong, known to friends as Ronni. Raised by a Chinese family in Australia, Ronni is a great metaphor for modern China, she has the traditional Chinese values that we all know but at the same time, she is as modern and worldly-wise as it is possible to be; and when a close friend fails to return from a date with a man she met online, it’s Ronni that has to save the day.
“Social Murder” began as a short story but grew into a novella. I considered expanding the story into a proper novel, but I think that Ronni’s target demographic probably spend more time in Facebook than real books. I hope that readers will be gripped by the story, but at the same time, I hope that we can learn something from it in a digital age when too many of us don’t think carefully enough about what we do online.