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New York Pitch Conference - September 2021

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1.    Story Statement

New York prosecutor Allie Walker must uncover the identity of the hacker who killed her boss and plans to unleash a ghost trading algorithm that will destroy the financial markets. 

2.    Antagonist Force
There’s the upper 1%, and those who got left behind. At BlaineBlade Trading, there’s both. Its president, Alexander Blaine, made an overnight fortune from developing the fastest high-speed trading systems in the world. His obsession for success is fueled by his background: a notorious mother who ran a Ponzi scheme that destroyed thousands of lives. Blaine will go to any length to restore his family’s riches and power. But will he do it legally, or has he crossed the line into hacking and murder? 

BlaineBlade’s chief operating officer, Frank Nelson, is old school. He paid his dues, grinding his way through decades in finance, and has nothing to show for it but a country club membership and stories nobody wants to hear. He knows all about the trading industry. He has a politician’s grin that hides his jealousy of stratospheric success of sneaker-wearing thirty-year olds. Has Frank turned to hacking and murder in order to break into the billionaire’s club? 

3.    Breakout Titles

Ghost Hacker
Ghost Algo
Before You Blink

4.    Two Smart Comparables

A modern legal thriller like Wanda M. Morris’s All Her Little Secrets, where a young lawyer gets caught up in a conspiracy after the sudden death of her boss. Fast-paced and set in the murky underworld of financial trading and cybercrime, similar to Matthew Mather’s Darknet. 

5.    Hook Line

A ghost hacker wants to wreck the world’s economy but a young prosecutor won’t let him get away with murder.

6.    Conditions for inner conflict

Inner conflict: Allie’s childhood was rocked when her family was defrauded by Alexandra Blaine. This gave her a strong sense of justice. But in order to track down her boss’s killer, she must trespass into the dangerous underworld of hackivism. An example is when Allie decides to infiltrate a secret meeting of men who just staged a violent raid of a technology forum. She does it, but not without a heavy dose of apprehension that she’s stepping on the wrong side of the law.  

Secondary conflict involving social environment: Allie has a chip on her shoulder against the uber-rich. Investigating the ghost algo and her boss’s death means coming face-to-face with the new titans of Wall Street, people she despises under any circumstance, especially now that one may have murdered her mentor and boss. She’s also disturbed by people at the opposite end of the spectrum, dangerous activists protesting economic disparity. She feels they’ve corrupted her brother, Josh. Allie’s attempts to stop Josh’s spiral into hard crime is a subplot, along with a romantic subplot with the city’s celebrity District Attorney. The DA’s anti-corruption liberal ideals align perfectly with Allie’s but that doesn’t necessarily mean she can trust him. 

7.    Setting

Contemporary New York City during a cold and wet November. Specific places include a newly-built downtown skyscraper, a penthouse trading firm office decorated with medieval weapons, a high-security server farm where trades are electronically matched, a riotous street protest, the District Attorney’s office, Central Park, a hole-in-the-wall Chinatown restaurant, an elegant Upper East Side co-op, and the top of a satellite tower during an icy rainstorm. 


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