Friday, April 18, 2014

I'm Shelf-ish Chats with Glenn Ogura, author of 'Startup'

Glenn Ogura earned a degree in electrical engineering from Queen’s University in Canada. He is currently the executive vice-president for a New Hampshire-based laser micromachining company. Glenn lives with his wife in California.  In addition to his love of writing and talking technology and the study of business ethics, he plays tennis. Startup is his first novel.

Visit his website at

About the Book:

Set in California’s Silicon Valley, STARTUP follows a young idealist/entrepreneur, Zack Penny, as he strives to achieve his dream of creating a new company that will launch an international revolution in technology through the creation of wallpaper-thin displays that will completely surround a viewer. Zack works for a highly successful company called Display Technik, run by CEO Allen Henley, whose vision is based on a success-at-all-costs philosophy.  Zack sees Henley as a mentor, but Zack’s philosophy favors high morals and values over Henley’s ruthless, end-justifies-the-means model of doing business.

Zack’s dream takes root one morning when he discovers an important paper has been taken from his office. Someone has exposed Zack’s secret plan to break away from Display Technik and start his own company. Henley gives Zack another chance to pledge his loyalty to the firm, but Zack resigns instead, more determined than ever to realize his vision. Soon, the optimistic if naive Zack steps into his new facility with high hopes for success. Henley, however, has already launched a plan to destroy Zack, his company, and Zack’s relationship with Henley’s daughter, Mary Anne.

Purchase your copy:


Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love to enjoy life with my wife. As my parents grew older, I can remember telling my mother, “Keep going to Hawaii because a day will come when you can’t.” To their credit, they went to Hawaii for fifteen straight years. Keeping that life philosophy in mind, my wife and I travel all around the world, go on cruises and we love to sit on the beach and do nothing. We have become experts at doing nothing. It takes practice and I intend to train diligently. And when we aren’t doing nothing, we are busy exercising, biking and playing tennis.
When did you start writing?
I started to write while I was in college studying engineering. I wrote novels, three act plays, poetry, all kinds of stuff. As a kid, I would spend lazy Saturdays drawing comic books even though every figure looked like a pair of chopsticks. What’s ironic is that when I was in high school, I couldn’t stand English class. I loathed English composition. But when I attended Film Study, an obligatory arts class that I took to meet girls, an outpouring of creative compositions came forth. I would call it an awakening except I didn’t sleep much in college.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

To follow up on the previous question, I remember sitting at two o’clock in the morning trying to write my first essay for a college Film Study class. A wine glass in one hand, a blank piece of paper in the other and the clock on my desk telling me the paper was due in eight hours. I had to write an essay on why a particular film that I saw the previous night filled me with wonder and awe. To be frank, the film filled me with indifference, reverence and I was convinced the filmmaker was incompetent. So rather than write an essay on the film, I wrote an essay on why I loved to watch ocean waves crash into the shoreline and linked those images to the land-locked film. I kid you not. I received an A+++ grade and so began my love of writing. 

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

You’d think that I would answer writing the book on a Caribbean beach.  My answer is Foxborough Massachusetts. I am a hard core New England Patriots fan. While on the practice field, I’d like to write the definitive game plan to help the Patriots win the Super Bowl. My wife tells me that she hears me in the shower answering reporter’s questions on how I called the play to score the winning touchdown. She tells me that if I had put as much thought and energy into our household budget, we wouldn’t have three lawnmowers in our garage—of which one doesn’t work and another has a gimpy wheel.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

I would spend two extra hours with my wife and two extra hours writing the next book.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

Here’s a surprise answer: New England.

Back to your present book, Startup, how did you publish it?
Answer: I published through Penguin Random House-owned iUniverse who self-publish but they abide by a gauntlet of editorial reviews that traditional publishing houses follow. I’ve been fortunate to receive many critical reviews who commented on how well the book was written. I thank the editorial staff for their help.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
Startup is a business thriller set in California’s Silicon Valley. It is a story about greed and corruption in Silicon Valley. Since I lived in Silicon Valley, my research carried me to the front steps of my house. Every day I saw the horrific antics, betrayals and wrongful dismissals that took place in business practices. Sadly I didn’t have to walk far.

Why was writing Startup so important to you?
There was a story to be told. When people think of the bright shiny products that companies in Silicon Valley produce --or for that matter, in any business park---they see how the product helps their lives. They do not see how what it took to design and build that product. They do not see how people’s lives were changed, some for the better but others for the worse. When you see someone else gaining credit for an idea that they stole from a work colleague, it makes you think of morals and ethics in business and in life. It makes you wonder if morals and ethics are declining as we advance technologically—and become more isolated with the advent of the Internet.

But in addition to being a great story to tell, the facts are deliciously evil, providing the backdrop for an entertaining, fast-paced, rollercoaster thrill ride.  If readers like a David versus Goliath story, to cheer for the underdog who is against all odds or the pursuit for the elusive American dream, then I think they will enjoy Startup.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

My wife asks me how I could possibly interview myself in the shower as I explain for the hundredth time (to myself) the masterful plan to win another Super Bowl for the New England Patriots. At first she wondered how I could possibly make up all those insanely absurd questions and the ten minute long take-no- breath answers. I asked out loud, “Is it an epiphany? Sudden spiritual inspiration that just floats in my brain? Like how I get ideas to write? “No,” my wife replies, “From now on, I think you better stay under an umbrella when you’re on the beach. There’s no floating up there”, she says, pointing to my head. “Poor soul. Your brain is baked.”

Any final words?

I believe that Startup is a unique business thriller. Some of my readers have described it as a new thriller genre. Although the book does address the broader subject of morals and ethics in business and in life, the book is also a fun read, a page-turner with short chapters that take the reader on a roller-coaster thriller ride with a cinematic climax. If you need to overcome boredom on a long plane ride, Startup is the perfect stimulant. 

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