Monday, March 30, 2015

Hackers, Crackers and Cyberterrorism

Eric J. Gates


Hello Everyone!  This morning on 911 we have the mysterious thriller-writer Eric Gates as our guest on Author 911. Eric is the author of the highly acclaimed Cull Series and Outsourced, Full Disclosure and How Not to be An Aspiring Author. His books are amazing and so is his wealth of information about things most of us don’t know about!  So, move over Patricia Arquette, we’ve got the real deal.

Hi Eric, many, many thanks for joining us this morning on Author 911 to talk about cyber terrorism. Authors have been writing about this fear for years, particularly Tom Clancy in Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears, and Patriots Games and you have done extensive development with SANTA in The Cull Series and other systems in your other books.  Can you talk about them for us and how you used information in the development of these systems?  But first, for the purposes of our discussion can you offer a definition of cyberterrorism?


Steering away from a standard dictionary definition, I think it’s better if we turn back the clock a little and explain some of the basics.  Back in the day when I first became involved with Information Technology Security (note, we don’t say Computers as this somewhat prophetic phrase foresaw the use of IT in many other manifestations, some of which we now call smartphones, tablets, cars, traffic systems, hospital systems and a long list of etcs), those who wanted unauthorized access fell into two camps: the hackers and the crackers.  The former treated their exploits as puzzle-solving – a game mentality pervaded and it was all about circumventing the controls over access and either leaving a mark (Kilroy was here) or taking a copy of something to prove they had succeeded.  The cracker, on the other hand, used the same methods but to steal information or destroy it or the systems that managed it.  They were motivated by their beliefs or by money (industrial espionage).  Cyberwarfare (the use of IT as a means to wage war) was born more from the crackers than the hackers, although covert cyberspying follows many of the tenets of the hacker (success is not leaving any trace of your exploit).

As in conventional warfare, the cyber battlespace (military term for where the war is fought) came into its own once the Internet and the World Wide Web became prevalent.  Prior to this, to successfully ‘hack’ and target a system you had to be in the same room as the machine or find a way to interface with that machine by introducing code into it (Trojan Horse anyone?).  This doesn’t necessarily imply that all cyberwarfare is done by people sitting in secure rooms behind rows and rows of computer monitors.  I still recall a couple of really innovative instances where the internal chips of photocopiers and printers were modified to store images of everything that passed through them; then they were sold on the Black Market to countries considered enemies.  That’s cyberwarfare too.

So, where do these neat ‘hacking’ tools come from?  Well, believe it or not, there’s a supermarket of sorts.  By now just about everyone has heard of the Dark (or Deep) Web, Darth Vader’s version of the Internet.  Let’s digress a minute and I’ll explain this.  Imagine the largest shopping mall in the World has just opened in your city.  You visit it for the first time and the very first thing you do, after walking through the doors, is consult the layout plan which tells you where every store is and what they sell.  That’s the Internet, made up of millions of individual computers and servers full of all kinds of information and INDEXED by the Search Engines we use every day.  Now, outside the mall, a huge chunk of the car park is taken over by a mish-mash of stalls selling all kinds of stuff.  There’s no real order to this flea market; no easy way to locate where a given product is being sold – in short NO INDEXING.  This is the thing that gives us that Aladdin’s Cave thrill of discovery as we wander the aisles and encounter the unexpected.  That’s the Dark Web.  Those stalls are invisible as far as the mall’s layout plan is concerned and they use this very factor to sell everything from drugs to weapons to… you name it.  They also sell ‘hacking’ tools: bits of code or keys that have the specific purpose to break into IT systems and to steal and/or destroy the information held there.  And this may come as a surprise to you: our Governments shop there too!  In fact, they are one of the major buyers on a regular basis – that’s the equivalent of an Army buying from an Arms Dealer, so nothing new there.  As a Brit by birth living in a Spanish-speaking country, I used to be asked frequently who won the war in the Falklands/Malvinas?  My response was always the same: the French.  Once the look of bewilderment settled on the face of my questioner, I pointed out they were the ones selling weapons and support to both sides.

Now you don’t have to be a nation state to buy stuff in this supermarket, just know how to access the Dark Web and where the appropriate stalls can be found.  Then it’s just a case of finance.  When individuals or terrorist cells purchase their ‘weapons’ there, that’s when you have ‘cyberterrorism’.  Mainly their goals and motivations are similar to those of the aforementioned crackers.  They attack what we call Critical Infrastructures, the backbone of our way of life.  This could be the electrical grid, power stations, communications, hospitals, and another long list of etcs.  The recent attack on Sony was not a Critical Infrastructure attack, rather a Critical Asset attack (in that only Sony and its competitors were affected – there was no domino effect on US Infrastructure).  The retaliatory (?) dysfunction of the Internet on several occasions in North Korea, however, was a Critical Infrastructure attack.   

Now specifically, the IT systems I refer to in my novels are either generic (ie. Invented by me as a device for the novel but based upon existing technology – such as the SANTA system in ‘the CULL’ series) or real (the systems mentioned in ‘Outsourced’, although I tasked them to novel-specific  targets).  SANTA is basically a surveillance system powered by Artificial Intelligence which allowed me to permit its ‘growth’ as the novel series progressed – it changed in the same way as the two protagonists changed, acquiring (revealing) new skills that helped it, and the tale, evolve. Does SANTA exist? Probably, and that’s scary: imagine you find yourself on a no-fly list because a computer system didn’t like the websites you visited. If you really want to blow your mind, read Book 3 (the CULL – Blood Feud) then follow the clues using my website as Katie’s writer friend’s site. I’ve left a nice Easter Egg there for fans of the series… or is it?
Sorry about the long answer but it’s a complex subject and difficult to summarize in a couple of paragraphs.


I know you have an extensive and impressive background in information systems and information security.  Can you tell me about your experiences in this area?


For over forty years I was a Consultant specializing in IT Security Internationally. My clients were as varied as you could imagine and most of the projects I worked on are as classified and secret today as they were they were live. And yes, there have been hidden microphones, car chases, people following, threats, and all manner of things I cannot go into – let’s just say my martial arts skill came in handy more than once. It was exciting work… and boring work – there never seemed to be any middle ground. I’ve broken cryptographic systems with pencil and paper in a room full of ‘interested parties’ in a very Agatha Christie moment, broken into systems and buildings to test their security (got shot at once too), even jumped from one rooftop to another between a couple of skyscrapers (not something I wish to repeat). No, I’m not Jason Bourne! Nowadays, I just write about that stuff – it’s much harder!


I have always heard the some of the most vulnerable areas of attack in the US and anywhere else for that matter, would be any military system infrastructure the power grid, water storage defenses such as dams that can be manipulated to cause massive flooding etc.  What systems do you view as our most vulnerable?  How do you assess the risk of cyber terrorism against the West?


Going back to my first answer, Critical Infrastructure is a concept we have been talking about for over thirty years.  It’s not a question of which is the most vulnerable system, but which system is made most vulnerable because of the lack of effort put into protecting it. When an army, or individual, attacks a fortress, they will always attack the weakest point. With Critical Infrastructure, any weak points, through the domino effect, will always lead to indirect damage in associated systems. A simple example in your terrain, Judith: an attack takes place on the electricity grid. This doesn’t have to be a logic bomb; it could be something as simple as a major blackout caused by a physical device taking out a power station (explosives or ElectroMagnetic Pulse weapon). Result: no power. Now Judith’s hospital has Uninterrupted Power Supplies for its critical systems, and in-house generators that kick in to allow the hospital to keep functioning.  But, whilst management have spent millions on ensuring their tech keeps working, no one has given any thought to maintaining communication with staff. No power means cellphone relay towers are down, phone batteries die and cannot be recharged. Key staff, off-site when the emergency occurs cannot be located. They become the critical infrastructure.

To factor in the plausibles and possibles you need professionals with peculiar mindsets to produce effective Critical Infrastructure Recovery and/or Disaster Recovery Plans and most organizations do not have these people on staff as they are too specialized for most business structures especially in times of financial crises such as we have all experienced. This is defensive Cyberwarfare and unless your Fortress is protected, you shouldn’t be going all-out offensive.


Wow, Eric, that example is so likely to happen someday. Nothing good can happen in a hospital, or any complex system without communication. Perhaps some of this content should be integrated into their Disaster Plans and operating documents. 

What are your thoughts about cyberterrorism and surveillance systems.  How are they used in counter terrorism or terrorist activities?


There’s an on-going battle between the need to protect our liberties and the need to retain our privacy. In all ‘business’ ventures (and the military and Intelligence circles are just that albeit using different terminology), exaggeration of potential threats (crying ‘wolf’) is a tried and trusted tactic to obtain a larger share of the budget. Yet, it’s been my experience that most of the measures undertaken happen AFTER the risk materializes. I remember once being asked to perform a risk analysis on the probability of a Financial Institution’s Data Centre being taken out by a flood (it was in the basement of a building). I pointed out the flood in question had occurred the previous month! All they were looking for was a chunk of paper to justify a bigger budget. That’s the wrong mindset, and that’s why far more money is allocated to FEMA (in the States) than to effective Critical Infrastructure protection and education. There’s an old saying about an ‘ounce of prevention’, right?
Surveillance systems are a part of our lives now. The question isn’t, should we allow more to be installed, but how can we ensure those who use them don’t abuse them. I remarked to my wife last week as we watched the news from France regarding the terrorist attacks how I expected most EU countries to announce measures to facilitate Internet surveillance by Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies within two days – I was wrong: France, the UK, and Spain announced new laws the very next day.
Will this be effective? There’s another adage called Information Saturation (better known as not being able to see the wood for the trees) – if the results of surveillance produce far more data than we can process, what’s the point of adding more data gathering? Surely we should concentrate on improving how efficiently we utilize what we have. Currently it seems we collect info only to cover our backs when post-incident investigations are under way.

Do you think al Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, and other extremist groups have the skill sets needed to damage the west?  How about other areas of the world?


The concept of small cells or ‘lone wolves’ can easily be applied to the battlespace of Cyberwarfare. Keep in mind that ‘hacking’ and ‘cracking’ predated the Internet era – don’t believe me? Look up Phone Phreaking on Google. Remember, as long as you have the cash, the stalls of the Dark Net are open to all.


Eric, many thanks! This information, while more than scary, can give us many ideas in our thrill writing.  We’ll see you again soon back on Author 911.


Thanks, Judith, as always for having me!

Latest: Outsourced

What's the deadliest gift a fan could send to a
novelist? And if that fan was a professional assassin?

the CULL- Bloodline, the CULL - Bloodstone, the CULL - Blood Feud (the CULL series books 1-3)

FULL DISCLOSURE, Leaving Shadows and 2012,

and the non-fiction
How NOT to be an ASPIRING Writer

AMAZON (paper & e-book) and bookstores worldwide.

check out Eric Gates Website
 to read extracts and discover the inside secrets...

follow me on Twitter:
@eThrillerWriter  and on my Blog

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Interview with Marianne Sciucco

Hi Marianne, many thanks for coming to Author 911 today to talk about your book.
I know you are a writer and nurse but you describe yourself as a writer who became a nurse.  Can you explain what you mean by that?

Thanks for inviting me to speak to your readers, Judith.  It’s always a pleasure to share space with another author.  All my life I've dreamed of being a writer. As a young girl, I fell in love with books and yearned to create my own, to one day see my name on its cover as author, to find it on a library shelf or in a book store, to catch someone reading it. In high school I dreamed of becoming a reporter – a foreign correspondent, at that! In college, I worked as a reporter for my college newspaper at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and as a stringer for several local dailies.  I thought that with hard work, determination, skill, and talent I would see my dream come true. That did not happen. Fresh out of school with an English degree, I was unable to secure any type of stable employment as a reporter. I struggled for a couple of years, but eventually grew desperate because I was broke and had to support myself and pay off student loans. I then took a job with a national non-profit health agency and freelanced as a reporter and as a production assistant for some smaller papers. This proved unsatisfying and I drifted into other jobs and finally gave up writing and reporting for good. This was the early 90’s, and the country was in the midst of a nursing crisis. I’d never dreamed of becoming a nurse, in fact, I balked at the idea when it was suggested in high school, but as an adult, I realized this might be an opportunity for me to gain stable. After working in a hospital for a few years, one of the nurse managers started a newsletter for the nursing department. I volunteered to help and soon I was running the whole thing! This reignited my desire to write and I started penning articles, one of which was published in a nursing journal. Encouraged, I embarked on my first novel. It took 11 years, but I self-published that book and am now working on another. I’ve also published three short stories. So, although I love being a nurse and it has been a rewarding career for me on many levels, I am at heart a writer. This will always be how I define myself.

Please tell me about your background.

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston with three younger brothers.  We were fortunate in that we had parents who loved us and gave us a good home. Sadly, my father passed away at the young age of 45, forcing me to grow up overnight. I was just 15 and the oldest. My mother depended on me to help care for my brothers after school while she worked. This was difficult, in that I had my own agenda – what teenage girl doesn’t? My mother is a strong woman who raised me to be strong as well. She insisted that I pursue my dreams and has supported me at every step, whether I was writing, selling Tupperware (what a great way to get through school), establishing myself as a resident of Cape Cod (what a great place to live), or going to nursing school in New York. She’s my best friend and number one fan. My only wish is that we lived close to each other so I could see her more often.

Tell me about your book and the inspiration for that book.

Blue Hydrangeas is the story of a pair of elderly Cape Cod innkeepers struggling with the wife’s Alzheimer’s.  A couple I met in my work as a hospital case manager, a fascinating couple in their 80’s, was my inspiration. She was a lovely woman, so pretty, and had Alzheimer’s. I’d ask her a question and she’d try to answer, but then say, “Oh, I’m so mixed up,” and laugh.  Her husband was frail, an amiable sort of guy, and devoted to her.  My job was to assist with the discharge plan, which was for her to go to a local nursing home for rehab (she’d broken her pelvis) the next day. I discussed the arrangements with her, her husband, and their son, who asked me to make sure his parents didn’t leave the hospital without him; he planned to drive them to the nursing home and assist with the admissions process. Later on, I couldn’t stop thinking about that couple, wondering what would happen if they left the hospital without their son. Where would they go?  What would they do?  Thus, the seeds of Blue Hydrangeas were sown, my wild writer’s imagination took off, and the story began to grow.
I worked on this book eleven years.  It sounds crazy, I know, but after I finished what I thought was the final draft and sent it out into the literary market place with no takers, I continued to tweak it, cutting scenes, adding others.  In the midst of all this, I developed repetitive strain injuries from an inappropriate computer workstation at my job, and everything just stopped.  I could no longer write.  I put everything aside for a couple of years.  But the story haunted me, and when I was able to I continued to revise and rework the manuscript.  Two years ago a friend suggested I publish on Kindle and I figured I had nothing to lose.  It took me a year to prepare and publish the book.  My book is unique because there aren’t many novels about Alzheimer’s, although 5.5 million people are suffering from it right now.
Do you have a regular writing routine? 

No, I don’t have a regular writing routine because of the repetitive strain injuries I mentioned earlier.  This includes carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, chronic headaches, and musculoskeletal and nerve pain. If time permits and my pain issues are managed, I may be able to write a few hundred words on my work-in-progress, or a blog post, or an interview. I manage my social media daily via my iPhone and Kindle which are easier to handle. I use Tweetdeck and Buffer to ease the load. A great day for me is to write 2000 words on my novel. To read more about this please visit MyTOSLife or The Balanced Writer.


Do you have a WIP?  If so, would you like to share?

Like so many writers, I wear many hats, one of which is called “Swim Mom.”  I’ve shuttled my daughter to swim meets and swim practice for years, and now follow her across state lines during her college swimming career. All those hours sitting on cold, metal bleachers waiting to watch her swim for a minute or two gave me more than a sore you-know-what: It inspired me to write a novel about girls’ varsity swimming.

In my current work-in-process Swim Season, the new girl on the team challenges a longstanding school record attached to a $50,000 scholarship. My goal was to write a story about the whole high school swimming experience, to show others who may not be as familiar with the sport how much fun it is and how hard these kids work. I started it four years ago and will soon have a completed manuscript. The plan is to publish sometime this year.

This story is about more than swimming as my young heroine, Aerin, deals with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce, a stepmother and two stepsisters she doesn't want, her mother's PTSD and drug addiction after two tours of duty in the Middle East as an Army nurse, and her best friend's cute twin brother.  Oh, and she's just started senior year in her third high school.  Aerin is a girl you will definitely cheer for. 


What do you think is the hardest thing about writing?

Having time to write is most difficult.  I work in spurts so I don’t always start and complete a project at one sitting. My mind is always working but my hands and arms can’t keep up and it becomes frustrating. Another difficulty is trying not to edit until I’ve completed the first draft. My inner editor is always screaming, but I find it’s better to get the writing out before I start perfecting it.

What in life inspires you?

Life itself inspires me.  The world is beautiful. People are fascinating.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change?  This can be anything.  Just use your imagination.

If I could, I’d wave my magic wand over the world and fill each person’s heart with joy and a desire for peace, ending all wars and violence against other people, so each individual person has the ability to thrive and meet his or her potential without fear or want.

About the Author

A lover of words and books, Marianne Sciucco dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, “Blue Hydrangeas,” an Alzheimer’s love story, is rated 4.7 stars on Amazon and has more than 70 5-star reviews. A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. You can follow Marianne’s Adventures in Publishing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and on

Connect Links:

Buy Links:
Blue Hydrangeas is available in paperback, audiobook and ebook at these and other online booksellers.
Barnes and Noble

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

An Interview with
Simon Oneill

Spinner of Vampire Lore, Dark Fantasy, & Big Foot Fodder

Hello Everyone,
Today we welcome the one and only Simon Oneill, the author of the Phantom Big Foot series and Eternal.  Simon has the greatest range of writing abilities I’ve seen in a writer.

Judith Lucci
Hi Simon, welcome to Author 911 and many thanks for coming here today to talk about your books.  I know how busy you are getting ready to release your new book.

Simon O'Neill
Hello Judith.  I am so happy to be here.  It’s always fun to be with you.

Judith Lucci
Simon, you are one of my favorite writers and people, too, for that matter.  Please tell everyone about your books.

Simon Oneill
Thank you Judith and I love your books too.  I am a Paranormal Fantasy author and dabble in YA and Adult.  My teen series is Duane Dexter's Bigfoot Adventures Parts 1,2,3 where a teenager is altered by aliens to protect a tribe of Bigfoot often with disastrous results.  Magic is Murder is my Monty Pythonesque horror novel set in stunning Cornwall, UK where a celebrity author goes on a killing spree to protect her family secret.  My big release on March 7th was Blood of the Eternal Moon, an erotic gothic romance set in Paris 1925.  Blood of the Eternal Moon is full of demonic possession and gore galore, oh and of course plenty of sex.

Judith Lucci
This is great!  It sounds like your Eternal books on literary steroids.  Your dark fantasies full of gothic images and bloody erotic scenes jump from the page and seduce the reader.
Tell us about your new release although I must say, your Big Foot series is just the greatest too!

Simon Oneill
You are too kind Judith.  Blood of the Eternal Moon is an historical dark fantasy explaining how Eternal Vampires alter our history for its beauty, but their evil servant vampires known as Sucklings will do anything to subvert their efforts and cause chaos and war.  And this time around, a female Eternal is trapped in an asylum where she is hunted by Lucien's Blood Cult.

Judith Lucci
You know, Simon, you have an extraordinary talent for making your characters real and vivid!  Do you see them in your mind as you write them?  When I read your books, I almost feel like I am seeing the video at the same time.

Simon Oneill
My secret Judith is I write them as a screenplay first, full of intense visuals with of course no thought patterns.  Then I add in feelings for more intensity but always in a POV through the character's eyes so the reader feels everything but will not know who the character is until another character interacts with them.  What’s neat is I have a screenplay at hand if requested by LaLa Land.

Judith Lucci
Well, it's certainly successful.  What is the most exciting thing happening for you now as a writer - in addition to your new release?

Simon Oneill
The release of Blood of the Eternal Moon has taken me over.  I can't stop thinking about it, dreaming about it, living it, well except for the blood slurping, but it has taken control of me in a way no other book ever has.  There are hints at Hollywood's eyes on the book which has caused a flutter or a million in my tums.

Judith Lucci
Yes, I was hoping you would mention that. What can all of us do to help with that?

Simon Oneill
Like my Author page. My author page is too lowly ranked and needs to be bumped up into 5 figures, that way the big guys in Hollywood will know I have a good fan base.

Judith Lucci
OK, that’s easy…so we should ask everyone who reads this to like your author page and ask everyone to invite “likes” as well.

Simon Oneill
Yes please, that would be great.

Judith Lucci
So...where do you get your ideas and motivation?

Simon Oneill
Many things really, dreams, Star Trek original series has some great story bases to work from. The episode with the giant apes attacking Spock (miss you dude) inspired our Bigfoot as it was in the hippie era we made Bigfoot hippies.

Judith Lucci
That's neat! Now, I have one final question. Before that, is there anything else you would like to add?

Simon Oneill
I feel I have covered most everything Judith.

Judith Lucci
OK, here goes,
If you had a magic wand and could make one wish, what would it be?

Simon Oneill
I would wish that everyone would wake up vegetarians!

Judith Lucci
You are too funny!! I'm already there so no problem for me!

Simon Oneill
Judith, thank you so much for letting me come today. I loved spending time with you, you Big Foot Babe.

Judith Lucci
Thank you for coming, Simon. I’m so excited about your new release. I’ll get it tomorrow. I know it’ll be fantastic as the others.

Simon's Contacts:
Duane Dexter's Bigfoot Adventures Part1  UK  US

Duane Dexter's Bigfoot Adventures Part 2  UK  US

Duane Dexter's Bigfoot Adventures Part 3  UK  US

Old Indian Legend tells us that man who tells tall tales is not
necessarily a tall man.  Old Indian Legend tells us man who is
invisible cannot be seen. Old Indian Legend tells us man who makes a
guess sometimes guesses wrong.

Magic Is Murder  UK  US

If there's one thing I can't abide is a blackmailer, unless I'm the one
doing the blackmailing.

Blood of the Eternal Moon US UK

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Belladonna - the choice of Assassins

The Drug of Stealth Assassinations

Belladonna is an herbaceous plant that has had many uses since the Middle Ages.  Belladonna has been used throughout history as a weapon for stealth assassination. It’s been used as an agent in cosmetics, a weapon of war and murder weapon. It is rumored that Agrippina, Empress of Rome used Belladonna for murder, as did the Emperor Claudius. Marie Jeanneret, a Swiss nurse was convicted of the murder of seven patients in the mid-1800, using Belladonna as her weapon. There’s also Dr. Robert Buchanan who murdered his wife with morphine and put atropine, a Belladonna derivative, in her eyes to overcome the pinpoint often seen with morphine use.
Mass Murder Anyone?
Want to murder an army? Soak some arrows in a Belladonna solution and poison the opposing side. The enemy will suffer a long painful death. Supposedly, Duncan I who later became King Macbeth of Scotland, poisoned an entire army of Danes with liquor poisoned by Belladonna berries.  It’s also good in tea as the berries are sweet and the tea goes down easily. Yum, Belladonna tea, ladies?
More About the Plant
Belladonna’s leaves and roots are used to make medicine. The name “belladonna” means “beautiful lady,” and was chosen because belladonna berry juice was used in Italy to enlarge the pupils of women, giving them a striking appearance. This was not a good idea, because belladonna can be poisonous, but, nevertheless, the ladies were lovely as long as they lasted.
Belladonna is also one of the most toxic plants found in the world and often grows in our own back yards.  All parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids. The berries pose the greatest danger to children because they have a sweet taste and are easily mistaken for blueberries. The consumption of two to five berries by a human adult is lethal. The root of the plant is the most toxic part and ingestion of a single leaf can be fatal to an adult.
Belladonna is also toxic to many domestic animals, causing narcosis and paralysis. However, cattle and rabbits eat the plant without suffering harmful effects. In humans, its anticholinergic properties cause the disruption of cognitive capacities, such as memory and learning and people may convulse and seize from its effects

How does it work?

Belladonna has chemicals that can block functions of the body's nervous system particularly the parasympathetic nervous system.  It can cause dilated pupils and blurred, vision, an increased heart rate, loss of balance, great thirst, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, and convulsions.

Spies, as well as taste-testers hired by kings to sample food to check for poison, learned that it’s possible to develop a tolerance to belladonna. One can become immune to its poisonous capabilities by taking small sips of a brew made from the plant over time. After a while a tolerance would build and an assassin could demonstrate a drink was safe to consume, while his victim would swallow the poison willingly and die. It is also quite tasty as a fermented beverage.
Medical Users of Belladonna

Though widely regarded as unsafe, belladonna is used as a sedative, to stop bronchial spasms in asthma and whooping cough, and as a cold and hay fever remedy.  It is also used for Parkinson's disease, colic, motion sickness, and as a painkiller.

Belladonna is used in ointments that are applied to the skin for joint pain (rheumatism), leg  pain caused by a disc in the backbone pushing on the sciatic nerve (sciatica), and nerve pain (neuralgia).  Belladonna is also used in plasters (medicine-filled gauze applied to the skin) for treating psychiatric disorders, a behavior disorder called hyperkinesis, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), and bronchial asthma.
So, if your next book, if you want to become a stealth assassin, consider a brew or Belladonna tea, or perhaps a taste of fermented Belladonna in cut glass crystal.
Yum, what a tasty way to go…and so easy!
Until next time,