Diane Brazil is a seasoned technology and business journalist and author of Shadow Valley, a novel inspired by real events and real people that tells the story of how the technology industry became “un-unionizable.”
Here’s an interview with her about Shadow Valley:
How realistic is this story? Is this really what the culture was like in Silicon Valley in the 70s?
Shadow Valley is very realistic and true to the times in every way — -working environment, culture, descriptions of the area, the way workers were treated, lack of accommodations for disabled people, lack of opportunities for women and minorities.
Do you think anything has changed over the decades? Is the situation sill a bad when it comes to sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, unfair treatment at work?
Given that humans are still human and, to my knowledge, there is still no recourse for victims of sexual harassment, unequal pay for equal work, or lack of equal opportunity, my expectation is that things have probably not changed much with one exception. Since computer chips and components aren’t manufactured in Silicon Valley anymore, workplaces are safer in that respect.
What would I say to someone who said they were all for workers’ rights but didn’t think unions were the best way to go about security those rights?
I would ask that person to provide a more powerful alternative to getting workers’ voices heard than joining together and forming a union to ensure a seat at the table, a seat that would never be given to just one person but instead goes to representatives of unified workers — -to all their voices combined. If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.
What would you say to the people who say we can create equal opportunity for all people by teaching how to code?
This is not something I have any expertise in or knowledge about but it sounds like a great idea to me. More than that, I’d like to see children learn critical thinking skills starting in kindergarten.
How did you develop these characters?
The characters are all inspired by or directly based on people I knew and worked with over five decades. Only a few are entirely fictional to glue story elements together.
What would you like to see as a result of people reading your book?
I want people to understand the early 1970s in the technology industry, to hear the story of Silicon Valley and its history from an insider’s viewpoint, from someone who worked in the belly of the beast for almost 50 years,. I want readers to relate to the characters, to laugh and cry and be moved but, mostly, to be educated about those times and possibly shine a light on the profound impact the players and the times had on the technology industry, whose effects are still felt today around the world.
I want the world to know how unions have been blocked for more than 120 years in SV, not just in the technology industry but in the massive fruit growing/processing industry in the Valley in the early 20th century that paved the road to great wealth for a few and low wages with no benefits for the workers — — those who actually created the wealth. I want anyone interested in unionizing to read it so they know what employers will do to stop them, fool them, and punish them for trying to unionize.
I want readers to want more. While this story covers only 1972 and 1973, I have enough stories about Valley history from an insider’s perspective to expand it another 40 years.
For more information about Diane Brazil and Shadow Valley, please contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org