Throughout the narrative of OP-DEC: Operation Deceit, I weave secrets. From the start, you’re introduced into a situation of which you know little and by the end of that scene, you know very little else, but the nuance suggests to you that you might already have a handle on what is going on. The point is to make it clear that the book is about those things that cannot be readily understood with any certainty. I use deceit, cunning and nuance to string you, the reader, along.
Deceit is invaluable to understanding and sensing the quirks of the work. Should too much be said, then too much would be clear and the reader isn’t meant to be let in on the secrets anymore than the spies who keep them. They wouldn’t be doing their jobs very well if they did—neither would I. Some might state that this reduces the tension of the novel, whereas I find it actually makes for far more tension, by leaving matters unsettled and the mystery thick. Likewise, whatever is said cannot be counted on as accurate. The deceit makes the reader think they know what is happening, later pulling the rug from under them to reveal they hadn’t the grasp they were led to believe they had.
One of the most deceitful aspects of the book is the figure of Carsten Reiniger, who sweeps in on the eve of the closing of the biggest secret that Claire has experienced, up until that moment, in her life. His appearance at her home is unexplained. Moreover, no one apparently knows why he is there. You’ll be told many times, who and what Carsten Reiniger is, only to have that information unwound around him to reveal something quite different. Imagine having to rely on such a person for your very life.
The hallmark of thrillers, and in fact screenwriting as well, is the tidal cycle of tension. It is what keeps the reader moving forward with the story. So thus, sharing the inside of secrets deflates the exquisite tension that holding back better provides. Where is the fun in already knowing the secret which should have shattered the bonds that keep the characters together? Subjectively, it is a choice one makes and it can be an important one. Keep in mind that a good mystery doesn’t come out and tell you who dunnit until the end. Instead, they provide the cycle of tension and release, dotting the landscape of the narrative with clues. Strong mystery readers pride themselves on being able to put together those clues and accurately predicting who the criminal is before the investigator does. They prefer that puzzle be tricky to resolve. Otherwise, the fun of reading is lost. No thrills. No challenge.
Nuance is the bedrock of deceit and tension building, a tool for the thriller or mystery writer utilized with care to do their job well. I will avoid listing all the things in the book that provide nuance and thus clues to what is going on (spoilers from the author are the worst kind). But, I can speak to setting and this effect. Yes, nuance can be setting, mood, the way a character speaks or acts, or even items mise-en-scène. Temporal concerns, though they are an overt intertext (relationship between literary and other ‘texts’ such as conversations, experiences, films, games and culture and how they create meaning together), they additionally carry nuance. For instance, the year the novel starts is the same year that the Nazi party grabs power away from the Weimar Republic, 1931. When you read the prologue, picture that bit of history. The parallels are unsettling. 1942 is the height of Nazi occupied Europe. The parallels continue: boldness, invasiveness, violence and danger. The nuance of those emotions manifests clues along with constructing setting.
If I have done my job correctly, the nuance (or intertexts) and the painstaking reveal will converge to create an exciting ride, where the reader can’t see what’s beyond the end of their speeding vehicle. It’s a gamble, because the pieces I choose to weave together may or may not trigger an intertext in the manner I assume. Subjectivity allows us to enjoy (or not) art on our own terms, regardless of the intent of the author. It also makes my deceit that much more complete—your enjoyment may be on your terms, but I have a means to manipulate those terms by the words that I weave… So many assumptions floating around, one can never tell what the intent is of the author or the characters. The reader remains upended.
This bedrock is what makes the story possible. The give and take between the author and reader, hanging on the edge of truth and lies.
On a side note, don’t get too settled in what you believe by the end of OP-DEC. A sequel is coming. It’s very likely to destroy everything you think you know about Carsten Reiniger. Or, maybe you’ll see right through my cloak and dagger parrying.
About the novel:
A shadowy past becomes a sinister future… It's 1933 and the height of Boston's social season. Claire Healey overhears a terrible argument between her industrial-tycoon father and her socialite mother. Claire's father sends her mother away, declaring she is hysterical with fatigue. Displaced by this disastrous outcome, Claire is brought to New York by her spirited aunt, to be raised beyond the reach of the damaging turn of events.
Nine years later, Claire returns to her childhood home to face her past once more. The world has long since exploded in war. A mysterious stranger named Carsten Reiniger has infiltrated the scene, placing his commanding presence among the old familiar faces of Boston's elite. Intrigued by the newcomer, Claire struggles to piece together his identity and finds a dangerous connection to her troubling past. When Claire's prying comes to light, she and her aunt are whisked away in the middle of the night to ensure their silence. Can Carsten Reiniger be trusted or is he implacably loyal to duty alone?
Fantasies of jumping from the moving vehicle or pushing Carsten out with a display of sudden and great strength filled Claire’s mind the entire ride back to her father’s house. The night somehow clung more darkly to their street. A roll of thunder echoed in the distance, barely audible above the growl of the engine. The driver steered the car up to the gate, pausing for it to open. The menacing groan of the iron barrier awakened Claire’s need to escape. She moved, but Carsten’s alertness obstructed such notions. His hand tightly grasped her wrist, planting her hand firmly on the seat between them. The concealed gun glinted, catching the reflection of the headlights. Pain and fear played on her face.
“Not just yet,” he said in low tones as the car proceeded slowly up the drive.
Carsten released her hand and patted it, wearing one of his grins. Claire tore her hand away, clutching it to her chest. Her owlish eyes kept a close watch on him. He only chuckled, amused by her fear. She was at his mercy with not a soul to help her.
The driver remained focused on his task. Claire wagered the driver had already known about the plans for the night, and he played along to keep his cushy job. The car coasted up to the overhang and came to a gentle stop. This time, he didn’t get out and open the door. He waited, allowing Carsten to do it instead.
Carsten reached across Claire and opened her door.
“Slowly,” he instructed, brandishing the weapon more boldly.
About the author:
Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she continues to reside, K.Williams embarked on a now twenty year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and work in the arts.
K attended the State University of New York at Morrisville, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany (home of the New York State Writer’s Institute) gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art.
Currently, K has completed the MALS program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. K continues to write and is working on the novels of the Trailokya Trilogy, a work that deals with topics in Domestic Violence and crosses the controversial waters of organized religion and secularism. A sequel to OP-DEC is in the research phase, while the adaptation is being shopped to interested film companies. Excerpts of these and more writings can be found at: www.bluehonor.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.