Sunday, April 26, 2015

SHADOW TRAP by Author Devi Anderson Anton

Devi Anderson Anton
Author bio:
From an early age, Devi Anderson Anton has created and illustrated stories. She studied drawing, design and painting, then earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. After freelancing, she landed her first full-time artist position and quickly became art director for the periodicals The Rangefinder and Photo Lab Management. Utilizing her editorial skills, she became senior editor for a dog fanciers’ magazine. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America and Southwest Manuscripters.

Brief synopsis of your book:
Still grieving the loss of his son, Det. Nick Faraday’s real nightmare begins when he’s called to investigate a death at a mysterious estate. As more victims fall, the cause of death can’t be determined and the case takes a peculiar turn, challenging everything he’s ever known, on every level. Clinging to established methods of investigation, Nick is set back by mounting evidence that refutes each cause of death and suggests illogical explanations. Nick struggles to fit together wild claims of ghost sightings, increasingly odd behavior of the residents, and medical evidence revealed by a top-secret project. But as lab results, witness accounts and all other evidence point to impossible conclusions, the case falls apart. Nick must follow where evidence leads, however improbable. He must find the key, or lose his own life, that of his new love, and unleash a killer with unprecedented power.

Book title:


Current book or project you’re working on:
I’m working on the next book in the Shadow Trap series, as well as a sequel to The Wish Twister, a middle-grade fantasy/adventure/mystery

What moment or event sparked the inspiration for your novel?
When the idea for the killer’s method came to me, it triggered a whole set of questions: how does a detective deal with evidence that refutes every known cause of death? Does he reach a stage when he must break free from all he’s ever known to follow where evidence leads, however incredible? How does the detective cope with this personally? On top of this, the detective is coming to terms with the loss of his son, and going through the different stages of grief while facing an apparently impossible case. Then I was off and running—I had to finish the book.

Please share three interesting facts about the characters in your book.
1) The case changes every character in the book.
2) The killer discovers his own mystery to be solved.
3) The reader is privy to clues that the detective is not, so it’s possible for the reader to solve the case independent of the detective.

What is the most complex issue you dealt with, as a writer, in your current novel?
Delving into the depths of characters who are coping with grief and guilt, and questioning reality and the paranormal—and where those lines are drawn. More complex than that was weaving all those layers together in an artful and logical manner.  The layers, including character arcs, evidence, medical details, police procedure and the killer’s transformation had to be interlaced with perfect timing, logic and suspense.    

What were the biggest challenges to writing this book?
The first biggest challenge involved understanding the characters’ issues in relation to psychological and parapsychological reality.

The second challenge was threading it all together to show how each character’s evolving psyche/belief system worked  against any other character’s psychological status at different points in the story. Because the story is told from three viewpoints—the killer, the detective and the heroine—these  especially had to be synchronized.


What genre and age group does your book fall into?

Shadow Trap transcends the usual mystery/suspense or psychological thriller. It’s a combination of the country-house cozy and detective story with a paranormal twist—but it’s also a howdunit and whydunit as much as a whodunit. This book is definitely for adults.

Which authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy blew me away. He totally broke the usual rules by doing such things as having a black page to show mourning over Shakespeare’s Yorick; having chapters only one line long; and leaving blank spaces to allow the reader to think. This book was published in 1760 and was so full of fun and whimsy.
2) Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, because of his splitting the perception between Huck’s point of view and the reader, and then progressively widening that gap to drive his social commentary home.
3) Agatha Christie with her The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Another rule breaker, she showed how genre lines and rules can be crossed and broken to create a story of brilliance.
4) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—the complete Sherlock Holmes. I loved the cozy atmosphere, the intellectual crime-solving with no violence, and the contrast between Sherlock and Doc Watson.

Do you have any special or previous training that helps you write your books?
My studies in drawing, painting and design helped with cover design, as well as with illustrations for my children’s books. My experience as a senior editor helped when editing my book, and of course my literature background at UCLA was a major contribution.

The process:

Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?
Music opens the portal to the other dimension. I immerse myself in music that reflects the mood of a scene or character, and the words just flow.

When writing a mystery or drama what do you feel is one of the best ways to tie up all the loose ends?
Charts, graphs, lists and outlines. I keep a list of all clues and questions the detective has, and all tasks he delegates. As they are answered throughout the story, I mark when and how. If an answer opens up more questions, I track those as well.  I go over the book, noting clues in one color, questions in another, and delegated tasks in another, and make sure each is addressed. I also chart and list character arcs and keep track of what each character is up to.

Was there ever a time when you felt possessed by a character when you were writing?
Often, and that’s the best time to write!

Do you take part in creating your book cover and if so what do you find the most difficult part of the process?
I did the cover for Shadow Trap and The Wish Twister, and did all the interior illustrations for Wish Twister. The most difficult part of this was learning the computer art program.

Is there anything you hope the reader will walk away with or “get” from your story?
I’m intrigued by the energies beyond the visible world, the spirit within the body, and the universal presence manifested by the physical world. I enjoy mysteries of the human psyche and of the metaphysical.

What readers may take away from Shadow Trap is that we are all so layered and complex. We don’t know what others are dealing with on a profound level, and I hope people would be viewed with more understanding and kindness.

This book also touches on the nature of evil, the power of good, and the force of determination in the face of incredible odds. 
Did you study science, criminology, medicine, psychology, paranormal, or Many, many hours were devoted to research, medical books on neurology, poisons, cardiology, and I was fortunate enough to interview specialists in cardiology, vascular surgery and internal medicine. I also spent hours on forensics and police procedure, plus some research on the paranormal.

What, who, and when, first inspired you to write?
Imaginary characters entered my world when I was young and I felt compelled to be their portal to our world. I would sketch them—almost always in Victorian clothes—and invent contraptions, then write their stories. My mom continually encouraged me to write and draw.

EXCERPT from Shadow Trap:
     May 16, The Carlyle Estate, 3:40 a.m.—Some will think I’m mad, especially if I’m caught before my project is finished. Others will say I’m guilty. Neither is true. That is why I document my work. Genius is often confused with madness—and compassion with malice—so my steps, purpose, and reasoning are recorded to prove beyond doubt that I am innocent.
     This journal itself poses some risk of my being discovered, but the good it does outweighs the harmful potential.
     It’s 3:42 a.m. and I’m at a critical point in my plan—a few final steps and the result will go magnificently well, or horribly wrong. Either way, I will revolutionize the way the world lives.
     I had to stop working again until these unnerving symptoms subsided, so while I make sure I’m stable, I’m taking this opportunity to catch up on my journal. In the last hour, a sense that my mind is disintegrating, that I’m dissolving within, interfered more frequently with my progress. Memory blurred and my thoughts fluttered like a candle flame about to snuff out. Surely, these are side effects of my preparations. This is a sacrifice I make willingly for the good that my work will do for humanity. I carefully hide my little episodes from the others who live at the estate with me.
     Not that they would notice. Carlyle House is a mansion of shadows and mirrors that mask a secret we are forbidden to even whisper.
     Nothing—and no one—is what they appear to be. They are all entangled in their agendas and games, hardly noticing the suffering of others. But the time is coming when I will break the silence and triumph.
     If I don’t, God help us all. All ALL—ALLLLL
     There again—my mind blacked out. Not my vision—my THOUGHTS. Seizures? Four seconds lost this time. If they are seizures, they are becoming more frequent and last longer.
     Am I steady enough to continue? I can’t make mistakes.
     Cold light spills like moon milk through the sycamores, leaves aglow against shadows. The sun will soon rise. I’d better hurry before the others wake up. Right now I can work in peace and secrecy, but soon the nightmare that is Carlyle House will stir back to life.
     Before my mind melts again, I must finish my task. Once I set my plan in motion, these symptoms will end and I’ll relish my success—and revenge.

     Nothing will be the same at Carlyle House. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Ever.

How can people connect with you?

Where can readers find your book?
Shadow Trap (print and ebook) available at 

The Wish Twister

Also check out: 
The Wish Twister available on:

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