9. Shadow Box

Poor Traits of an Artist as a Young Man: Shadow Box

For a table of contents of the entire series, click here. 


My first sequel since Liq, which no one read.

There are some great things about sequels. I took a major risk in the first five chapters, kind of pulling a trick to hopefully delight and surprise the reader. Never would have tried that in a first novel, because there’s too much world-building to do.

I stored up on inspiration before starting Shadow Box. Raymond Chandler was my guiding light – the 1950’s noir author of hits like The Long Goodbye. If you’re unfamiliar, any time you see a hard-drinking detective in a crummy office waiting on a stunning blonde to fill his life with treachery, that’s Raymond Chandler’s influence.

I read all his books. The guy can write; he’s got one-liners that make me jealous. In fact, in the opening paragraph of Shadow Box, I pay homage to the master.

He has a great line about staring into a killer’s eyes. He says they were “as cold and dark as the space between two stars.” I played with the line in Sean’s opening introspection on his Holbox hotel room, simultaneously referencing the climax of Keep the Ghost. “I open my eyes, but fail to catch the dream that woke me. Just a white expanse of ceiling, as clean and innocent as the space between two scars.”

Shadow Box is more mystery than Keep the Ghost, which devolves into more of a suspense/thriller in its second half.

In terms of the evolution of my writing, it’s my favorite book to date. Dripping style, fast-paced and I took great care to further the philosophical questions of Keep the Ghost.

In Keep the Ghost, Morgan makes faking your death sound great – just start over fresh, a brand new life. But can anyone do that, or only someone with Morgan’s particularly loose grip on reality? What happens when Sean tries to recreate himself in her image?

Shadow Box happens.


For the next entry in the Poor Traits series, click here.


One Comment on “9. Shadow Box”

  1. […] For the next entry in the Poor Traits series, click here. […]


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