Friday, November 11, 2011

MASKS Commentary Track: Chapter 17

In my head, this chapter is labeled INVISIBLE CLOWN ATTACK. With the caps and italics. This is partly because I changed the title of the chapter about five times and partly because I just think invisible killer clowns are hilarious.

I honestly don’t remember how I decided that Tammy would distract people by screaming about invisible clowns. I don’t think the real Tammy suggested it directly, because it sounds just a bit more like something I’d do than like something she’d do—she might come up with the screaming, but I don’t think she has a particular thing about clowns. Well, actually she does, but only as it concerns my friend The Puppet, and he’s entirely visible. I think.

I really liked the way this chapter brought out the unexpected sides of all the characters involved. Tammy, who might have come across as a little thick in previous chapters, turns out to be smarter than anyone expects. Soleil, who’s been playing the bitchy mean girl for most of the story, shows her vulnerable side, and Rae, the perpetual bullying victim, expresses sympathy for someone who looks and acts a lot like one of her tormentors. Trevor’s not the only character with secret corners inside him, or skeletons in his closet, and that’s what this chapter is about. (Well, that and invisible clowns!)

But man, Trevor’s skeleton is pretty big!

Before I delve into Trevor’s secret, I’d like to acknowledge the contributions of perhaps the most useful reference book I own. It’s called Howdunit: How Crimes Are Committed and Solved, and I received a used copy as a gift a couple of years ago. The description of fingerprint analysis in this chapter comes directly from that book, in a chapter by Anne Wingate. If there’s a writer or an aspiring writer in your life, and his or her genre involves crime or police activity in any way, this is the best Christmas gift imaginable. Seriously. Go buy it. It’s also just plain fascinating.

As far as I can tell, this scene pretty accurately reflects how crime-lab technicians would process the bottle, and the results Soleil and Rae get (only one usable print from their “suspect”) are not a reflection of their limited skill; sometimes even the most careful analyst will get only a limited result. Of course, there’s another reason for Trevor’s lack of fingerprints, too, but we’ll get to that later. [Evil smile.]

So—Trevor’s secret! What did you guys think of that one, huh? I know Rae will need a little time to process it. This is, of course, the source of the snowy mountainside and the burning train seen in Trevor’s nightmare waaaaay back in Chapter 2, and in a few flashbacks since. Obviously he’s haunted by the events of that day, but exactly how he got there and why he did what he did … well, that’s a story for a later chapter. For now, suffice it to say that we haven’t seen all of Trevor’s secret past, but we’ve definitely unearthed something he’d rather leave buried. This book is called Masks for a reason; everyone’s hiding something, whether they know it or not. This is the first of Trevor’s really big secrets, and I hope it’s piqued your interest enough to bring you back next week, because another of Trevor’s secrets will be coming out then …

This week’s soundtrack was a no-brainer. Tom Smith wrote the best scary-clown song ever, so with no further ado, here’s “Coulrophobia”:

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