We’re Hesitant To Be Authentic
Posted by Literary Titan
Masked Intent tells a romantic story that explores our relationship with the truth and how it motivates us. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
As I was working on the novel and authenticity became an issue between the main characters, I saw a larger opportunity than what the traditional romance genre affords, a bigger story than boy meets, falls for, and gets the girl. I began to wonder what Truth – if personified – might think about alternative facts, their genesis, and their role in human interaction. Social media, reality TV, the world’s obsession with celebrity, and other artifacts of current society have fostered unrealistic standards of what beauty, success and happiness look like. They’ve obfuscated the truth. So, I imagined that my character and narrator Truth isn’t happy about that and wants to teach us a lesson of what happens when we stop listening to the still-small voice inside.
That’s when the “morality play” idea sprang to life. The Catholic church of the Middle Ages used morality plays to teach its Faithfull, most of whom were illiterate, about virtues. Similarly, Masked Intent uses the love story between the main characters as a convention–an allegory—to explore how, even in our most intimate moments, we’re hesitant to be authentic for fear of not measuring up.
Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Oscar Wilde said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
My male lead, Mateo, is quick to pick up on this truth in his dealings with his love interest, Alexa, yet both are slow to admit to such tendencies within themselves. It will take time for them to admit and resolve these flaws, which is an ironic dance they do around each other. As a professional communicator, Alexa is quick to spot and call out disingenuity in others but slow to admit her own such transgressions. Similarly, Mateo, a psychologist and, therefore, student of human nature, willfully refuses to admit that he has yet to come to terms with a heartbreak from years past, a past he can shed only after he deals with it.
It’s also important to note that these aren’t young, inexperienced people. Alexa is 43; Mateo is 36. Although this fact is mentioned early on, their age difference isn’t discussed in great detail. We have a name for women who date younger men…but aside from her age, Alexa doesn’t fit that stereotype. This is intentional as was my decision about their ages. We tend to think that life ends after 40, that we know all we’re supposed to know or that we are no longer creative or vibrant enough to serve a useful purpose. My characters disprove those assumptions.
Each of my characters is named with deliberation, and there are important clues to each of their personalities therein. The name Alexa means “defender of mankind.” She tends to believe that she is. But, as the saying goes, you can’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm, which is exactly what she does—ad nauseum—to her own detriment. Samson Stone, for whom Alexa works, is self-centered and ill-intended. The alliteration in his name suggests a slithering snake, which is fitting for this character.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I wanted my characters to be likable and relatable, which means they must be inherently flawed. Each character in Masked Intent carries the scars of disappointment, struggle, and, in some cases, abuse. I wanted to play up their shortcomings as they follow their individual paths towards self-discovery.
With that in mind, I hope my readers will consider the cornerstones of this novel:
- The biggest lies we tend to believe are the ones we tell ourselves.
- Self-deception is an epidemic as many of us choose to focus on what our lives look like to others as opposed to whether they’re a reflection of all that is good within us.
More subtly, but no less important, a key takeaway from the novel should be that the ageist ideas society can tend espouse are based on the myth that requires us to accept as fact that success, happiness, love, and discovery are the stuff of our youth. To the contrary, learning and growing never stop, so we never stop being solid contributors to the world around us.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I currently am completing a “prequel” to Masked Intent called Intermezzo. Though it is very much intended to be the intermission between my first novel (hence its title) and the story’s conclusion in Intents + Purposes, I call it a prequel because it provides some context around when and how the main characters met. It also gives readers the origin stories for two of the supporting characters in Masked Intent: Becket Oliver and Phaedra Sheppard. I plan standalone novels for each of these characters once I’ve completed The Morality Plays Series.
Intermezzo will be available in July 2022. Look for Intents + Purposes in the late fall of this year.
About Literary TitanThe Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.
Posted on June 12, 2022, in Interviews and tagged author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, contemporary fiction, ebook, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, womens fiction, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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