Sunday, June 11, 2017

"Shadow Man"

Alan Drew’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Gardens of Water, has been translated into ten languages and published in nearly two-dozen countries. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was awarded a Teaching/Writing Fellowship. An Associate Professor of English at Villanova University where he directs the creative writing program, he lives near Philadelphia with his wife and two children.

Drew applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Shadow Man, and reported the following:
From page 69:
But the itch inside grew, like animal nails clawing the cavity of his chest, like teeth gnawing the ridges of his skull; it grew until he felt raw inside, until he stabbed a pencil into his eye to get the itch out and they sent him to another place with deadbolts on the doors. Not like the basement, but with beds and painted walls and time in a courtyard with cooing doves in the trees. Here he learned to act like them, learned the right answers to the right questions, learned to smile and say things like, “It’s nice to see you” and “I feel fine” and “Please don’t do that”, and on the outside he seemed like them but he wasn’t. You are me, but I’m not you. He said this in his mind when talking to them. You are me, but I’m not you. There’s a black hole in me; he could feel it, gravity turned inside out, an ever-expanding implosion.
On page 69, the book reveals the horrific abuse the serial killer, Ricardo Martinez, suffered as a child. He was locked in a basement for four years by his father and made to do terrible things. This section chronicles his time in various homes and foster care placements after he was finally discovered in the basement and saved. The killer believes that some people in the neighborhood knew that his father was abusing him, yet they never said anything. This belief, in part, fuels his anger and his killing spree. Later in the novel, detective Ben Wade discovers that this is true; the woman who lived next door suspected something but never said a word. The killer likes to attack suburban neighborhoods similar to the one where he was abused, places where people feel safe, where they leave their doors unlocked and their windows open. Part of what I wanted to explore thematically in this book is the way a whole community of people can be complicit in, or at least live in denial of, the ugly things happening in their own neighborhoods. In places like Rancho Santa Elena, a master-planned community whose main commodity is safety and security, people need to believe the darker elements of human nature do not apply to their town, as though you can master plan away human ugliness. Ben has a dark secret of his own, one he’s cultivated a life to protect; yet some people in the town know his secret, have known his secret for years, and yet no one has done anything about it. Ben, as he continues to hunt down the killer, begins to feel a discomforting sympathy for Ricardo Martinez—at least the child that he was—and this feeling plus the death of a Mexican teenager, throws Ben into a crisis of his own.
Visit Alan Drew's website.

My Book, The Movie: Shadow Man.

Writers Read: Alan Drew.

--Marshal Zeringue