10/27/2014 ecmyers

HBT14-The-CemeteryHappy Halloween! Welcome to my stop on the Halloween Book Trail: the Cemetery Trail!

Although I don’t usually have the time or talent to make elaborate costumes, I love the spirit of Halloween; it’s an opportunity to become someone else for a night and collect free candy. If you go to a lot of conventions, you’re probably familiar with “cosplaying” — dressing up as a favorite character from fandom — so maybe the holiday doesn’t seem all that special. But it’s the one day in the year when almost everyone is a cosplayer, plus don’t forget the free candy. As a fan of horror and mysteries, I like the spooky, creepy focus of Halloween, and it’s always fun to see how people express their interests and creativity through their costumes.

Hexadecimal shows Bob one of her many faces. (ReBoot)

Hexadecimal shows Bob one of her many faces. (ReBoot)

I am an especially big fan of masks. (No wonder, since a mask is a perfect costume for a lazy/busy guy like me.) When I was a kid, I used to cut cardboard face masks out of the backs of cereal boxes. That was all it took to pretend you I was a cartoon superhero. Of course, many superheroes are big on masks, which make them particularly fun subjects for dress up. One year I put more effort in than usual for a Halloween party and recreated Spider-Man’s wrestling costume from the first Sam Raimi film — the mask, a red balaclava, was the easiest (and most expensive) part. Even a pair of glasses can amount to a mask of sorts, the only thing differentiating Clark Kent from Superman.

Data's mask turns him into a waking god on ST:TNG.

Data’s mask turns him into a waking god. (ST:TNG)

Masks are fascinating to me because they can be used to disguise your identity, to assume a new identity, or perhaps to make you look more like yourself. Batman’s cowl protects Bruce Wayne’s secret, but the cowl doesn’t make him Batman: It gives him the freedom to express that part of his personality.

There’s an interactive theater performance in Manhattan called Sleep No More, a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in which hundreds of guests wander around the set of an old hotel wearing masks. Behind that plastic face, you are completely anonymous, and so is everyone else. It adds an eerily voyeuristic quality to the show, making you into a part of it while also providing a safe distance. If you can make it, I highly recommend you attend.

Somebody stop him...before they make a sequel. (The Mask)

Somebody stop him…before they make a sequel. (The Mask)

That show gave me an idea of how empowering it must be for members of the hacktivist group Anonymous to don their iconic Guy Fawkes masks and rally in public in support of justice. Hackers thrive on anonymity, but the masks also unite them in a common cause and remove individual ambitions and egos. (At least, in theory.) Because protecting your privacy on the internet is vitally important, especially for hackers and activists, identity is a strong theme in my new book, The Silence of Six. (It even comes out on Guy Fawkes Day, November 5th.)

In the Twilight Zone, masks reveal your true face.

In the Twilight Zone, masks reveal your true face.

In The Silence of Six, hackers are my contemporary online superheroes. Masks are featured in particular, most notably at a big masquerade event that showcases my favorite part of Halloween and fan conventions: the costumes. I had fun fitting in some of my favorite masks from film and television, and I think you’ll recognize a lot of them!

If you make it to the end of the Halloween Book Trail, you’ll have a chance to win a signed advance reader’s copy of The Silence of Six and some bookmarks. But before I send you on your way to the next stop, you can also enter a contest here. All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me either what you’re dressing up as for Halloween or what your favorite mask is. Make sure to leave a contact e-mail; I’ll randomly select one winner to receive free Audible audiobooks of my first two YA novels, Fair Coin and Quantum Coin.

Ready to move on? Your next stop on the Cemetery Trail is the blog of Dianne Salerni, author of The Eighth Day!


Remember, remember, the fifth of November. (V for Vendetta)

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I'm a YA author who spends too much time on the internet.

Comments (8)

  1. I’m dressing up as Wednesday Addams because my daughter wants me to dress up, too. But I also love masks. I used to collect porcelain ones when I was a teen. I had to get rid of them though because they freaked my husband out.

  2. Katie Thomas

    I am going to be a Dead Zombie Queen for Halloween!

  3. Mary DeBorde

    Love that Twilight Zone episode with the freaky masks – remember seeing this one as a kid and I thought it was about the creepiest thing I’d ever seen :O

    My favorite mask I have ever worn was when I was nine years old, dressed for a church Halloween party. It was Cinderella (how cliche lol), and I felt so pretty & princess-y :)

  4. I’m doing an I’m-not-sure-what-I-am costume — moussing my (green) hair up like the Bride of Frankenstein, painting silver swirls on my face, and wearing basic black. I’ll let the trick-or-treaters tell me what they think I am.

    My favorite costume (no mask) was the year I went as an elf to a Halloween party and met the man who is now my husband.

    I don’t usually wear masks, and I think there are two reasons. One is that it’s really hard with glasses. The second is that, even if you don’t need glasses, masks tend to limit your physical view of the world. (Think about that with a metaphorical world view as well, maybe, with the Guy Fawkes masks?)

  5. ecmyers

    Uh… So I’m really embarrassed to admit this, but I only just got around to selecting the winner of the FAIR COIN and QUANTUM COIN audio books. In my defense, I’ve been pretty busy taking care of our baby, juggling work, and writing! But still — this is a new record for me, and I apologize. However, the winner is…

    Mary DeBorde!

    I’ll e-mail you now, Mary. Thanks to everyone for commenting!

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