Happy 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.
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.
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.
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 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.