Puzzle Box No. 1: Bonus Content
The idea for “Puzzle Box No. 1” came out of a fusion of my fascination with non-linear fiction and forensics. I knew I wanted to construct a crime that would be revealed in pieces, out of sequence. The device I used was imagining a machine, something like an fMRI, capable of reading and translating brainwaves.
There’s some very unsettling evidence that the human brain “survives” seven minutes after the body dies, and my idea was that by bringing the core temp down, those seven minutes might be extended—not indefinitely, but by a little. I did research into cutting edge trauma surgery called EPR (YouTube video) that uses hypothermia to put the patient into a state of suspended animation.
On Diversity: I wrestle with this, as an author. I was appalled my first idea for the story included a white male protagonist, a Southeast Asian male gas station owner, etc. because that’s what I’m used to in the part of the U.S. where I live, and I refused to do that, so I up-ended the whole thing as far as I was able and made my protagonist Iranian-American and the gas station owner white. I found it very difficult to imagine being in the head of Fareed, because I was crossing gender and culture and religion, but I tried to do my best and watched videos and read interviews online from different people, male and female, on what they felt it’s like to be Muslim and American, or of middle eastern descent and American. One that struck me, in particular, was a man who said he felt, post-9/11, that he was always having to reassure white people ‘he was one of the good ones.’ I’ve used this in Fareed’s story.
On Villains: My true crime reading, in particular John E. Douglas’ Mindhunter, which is the basis for the TV show, Criminal Minds, has convinced me that the most dangerous demographic in the U.S. is middle-aged white men. In Douglas’ book there are serial killers who are flashy and charming, but a lot of them are loners, losers, practically invisible. I based the ‘John Doe’ in this story on this picture of actor Gary Oldman. No offense to Oldman! It just helps me to have an image in my head when I write.
It’s called “Puzzle Box No. 1”. Will there be more, similar stories with Lt. Hiro? Yes, yes there will.