So do you like stories that are creepy? I don’t mean scary or gory or anything like that. I’m talking about a story that will give you goosebumps if you think about the full implications of the tale for too long. I’m talking about a story that leaves you with a little shiver when you turn that page. Not a big shiver. Just a slight chill. Do you like stories that show that the mind can truly be scarier than ghosts? Or that the most amazing instrument ever conceived is the human brain?
Well friends, do I have a book to tell you about tonight! When David Sakmyster’s BLINDSPOTS came across my desk, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew Dave well enough (I’ve even featured him on this blog once before) and I knew I thoroughly enjoyed his Morpheus Initiative series. But when he explained the concept for the book, I was a little slow on the up take. “Proso…prosopag-what now?” I asked. Prosopagnosia. Ever heard of it? Nope…me either. Until I read this book. And was absolutely floored.
Prosopagnosia, or “face blindness” is a rare disease that renders the sufferer incapable of recognizing faces. In essence, the victim of face blindness can see almost everything. They can see the house they live in. The dog that wants to be petted. The crayon marks on the walls left by their children. And they can see people too…arms, legs, torsos…even hair. But where they see everything else in the world, there is a strange void in all that sight. You see, they literally cannot see faces. The way I understand it, they see nothing but a whirling mass of flesh where a person’s face would be. Therefore, everyone is a complete stranger to them until they are able to identify an individual. A husband, a wife, a child, a parent will not be recognized…until that person speaks to the victim of prosopagnosia. Often, family members, friends, and other loved ones of someone with face blindness will learn to wear something that makes them readily recognizable. A husband might always wear a red baseball cap, for instance, so that his wife will always know it’s him.
But what happens if you have this horrible disease? And what if your husband is away on a business trip? And suddenly, in the middle of the night, you hear a strange noise in the house? Someone is in your home. Someone is creeping up the steps. Someone is coming toward your bedroom. But what you don’t know is that your husband’s business trip has been cut short and he’s returned early. He’s in business attire…something that makes wearing a red baseball cap look ridiculous. And your husband enters your bedroom to face a wife with a .357 pointed directly at his head because…for all intents and purposes…there’s an intruder in the house.
|A promotional image when the book was first signed
And so begins the story of BLINDSPOTS (more or less…I left some stuff out to not spoil anything). The wife has suffered from this disease her entire life. She’s never seen a human face. She’s never recognized a single person with facial recognition. And then one day…one strange and glorious days, she sees a face. A complete stranger. Someone she’s never had any connection to and she actually sees the person’s face. And even weirder, even though she has never met this person…she knows the person. Somehow. There’s a bond between them…drawing them together like a web. Drawing six such people from around the world together. And what none of these six strangers with prosopagnosia do not realize is that there is most definitely a spider in the center of that web…a spider that’s been waiting patiently for the six of them to return to a secluded psychiatric institution in Vermont that just so happens to specialize in their exact condition. A spider who will stop at nothing to end the lives of these six strangers for the secrets they unknowingly carry with them.
Have I piqued your interest yet? I’m telling you…it’s a major wild ride. One you won’t soon forget, I can tell you that. Here’s the product description, the book trailer, and the link to Amazon for you:
IT’S WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE THAT MATTERS. . .
Six strangers from across the globe, all afflicted with Prosopagnosia-a disease that renders the sufferer unable to recognize faces-find themselves drawn to a secluded Vermont clinic specializing in their condition. Once there, to the shock of their lives, these strangers find they are not only able to see, but somehow recognize each other. But before they can learn the amazing truth about their connection, they are targeted by a preternaturally-gifted killer who has been waiting, more than one lifetime, for their arrival.
“Blindspots is a mind-expanding, thought provoking supernatural thriller, a wild ride full of original characters and concepts that will linger with you long after you’ve breathlessly turned the last page.” –Jeremy Robinson, bestselling author of SecondWorld and Ragnarok.
I seriously hope you’ll give this book a shot. I honestly don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And to whet your appetite a bit more, I recently had a chance to sit down with the author, David Samyster, and talk to him about the book as well as a few other topics. Here’s what he had to say:
1. I’ve already discussed BLINDSPOTS to some degree, but I often ask authors to describe what the book is about in their own words. When you think of Blindspots, what comes to your mind? What emotions does this book evoke in you?
For me, Blindspots has always felt like a book that wrote itself in a lot of ways, sprouting just from a bare seed of an idea. A theme that within all of us, there’s this basic need for belonging. That we’re all a part of something, whether it’s defined by friendships or family or country, but something. And then, imagine if you’re born with a condition that from the beginning separates you from all that and isolates you so completely that you’re now defined by your very longing to identify with just one other soul in an ocean of unrecognizable faces. This story doesn’t just invoke a sense of loneliness and isolation, but instead it’s a journey of self-discovery. And the big question – if you had the chance to discover who and what you really are, would you do it?
2. Blindspots is one of my favorite 7R books. Very creepy with such a fun and interesting premise featuring a very rare disease. Where did the inspiration for this book come from? How did it evolve from idea to actual story for you?
The idea for Blindspots came quite suddenly as I was reading Time Magazine in the doctor’s office several years ago. I remember because I sneakily ripped out the page I was reading and put it in my pocket. It was a small article about a rare but extremely interesting condition known as Face Blindness – or Prosopagnosia. I just sat there reading the words under this picture of a blurry-faced person, and before I even finished, I had the whole set up, some characters and even the big twist at the end for a novel. Let’s have a group of these people who have this condition, they’ve never seen any distinct faces their entire life, and then (here comes the classic writer’s ‘what if?’) – what if one day they find they are able to recognize someone? And not only that – but that person recognizes them too! Then the questions followed – why? Why just that person? And then, where are they? (Make it a cool castle-like treatment center in the mountains. In a snowstorm). Throw in a cool villain, and then everything just kind of fell into place and I couldn’t wait to write it.
3. You and I share some things in common in our writing. Primarily, we both seem to write things with a paranormal edge to them. What is it about the paranormal that appeals to you as an author? Why do you think it appeals so much to readers?
I think writing and using pararnormal aspects allows us to basically have that ‘outside-looking-in’ perspective. Observations on the ‘normal’ world then come into starker focus. In contrast to the thousand-year-old vampire, our meager lifespans become so much richer; every experience so much more powerful and every action has consequence when it could be your last. So it’s that side-by-side view that’s really appealing, I think, to both readers and writers. That, plus it’s a chance to escape what we perceive as the ‘normal’ world’s major drag – that there usually isn’t a reason for every bad thing that happens. In the real world, people who are born with such a thing like face blindness (or far worse conditions), are just victims of bad luck or genetics, whereas in paranormal fiction we’re allowed to speculate on the possibility that nefarious entities may have played a part in our misfortunes. And then – we hope we’re given the chance to right the scales.
4. In Blindspots, there are few scenes that stand out so much in my mind. They’ve made an impression that will probably last a long time. In particular, the dream sequences with old man and hourglass (I’m being vague here because I don’t want to give anything away). Do you have any favorite scenes from the book? If so, what are they and why have they effected you the way they have?
Yes, I loved writing the dream sequences and especially the ones where characters are made to see things that aren’t there. Again, not giving much away, but the climactic scene involving one of the villains stepping out of a portrait (on fire), and chasing after the heroine is a favorite. As is one of the earlier scenes where a near-catatonic patient who spends his days staring at faces flashing across a projection screen suddenly reacts to one face in particular…
5. You recently released the third (and final?) Morpheus Initiative novel. For those people just tuning in, tell us a little about this series. And does the Cydonia Objective really conclude the series or is there a possibility of more books in the future?
Yes the Morpheus Initiative trilogy is, for the moment, complete. It’s a James-Rollins-esque thriller about a team of psychic remote-viewers trying to tackle some of history’s greatest enigmas (like finding mystical Egyptian artifacts, Alexander the Great’s treasure under the Pharos Lighthouse, and the lost tomb of Genghis Khan); along the way they get involved in government conspiracies, sinister ancient societies, and possibly discover the truth about aliens, religions, immortality, and everything in between. There are two ‘prequel’ short stories out there, including one of my favorite stories – ‘The Shiva Objective’ – appearing in 7Realms’ anthology The Game. And it’s no secret that I may be in talks with one international best-selling author (Steve Savile) about a collaboration of my team and his Ogmios team (‘Silver’) for a massively cool global adventure, sometime in the near future.
6. What projects might readers expect to see from you in the near future? What are you working on now? Books? Movies?
I’ve got two books in the works, one involving modern day Druids (look out, Global Warming!), and another that’s really calling my name – another exploration of a rare psychological condition and how it could play into a really neat supernatural thriller. But I don’t want to give anything away on that yet. Also, I may have a short story collection bound and released next year, including the 20 or so I’ve had published so far. I’ve got several screenplays in play, so to speak – at contests and two at production companies where they’re trying to raise $.
7. Getting back to Blindspots, you have created a fantastic ensemble cast of characters. It was difficult for me to choose my favorite (though, I have to say, the villain stands out to me more than any one else). If pressed, who would you say your favorite character is and why?
Since you stole my original idea (yes, villains are often the favorites!), and since this is really an ensemble cast of heroes, I’d pick the one I actually introduce last in the novel. He’s by no means the least, and actually his appearance comes at the perfect time to throw the story in another direction. Up until that point, the characters – the five others with the condition – were all deeply flawed and interesting, but nonetheless familiar. They were from the across U.S. or from Great Britain. But then for the sixth, I switch to India, to a character steeped in mystical traditions and plagued not only by face blindness, but by partial paralysis (confined to a wheelchair), and most interestingly – he’s completely paranoid. We meet him fleeing from an intruder and hiding out in his panic room – where he quickly turns the tables on the would-be-killer, and then sets up a long-distance confrontation with the ultimate villain. It’s this character that will soon unite the others, discover the truth and devise a solution…
8. Finally, if you had to compare Blindspots to the work of any other author, what might it be compared to? Why?
It’s probably most like Dean Koontz’s early work – and modeled much in the vein of my favorite novel of his – ‘Strangers’ – in that it features a cast of initially disparate characters from geographically varied locations, yet we’re immediately enthralled and interested because they’re sharing the same visions, and we know something connects them. I used a similar style mostly – quick chapters, cliffhanger endings, something always pushing the plot forward, with revelations along the way and an ultimately uplifting conclusion.
Thanks Dave, for the great interview and the fantastic read. And readers, if you want to find out more about David Sakmyster, check out his website at www.sakmyster.com
And of course, I encourage you guys to pick up a copy of BLINDSPOTS. I promise you that you will definitely not regret it. As a matter of fact, I have a feeling you just might come back and thank me for turning on to such a great book!
Oh, by the way, come back soon. I’m going to be discussing audiobooks again in the next few days. I know I’ve already discussed them before, but this time, I’m going to share with you some amazing audiobooks I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to lately that I think are PERFECT examples of why audiobooks are so awesome. More on that later.