By Louise Ure
You’ve heard of the work of Julian Beever, right? He’s the chalk artist who has been creating optical illusion drawings on sidewalks in Europe, the U.S., Australia and Brazil for the last decade.
Although his drawing surface is simply flat pavement, he uses a technique called anamorphosis to create the illusion of three dimensions when viewed from the correct angle.
From flat, gray pavers Beever builds a world of chasms and pools, globes and spheres. Entire city blocks that exist just inches under your feet.
But when viewed from any other angle, the drawing makes no sense at all.
That’s the same globe, stretched out over forty feet in order to create the 3D effect.
Anamorphosis — creating a three dimensional world from a flat, blank surface — is a pretty good description of writing, too. But it’s even more relevant to the mystery writer, because this trompe l’oeil can only be achieved when viewing it from the proper angle.
And that’s what solving mysteries is all about.
If the characters in our books stood at the right angle … if they had the right perspective … enough information … there would be no mystery at all. All the pieces would fit.
But one character might be standing at the side. He might only know his tiny bit of the story.
Another character might be in the middle of it all, adding scratchy chalk marks that look inconsequential until viewed from the right angle.
The protagonist may stare at the pavement until the colors swirl and blur before his eyes, but he won’t be able to see the whole picture until he arrives at just that perfect spot and sees how all the pieces fit together.
It’s all about illusion and perspective. The point of view we choose. Whether or not to get inside a character’s head. Red herrings. Lies. Suspects. Subtly dropped clues. Unreliable narrators. Misdirection. Plot twists.
And whether it’s a thriller, a horror story, a bit of noir or a traditional mystery, when we do it right, the reader thinks it’s magic. So do I.
Here’s to the magic.
P.S. The Fault Tree goes on sale today. I’ll be on the road, laughing, scratching and telling lies. Hope to see you there!