Luminous Cite (publisher): How did you become involved in writing this series of books?
William Powers: It was a natural progression from watching and enjoying the television series to noticing the anomalies related to the hidden role of the character we call the Deceiver in our book.
The breakthrough came as Esther and I were discussing my latest favorite television series. On an occasion I will never forget, we were driving home through a forested area. I was telling Esther why I liked the show so much and the unusual role of the character we later called the Deceiver. The epiphany that this character had to be controlling events in some uncanny manner came as a sudden flash of insight.
LC: Why do you think you were the one to make this discovery?
Esther Powers: Let me answer that. I’ve asked myself the question before and here’s what I’ve concluded: One, when William watches movies or television or reads he is always analyzing events and questioning why they happen; two, he truly is a genius; and three, he expects things to make sense. He often figures out plots long before others do, but he greatly enjoys an author or auteur who can surprise him with a creative plot twist. He may be disappointed by a fictional work not making sense, but in the case of the television series in question, The Secret makes sense of all the anomalies in the show that others have overlooked because it’s so great otherwise.
LC: After William contributed the original insight of what is fundamentally happening in the series, can you cite personal contributions you have made, Esther?
EP: I have made some major discoveries. I realized that the manipulator has the power of reality re-creation. Events happen early in an episode that are a response to an incident later in the episode. This could be sloppy writing, but the creator of the series is too good to be that careless. Something else had to be going on. And then I got it. Only the ability of reality re-creation made sense of numerous events.
Another of my discoveries is what we call the Time Melt. The manipulator overuses reality re-creation and loses control. Events from throughout the series melt into the current time for multiple episodes.
For a long time I felt we were missing something although we had already uncovered so much. That feeling was somewhat lessened by my discovery of a mirroring within the show. Certain seasons mirror other seasons. In addition to there being a world of sources of allusion yet to be found, I won’t be surprised if other such structural elements have yet to be revealed.
LC: What has writing this book meant to you personally?
EP: This work has deeply affected me. Like many people, I had thought about trying to be a writer. But I could never find the topic or the focus to make it work.
This project was initially just William’s. I helped out here and there at first. However, as we increasingly understood the scope of the material, I became more involved and now I’ve been a full writing partner for years.
That “partner” part is important for me. This research and writing has been the biggest and most challenging effort we have undertaken together in all the time we have been married.
LC: What authors do you read?
WP: Esther and I are unabashedly book people. Our home has bookcases in every room but the kitchen. Even before research for our books further expanded the range of my reading, there were too many favorites to list only a few. I will cite one as an “honorable mention.”
The excellent science fiction of David Weber’s Honorverse series features engaging stories of Honor Harrington, a noble woman warrior and heroic officer in the space navy of a far future galactic human civilization. I love a story with scope, and especially enjoy the conflict of Honor and her allies against a nefarious hidden conspiracy. Like the main character in the television show with The Secret, the Honorverse heroes don’t know the identity of their hidden manipulator.
EP: For relaxation outside of this work, I gravitate mostly to mysteries. The Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown, all the mystery series by Charlaine Harris, not just the one with Sookie Stackhouse, and the Hamish Macbeth series by M. C. Beaton are favorites.
Maybe this explains part of why the writing we do interests me so much. Our research constantly involves solving mysteries. What artist is a source of allusion for a particular season? In a certain episode, what is the behind-the-scenes manipulator trying to accomplish? Once we identify a movie that is a source of allusion for an episode or a season how many allusions can we find and which ones are important enough to write about?
We really can’t cite other authors that have been influential in what we write because our analysis is truly original.
LC: As one of the editors, I’ve had a chance to read the next book already, so I know The Secret and dozens of smaller secrets. Do you think the biggest secret will be who the character is that you’re writing about?
WP: Yes, I think so. That’s why we’ve spent so much time leading up to revealing The Secret. Would You Like to Know a Secret? is the first step – trying to prepare people for the possibility that their favorite character may not be who they seem. We don’t actually expect anyone to get The Secret from this book, at least not the whole secret. That’s why the first portion of the next book is devoted to a step-by-step process.
First, the title alone will reveal which series it is; then a process leads readers to see how many conundrums there are in the surface story of the television show – that there are many questions begging for an answer. At the point when we reveal the secret manipulator, we hope that many people will have guessed the rest of The Secret for themselves. That will be the easiest path to acceptance of the truth.
LC: You sound pretty sure that it is the truth. What is the chance that you’re wrong about The Secret?
EP: The series’ creator may disagree with some details in our theory. However, we know that what we are saying is the simplest, clearest explanation of the unexplained in the show – the Ockham’s Razor that my husband wrote about.
LC: You’ve introduced some unusual features in your books: redacted excerpts from your next book, encrypted paragraphs of the major secrets, and "turn-the-page" reveals. What inspired these innovations?
EP: We weren’t trying to create unusual features at the time these ideas were implemented. They happened naturally as one of us had the inspiration. The redaction was my idea and William thought of the other two elements.
WP: It’s possible that we were inspired by the television series we write about. The creator of that series often inserts word games and a visual version of word games in his show. We have a whole chapter on his games and puzzles; unfortunately that chapter is one that we were forced to cut for length from the next book. It will appear in our third book, although we did incorporate one complex word game, as an example, in the forthcoming book.
LC: What do you think the series creator is saying through the creation of such a hidden antagonist in his show?
WP: The manipulator is the series creator’s avatar in the world of the story – whose conflict with the main character reflects his own internal conflicts – as he has covertly acknowledged.
EP: He has even been willing to portray incidents that might make him appear inattentive to details in a few scenes because he was depicting the manipulator’s actions, and despite such tools as mind-control and reality re-creation, that character is not always fully in control.
LC: How do you think the creator of the series you focus on will respond to your next book?
EP: That has been the product of a lot of speculation between the two of us. I hope that somewhere he has a master list of all his sources of allusion, and his interpretation of events in light of The Secret. I doubt, or maybe hope, that he doesn’t just release everything once The Secret is public.
I like to think that one of the reasons he has done what he’s done is to promote the study of classics and not-so-classic works in all forms of art. Pursuing the sources of allusion as we have is an education in itself, and a pleasurable and absorbing way to learn.
WP: We are happy and proud to unveil this amazing artistic achievement to the world and hope that after our next and primary book is released others will be encouraged to take up this exciting exploration.
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