If your reflection started talking to you – if it told you it could live your life better, that it was smarter, that it was coming to take you – you may think you were going a little off the rocker, or that you needed more sleep. But in the world of N.K. Traver’s Duplicity, that can – and does – happen.
Even if it would terrify Traver.
“I’d remove every mirror from my house and never leave. I’ve heard you can order wine through the mail, so I’d be set.”
In Duplicity, Brandon hacks bank accounts for fun. But his world is thrown into chaos when he meets Emma, who insists on seeing behind his facade, and his reflection in the mirror – which pulls him through the looking glass and switches places with him, certain that it can live Brandon’s life better than he does. He’ll need all his hacking skills to escape the wonderland behind the mirror.
The idea for Duplicity didn’t come from a rereading of Lewis Carrolls’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or a viewing of a psychedelic movie, but from somewhere far more badass: the Tomb Raider games. The games star Lara Croft, an archaeologist who travels the world to explore ancient ruins and fight off enemies both human and paranormal.
“In one of the tombs, there’s a room where Lara Croft must defeat a doppelgänger of herself in order to move on. The doppelgänger moves with Lara like a mirror.”
The tomb and its doppelgänger enemy stuck with Traver for years. “And my mom said playing video games was a waste of time.” She combined it with the myth of Bloody Mary, a woman who appears in the mirror if you chant her name three times in the dark, something Traver feared as a child.
But a modern edge was needed to make her story work – after all, Traver didn’t want Brandon to lose to his evil reflection. That’s where Brandon’s computer skills came in.
“I think hacking has a natural edginess to it that attracts readers,” said Traver, who used to be a computer programmer. “Often, hackers are outlaws in their own right, even if they’re working for the greater good. There’s an inherent risk and mystery surrounding it. And with so much of our world going digital, I know that I, at least, am very curious how technology might change our way of life both in the near future and long-term.”
Duplicity, which released earlier this year, is Traver’s debut novel. It’s been a long road for the story – from the first nugget from Tomb Raider to its final publication – but for Traver, it’s been an amazing ride.
“I keep waiting to wake up and learn that this past year has been a dream. Thinking of my book in bookstores and in other people’s hands still blows my mind.”