Deception, As Described by an Expert

I work professionally as a magician, which means I am a professional deceiver.  I know how to throw the 3-card monte.  I know how to run the shell game.  I know the right moment and method for switching things.  It’s a way of thinking, more than anything else, and I’ve honed it for 23 years.


That’s one of the things I wanted to insert into my new novel, What Happens to Us.  It’s a thriller, and deception is shot through it.  Since my days as an English major at UCLA, I’ve realized that deception, secrets, and lies deepen a novel immensely.  But not all people know how to deceive as well as magicians and con men (between which, btw, there is a thin line).

When Cat, my protagonist, realizes she doesn’t have a place to sleep for the night, she decides to pick up a guy at a bar.  But she doesn’t choose just any guy.  She chooses an alcoholic whom she knows will be passed out by the time the expectations come due.  That’s a woman who knows how to deceive.

I know lots of magicians who are deceptive not just professionally, but also in their personal lives.  One made a living for several years as a con man (the monte, the shell game, the endless chain) in Orange County, California, while pretending to everyone around him that he was simply doing magician gigs.  When he finally fell deathly ill with an obscure and incurable illness in his thirties, he realized that his life had become toxic, and he came clean.  When he did, the illness mysteriously went away.

However, he still steals other people’s tricks and sell them as his own.  He still bends the rules in so any ways that it’s not funny.  To some of us, deception is simply tattooed onto our souls.

Cat’s love interest is a working magician, as well.  Dante explains to Cat how they’re going to use magic principles to stay away from their pursuer.  It all boils down to Runterschrauben, the German concept of blending into the background.  However, Runterschrauben has some negative side effects, as well, which leads them down a path they never wanted to go down.

(Download the novel, What Happens to Us,, which is a case study of what can happen when one NSA employee lacks oversight.  Only $3.99 on your Kindle.  If you don’t have a Kindle, download the Kindle for PC software for free:


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