Months after the last of the Wells sons jumped out of his bedroom window in Axton House (incidentally forgetting to open it first), a strange couple of Europeans arrive in Virginia to take possession of the estate. A. is the 23-year-old unforeseen scion; Niamh is the mute punk teen girl he refers to as his associate or his bodyguard. Both are ready to settle into their new cushy lifestyle, and the rumors about the mansion being haunted add to their excitement. But ghosts are not in any way the deepest secret of the house.
Through journals, letters, security footage, audio recordings, and ciphers, we follow A. and Niamh as they delve into Wells’ dubious suicide, the secret society he founded and its mysterious Game —a “bourgeois pastime” of global proportions— in Edgar Cantero’s dazzling and original gothic adventure.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.78(d)|
About the Author
A Conversation with Edgar Cantero, author of THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS
The Supernatural Enhancements begins as a ghost story in a classic haunted house, but we are very quickly swept up in a much larger, twisting international adventure tale. The novel bridges the gap between horror, suspense, and adventure in such a unique and entertaining way. What was the seed of the novel for you, and did you set out to pull all these worlds together?
Well, I don't plan ahead. At all. Especially in the case of TSEI had no big vision on the first day. I wanted to do a haunted house story, so I began with the old dead-uncle, eerie-mansion routine. But then I needed a plot too. You know, I'm unprejudiced like A.; I'd accept a haunted house as it is; I wouldn't try to cleanse it or anything. So I brought in the Twenty, so my characters had something to deal with. And I guess it reads like an adventure because of A. and Niamh's playful approach to the whole thing. It all came naturally.
You were born in Barcelona and have published cartoons and novels in both Catalan and Spanish, but this is your first time publishing a novel in English. What inspired you to tell this story in English, and how did that change your experience?
Several reasons come to mind, but one's capital: I've fed on American/British entertainment all my life. Everything I create is heavily influenced by it, and I've found English is the natural language for it. I've felt frustrated at Catalan and Spanish before, because they lack the words, the gears to narrate action sequences at Tony-Scott-editing speed. And every book, every movie I wanted TSE to resemble was in English; English seemed the only option.
The novel is set (mostly) at an old gothic mansion in the fictional town of Point Bless, Virginia...and there is an arch undercurrent of American pop culture that is both biting and hilarious. What about this story demanded that you set it in the US, and how did you bring the setting to such life?
I can't remember why I placed Axton House in the USlet alone in Virginia. I guess it's where I'd like to have an eccentric and generous uncle myself. I love the US, or my Hollywood-distorted view of it. And that's the point: I've consumed such colossal quantities of American movies and TV, I felt easy trying to recreate that world. I don't mind if it doesn't look realistic (I've never set foot on Virginia); if it looks like a movie, it's okay.
An important element to the book is the non-traditional way in which the narrative unfolds. The reader is shown diary entries, surveillance video transcripts, letters, receipts, invoices, and other highly creative devices that are both integral to the story and also help augment the sense of secrecy and hidden meaning...while never breaking the magic of reading. What inspired you to design and structure the book unconventionally?
You'll think this is unbelievable, but again, I don't plan ahead. I guess I went through the first chapter using only a diary, a mute girl's notepad, and a letter, and I thought, "I wonder how far I can go like this." It became a challenge.
I think that's also why the main character's name is just "A.": I signed his letters with an initial because I couldn't bother to think of a good name at the moment, and maybe 90 pages into the book I said, "Can I get away with not giving him a name?"
What does "supernatural" mean to you?
"Interesting." Also, "fictional." That's sad, don't you think?
Who have you discovered lately?
I discover pretty much everyone I read, because I choose books by the cover, with zero clues about their authors. As for very good impressions lately... John Sladek