Fiction Fest: Understanding ‘What is Hidden’

What is Hidden 2x3 WEB“I got the idea from the metaphorical masks we all wear, and how we act accordingly,” said “What is Hidden” author Lauren Skidmore when asked why she wrote her debut novel. “I wanted to write about those moments we take off the masks. Sometimes these masks prevent us from finding happiness, but removing them can be terrifying because while some people can accept us as we are, some can’t.

“I’ve always thought the Venetian style masks were beautiful, and creating a setting inspired by those masks was a lot of fun. I also love fairy tales and old stories made new, and since Cinderella’s ball fit in perfectly with my masked world, it just made sense to me.”

What is Hidden” will be released on May 13 and will be available in bookstores and from online retailers.

EXCERPT:

In a country where your mask is your face, a criminal called the Chameleon is on the loose, stealing the masks – and as a result the identities – of his victims. Young mask maker Evie finds her shop under attack.

I heard no reply and tried to turn the knob that opened the door to the front of the store, but to no avail. Something was blocking it from the other side. I backed up and rammed my shoulder against the door, budging it slightly.

I slammed against it twice more, until whatever it was finally gave way and the door flew open.

Although this part of the store was untouched by the fire, it was just as ransacked as every other part of the house. I wondered why my room had been untouched as I instinctively looked to our inventory of completed masks.

Every last one was gone. They’d been kept in a locked cupboard, which had been broken open and completely emptied.

My mind flashed back to the announcement from the Square. Had the Chameleon struck here? None of our masks were for anyone particularly wealthy or high-ranked, but that didn’t matter if one simply wanted to remain unseen. In fact, the lower ranked, the better.

Panic started to rise in my throat again as I remembered the other part of the warning. My father was still nowhere to be found. What if the Chameleon had gotten to him? Killed him for his mask? My father was well respected in his circles, and his mask would certainly be worth something if this man were similar enough in build to fool those unfamiliar with my father.

A floorboard creaked behind me, and I spun around.

Relief flooded me as I saw my father’s mask looking down at me in the pale moonlight. But that feeling was suddenly replaced with terror as I realized that the eyes behind the mask were strange and cruel.

The Chameleon.