Jeannette Angell

Novelist | Playwright | Short Story Writer | Poet

The Illusionist: a Word from the Author

The Illusionist

This isn’t the book I started out to write. In fact, in many ways, I wish I had written the other book, because I’m still eager to explore the issues I *thought* I was going to explore until this story took over.

Confused yet?

I had read in the newspaper about John Demanjuk, how he was arrested in Detroit and extradited and accused of having committed atrocities as a prison-camp guard during the Second World War. His son was quoted as saying, “My father is innocent.”

Well, I thought: of course, what else COULD he say? How could you ever face even the possibility that the man you had known as a loving, ethical, kind parent could also and equally truly be a person who had done things you consider morally repugnant? How does love get through that kind of barrier?

And where do you draw the line? We’ve all done things that we wish we hadn’t; we all have skeletons in our closets. If people knew about them, would they still love us?

So I set out to explore those questions via my protagonist, a woman whose father is accused of having committed crimes against humanity. And, as so often happens, my characters decided that that wasn’t what they wanted to explore.

As the story developed, what became far more essential were the family interactions that were forced into the limelight, so to speak, by the crisis. Not so much the father’s role in the family, but how the family itself had developed, what were its collective skeletons, and how it had created the people who were its members. And perhaps I exorcized one or two of my own skeletons, if I may mix a metaphor, along the way.

It’s a good story. Don’t read it looking for another edition of Costa-Gavras’ film The Music Box. His answers, at the end of the day, came a little too easily.

See if you can figure out who is guilty – and why. And let me know what you think!

Cast of Characters