Riddles, Riddles, Toil and Trouble…

Sep 14, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Angela Greenman

In the newly released thriller, The Child Riddler, a spider riddle holds the code to unleashing the most lethal weapon on earth. The code is known by only one person: a gifted nine-year-old girl. Top operative Zoe abducts the young girl to get the code, but soon is in a race to save the child she’s grown to care about—while simultaneously battling the demons of her drug addiction.

So, I had this great idea.
When I first began writing The Child Riddler a few years ago, one plot segment I needed to figure out was how the child knew the code and how the code was hidden. After much thought, it came to me…ta-da! A riddle! Forget the fact that I’d never said a riddle in my life. It had to be a riddle.

“Double, double toil and trouble…,” the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth said to me.
I had to make it complicated, didn’t I? The code could have been written on a bubble gum wrapper, right? Or kept in a doll’s dress pocket. No, no, of course not. It had to be a riddle—and a spider riddle at that. Just as the witches’ chant proclaiming that double the amount of trouble will befall Macbeth, I, too, would be facing twice the work with this, great?…riddle idea. But when the muse talks, as an author you listen.

It’s all a riddle to me.
My research indicated that the first written riddles were found about 4,000 years ago. That’s about how long figuring out the code-riddle plot seemed to take me. Finally, I succeeded—and even wrote my own riddle in the book. Now what? I linked together a child, a code, and a riddle. How was I going to keep the plot moving?

A MacGuffin, but oh, so much more toil and trouble
A MacGuffin in fiction is an object or event (something that propels the action forward), but it is not really important in itself. Alfred Hitchcock used this technique in films. For example, in his film Notorious, the MacGuffin was the radioactive uranium ore.

Since I’m fascinated by the future technology of warfare, I chose a cloaking spider bot as the MacGuffin in The Child Riddler. The spider bot has a coating made from metamaterials: microscopic structures that bend light waves, detouring them around an object, creating the illusion of invisibility. Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter on an atomic scale, appears to be the future of warfare. Currently, major countries are pouring billions into research programs on cloaking and nanotechnology. I figured an invisibility weapon would be something that global military powers and spy agencies would want to get their hands on, thus creating action for the story.

The muse told me to pick one of the most complicated technologies to describe and one of the hardest to research. When the muse talks, you listen.

Solving the riddle of suspense
Now that I had the plot elements and the MacGuffin (the cloaking spider bot), my story’s steering wheel and the accelerator pedal, I thought I had all I needed. But while the MacGuffin might generate some action for the characters, where was the driver, the suspense that would keep the pedal to the metal?

Suspense was an enigma to me until I read an interview with the author Lee Child. In a Writer’s Digest article, Child shared that it all comes down to asking a question and making people wait for the answer. He said, “The very act of asking a question makes people want to stick around and find out the answer. The power of asking a question is enormous.”

Brilliant! Questions are the answer. People are curious, and they want to know. Questions are the driver of my story. And so, the hard work continued. I toiled to create questions throughout The Child Riddler. Crafting a book is a brain teaser, and the witches’ chant of “double, double toil and trouble” is true until you finish.

The Child Riddler was released July 19. And my brain still hurts. But solving the riddle of writing a thriller was an exciting journey. And it is my hope that, when you read it, you will find it an exciting and bold adventure.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

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The Child Riddler is Angela Greenman’s debut thriller. She is an internationally recognized communications professional who has been an expert and lecturer with the International Atomic Energy Agency for over a decade, a spokesperson for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a press officer for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, the City’s civil rights department. She has traveled the world (twenty-one countries and counting), sailed the turquoise Caribbean waters, explored Canada’s beautiful wilderness and lakes, and now her imagination is devising plots for future novels that will feature more of the exciting places she has been.
You can connect with Angela on Facebook @Angela-Greenman-Author, Twitter @AngelaGreenman, or Instagram @angelsprism. You can also visit her website at angelagreenman.com.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, which are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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