"I give The Mirror of Souls a five out of five. This book seriously knocked me out with fantastic world building, great horror, and good character introductions and development. Even though this is slated as young adult, I’d say this is skewed a bit on the older side of the spectrum with some drug use and other situations. The ending has me wanting book two right now.
Published: December 31st, 2016
Fifteen-year-old Jacqueline Talbot’s boyfriend Mal lives in the mirror of her makeup case. There’s never been anything normal about Jacqueline; not during her time in foster care, and certainly not in her new hometown of Mercy Hills.
With rumors of actual monsters in the woods, the popular kids taking an unhealthy interest in her, and the revealing of her own dark past, all Jacqueline wants to do is run away forever with Mal. Too bad he’s trapped in the mirror.
But when she learns the ancient forces of the town want to destroy everything she loves, the race is on to free the boy in the mirror, because he just might be the only one who knows how to stop them.
The Birth of a Series
There was a girl, and a god, and the universe spun around them.
This, my friends, is an example of a story taking its sweet time to complete the journey from an idea to a fully-formed construct. I scribbled the above sentence in a notebook more than twenty-five years ago, when I was a high school senior trying to come up a solid plot around which to base my Creative Writing final. I wrote that line, I loved that line, but I didn’t really know what kind of tale those words were meant to represent.
And so I forgot about it for a time.
As I talk about in the Author’s Note for Boy in the Mirror, a few years after my schooling ended, a mysterious coworker named Joe caught my attention. Joe was a bit of a mystery—he was personable and quick to laugh, but tended to lapse into a strange sort of melancholy when we least expected it. He would always dismiss inquiries into his state of mind with stories that grew more and more outlandish with each telling, as if he were inventing his own history on the fly. Everyone who worked with him had heard a different tale about what it was in his past that had hurt him so much. The only time he seemed truly happy was with his adorable little daughter, whom he obviously loved more than anything in the world.
Even though I only knew Joe for a short time—a matter of months, really—he had helped rekindle the creative spark that I’d thought I’d lost. I again wrote down that old line, trying to think up a way to include Joe and his daughter into something interesting, but a story still wouldn’t come. This time, instead of bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t come up with a suitable narrative to fit that original (extremely vague) idea, I set my imagination loose, and actually began writing for the first time in years. Short stories at first, followed by a few failed attempts at writing a novel. But I never gave up, even with my limited writing schedule, and a decade later, I found myself with a bevy of completed short stories, along with the bones of a zombie series, The Rift, that ended up becoming my first published work.
It was in 2009, when I’d finished the second Rift book, that I had the itch to write a supernatural novel about a man and his dog. It was at this point that my memory of that strange man named Joe returned. I placed him and his daughter (whom I named Jacqueline) into that story, a pair of minor, ambiguous characters who nonetheless served as the hinge that pivoted the tale from one of mundane reality into odd fantasy.
That was the point when the inspiration for what would become The Infinity Trials ratcheted up. I would jot down ideas in notebooks while working on other projects, trying to flesh out what I imagined to be a nuclear series that would hopefully spool out into a larger universe. I knew Jacqueline would be central to all of it—the girl from that original nebulous sentence—and that her relationship with the god would be the central conflict. I’d been working on The Breaking World at the time, a doorstopper epic fantasy series I wrote with David Dalglish. While I was putting the finishing touches on the final novel in that series, I was so excited to start Jacqueline’s story that it was becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate on the task at hand.
It was during the editing process of that book that I had a conversation with my daughter, Lily—who at that point was thirteen—that set the final wheels in motion. I realized that she’d never read anything I’d written. She was too young for the extreme horror of The Rift, the very adult issues of Silas, or the violent and graphic nature of The Breaking World. I decided, right then and there, that I would take Jacqueline’s tale (as Joe was no longer truly involved; he’d become a part of her history, and nothing more) and write it as a young adult series. That way, I would finally have a story my little girl, a voracious reader, could dive into full-bore.
Lily became the driving force of the news series I was creating. The overarching plot of Boy in the Mirror became a thesis on my fears of her growing older, what life’s experiences had in store for her, and the dread of predators lurking around every corner, be they real or imaginary. I wanted to let her know that it would all be okay, and because of that the tale grew into one of female empowerment. I would pass her chapters as I finished them, and she proved to be invaluable in correcting my outdated concepts of high school hierarchies and speech patterns. I would sit there, relishing every smile that came over her face, every shiver that rocked her shoulders, as she read the words I’d written. And when it was finished, she looked up at me in a way I’d never seen before and said, “Dad, this was awesome. When’re you starting the next one?”
It was perhaps the most satisfying moment of my entire writing career.
And that is how The Infinity Trials, now three books deep, with the fourth due out in late June, was born. What began as a single, unclear idea, fueled later by a strange man who loved his daughter immensely, ended up becoming an extended love letter from me to my own daughter. Her, the girl; me, the author playing god; and the universe I created, spinning around us both.
That, I think, is what they call coming full circle.
About the author:
Robert J. Duperre is an author from Connecticut, the land of insurance, tobacco, and unfulfilled dreams. Over his mildly interesting life, Robert has released seven novels that skirt the line between horror, science fiction, and fantasy, as well as edited and contributed to a pair of short story collections. His novel “Soultaker” was released in 2017 by Ragnarok Publications. He also co-wrote "The Breaking World" series with David Dalglish, which was picked up and published by 47North, a subsidiary of Amazon Publishing. And all this was accomplished while living happily ever after with his wife, the artist Jessica Torrant.