Secrets in Plain Sight – An author is inspired by her local surroundings
The next time you visit Quarry Head Park in Wilton, it may seem a little creepier than it used to. That is, if you read Wilton author Ivy Keating’s debut novel, Camouflage, first.
“It looks mysterious—like the type of natural untouched land creatures could be found in,” says Keating. “It made me wonder, what’s out there that we haven’t discovered? Wouldn’t it be terrifying if it was something huge and dangerous but so well camouflaged, we just didn’t know it was there?”
Keating’s chilling vision comes to life in Camouflage, a sci-fi thriller she co-wrote with Canadian novelist Scott Spotson. Teasers for the novel offer this line: “A missing man, a new police chief, and an unexpected New England town mystery.” True to the genre, there is also a deadly prehistoric creature involved.
When asked what draws her to science fiction, Keating says, “I love the challenge it presents. You get to use your imagination to create a world and the events in that world, but it still must make sense. It’s like a giant puzzle, and I get the satisfaction of putting it together. If my characters are complex and well rounded, I’ve completed a more challenging puzzle. The same goes for the actions of the characters and the setting.”
In creating the setting, Keating didn’t have to look beyond our own community. The preserved woodlands, rolling hills and valleys, and pristine residential areas depicted in the fictitious “Wilton” were drawn from those around the real locale.
“The setting is a small, quaint New England town about an hour outside Manhattan, with a community that prides itself on preserving the natural beauty of the area. Wilton’s natural land created the perfect setting for a thriller, especially the acres of forest like you see in Quarry Head Park,” she says. “Because the area is mountainous, if you stand on a ledge near the entrance of Quarry Head, you can see the Long Island Sound roughly 30 miles away. In between you and the sound are acres of natural space.”
Sounds serene. But this is no peaceful story, as evidenced by Keating’s next hometown feature. “Because Wilton has beautiful residential areas, a deadly creature on the prowl is destined to wreak havoc,” Keating says.
The mixture of beautiful surroundings and horrifying circumstances posed a writing challenge Keating savored.
“The story is about a new police chief on a missing person’s case that discovers a deadly prehistoric creature,” she explains. “It is a man versus nature thriller that explores the dichotomy between the impetus to destroy and the determination to preserve nature.”
Those who have read Camouflage seem to have enjoyed the twists and turns in Keating’s storyline, with Amazon reviews calling the book “a great thriller,” “sci-fi mystery at its finest,” and “zo-sci-fantasy—monsters and mystery.”
In the fictional Wilton, many of the amenities we know and love are included, though the names have been changed. There is a flower shop, a movie theater, and a coffee shop. The Wilton Police Station is off the main road just a few minutes from town, and beautiful reservoirs can be found in the residential areas.
As for Camouflage characters, those are purely fictional, from the town’s newly appointed Chief of Police, Sean Dermott, to the missing high school coach whose disappearance Dermott is investigating when the story begins. There is one character, however, who is included by name.
“The exception is K9 Baso,” Keating says. “Officer Eric Patenaude, who is the handler for K9 Baso from Wilton’s K9 Unit, gave me permission to use this amazing German Shepherd’s name.”
Two other Wiltonites lent a hand by filming a trailer for the book, which can be seen on Keating’s website, ivykeating.com. They are two of her children.
“We filmed the book trailer at Quarry Head Park. The director was my daughter Emma Keating, a film major at Purchase College,” she says. “And the actress is my eldest daughter, Katherine Keating.”
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Camouflage, the book is available at two stores here in Wilton: Open House at 9 Center Street and Local Soul at 100-108 Old Ridgefield Road. Once you read it, Keating says she’d love to hear from you.
“I’m always happy to discuss the book, or even the process of writing and getting published. On my website, I have a blog about writing and reaching goals.”
Check out some of Keating’s Wilton images at @ivykeating. Don’t worry; it’s all scenery, no monsters.
Photo at top: Author Ivy Keating (center) author of “Camouflage” that takes place in the woods of Wilton, and daughters Katherine (left) and Emma (right) at Quarry Head Park in Wilton. Photo by Stan Godlewski