The Order of the Occult Hand

- by Karen Tintori

With the publication this week of our latest thriller, THE ILLUMINATION, Jill Gregory and I are the newest members of a club so secret, we don’t know that anyone within the organization realizes we’ve qualified for initiation. Fact of the matter is, we may be a decade late and a dollar short, since I’ve just discovered that The Order of the Occult Hand has regrouped to set off on a newer quest. The member scribes are on a mission so secret, Jill and I haven’t divined the new password yet.

We learned of The Order of the Occult Hand only a year ago, although the group had its beginnings in the mid 1960′s, in days when I was still deciding to become a journalist, and Jill was still in middle school. A group of young reporters, for a chuckle, decided to sneak a certain phrase into their printed copy. (A group of writers I know, working in varied genres, once decided to slip “Wanda’s Bait and Tackle Shop” into their current novels to see whether anyone would pick up on it. I was writing a nonfiction account of the Cherry Mine disaster at the time, and never did figure out a way to join that club.)

The goal of the young journalists, similarly writing on varied topics, was to finesse the phrase “…it was as if an occult hand had…” seamlessly into their news stories. How many reporters, in how many papers, how many times could sneak those distinctive words past their editors and land them in print before the guys with the grease pencils caught on? How long would it take before their “occult hands” began to stick out like a sore thumbs?

As one journalist after another succeeded in joining the elite ranks of the Order, the phrase poked its way into the pages of major newspapers — the New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times. It even found its way into stories about the possible impeachment of Bill Clinton. And now — most seamlessly, may I add — the “occult hand” has tapped THE ILLUMINATION.

Jill spotted a mention of the Order in a tiny sidebar in the Detroit Free Press just as we’d finished our revisions on this new thriller and were about to send the manuscript back to our editor. We couldn’t believe the direct tie-in to our story, and had a giggle of our own determining the exact place to insert the exact phrase used by the secret club.

Now that the book is in print, we plan to knock on the door of the Order’s Grand Poobah and petition for admittance. He’s probably busy slipping their new secret catch phrase into print, now that their occult hand has been…well… tipped.  I can’t wait to find out what our next challenge is.

No doubt we’ve all seen the new phrase, read it, and skimmed right past it somewhere, while it sat there in black and white, plain as the nose on a face, or the handwriting on the wall. 

So, you ask, where did Jill and I palm off the occult hand in THE ILLUMINATION?  Well, figuring prominently in the story we have a lost hamsa necklace (a protective open-palmed hand, worn in Israel and the Middle East to ward off the evil eye), and we’ve got a biblical treasure last seen in the Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar back in the days when his grandson, King Belshazzar, relied on the prophet Daniel to interpret his royal dreams.  It’s a little-known treasure from the dawn of time with the power to transform — or destroy — the world.

Think back to your Bible stories.  Anyone venture a guess on how we managed to slip in our own occult hand?

Comments are closed.