Additional Email

Comments have been disabled on posts, and a new Privacy Policy is in the works. Thank you!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Showcase: Panic Button by Gilbert M Stack

Panic Button
Lighthouse Island
Gilbert M Stack

When Angie Specter won a slot on the Reality TV show, Panic Button: Lighthouse Island, she promised herself she wasn't going to be involved in a showmance. She’s a serious contestant and wants that $250,000 prize. Showmance contestants are weak and foolish, and Angie has no intention of being used by some handsome guy.

That is, until she meets Hank. Not only is Hank Cross very handsome, he's as strong and capable as Angie. When the show's crazy host begins using terror to drive contestants off the island, Angie and Hank quickly figure out that if they don't help each other, they may not live long enough to push their Panic Button.

On the surface, a show like Big Brother would appear to be a competition that is all about personality. Certainly brains and athletic ability factor into the competition, but in theory a person can win the show without ever being Head of Household or winning a Veto Competition. All you need to survive each week is for a majority of your fellow contestants to vote someone else off the show. If that happens enough times you win regardless of how often you actually triumph in the individual competitions.

But I would argue that personality is not the key determinant of success in a show like Big Brother. Likeable people get kicked off the show and truly annoying ones often stay. No, the key to Big Brother is perception. How do the other players see you? Are you likeable? Are you useful? Are you honest? Are you strong? Are you helpful? Are you loyal? Are you sexy? Are you trustworthy? Are you fun? And most important of all, are you threatening?

Players who can manage the perceptions of their fellow houseguests do well. While players who let down their guards even for a moment and permit their fellow players a glimpse of their true conniving selves usually crash and burn.

In my novel, Panic Button, even though the contestants do not vote each other off the show, I wanted to capture the importance of perception in the game. Who is trustworthy and who is not? Who’s playing you and who is genuinely working with you to get farther into the game? Who likes you and who is simply using you? The distinctions are important, because while everyone genuinely wants to win, different people pursue victory in very different ways. Personality matters. Perception matters. Relationships matter. It’s not always enough to be smart, or physically fit, or just plain stubborn—although those things certainly help. To win this competition you have to find the strength to overcome your fears and persevere and the social game is a critical factor in accomplishing that.
So welcome to Panic Button—the sort of Reality TV show I’d like to see on the air. I hope you’ll give it a try. If you were one of the contestants would you have been able to figure out which players could be trusted and which would stab you the first time your back was turned? Why don’t you leave a comment and let me know what you think? And please feel free to visit my website and friend me on Facebook at
Gilbert M. Stack 

About the Author:
Gilbert M. Stack has been creating stories almost since he began speaking and publishing fiction and non-fiction since 2006. A professional historian, Gilbert delights in bringing the past to life in his fiction, depicting characters who are both true to their time and empathetic with modern sensibilities. His work has appeared in several issues of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and is also offered at Red Rose Publishing. He lives in New Jersey with his wonderful wife, Michelle, and their beloved son, Michael.