Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Dead Ringer by Nicola Martin. I hope you check out all the other sites on the banner, too.
Dead Ringer by Nicola Martin
Get ready to meet the other you.
Just upload your photo to get started. Using the latest facial recognition software, plus your votes, MeetYourDouble will find your doppelganger.
The idea is simple, vain, exciting. Tap the app, upload a picture, find your #deadringer – and if you like, set up a meeting in real life.
When Ella and Jem connect, the resemblance is uncanny, but their lives are polar opposites. One is stagnating in her Northern hometown, while the other, an aspiring actress living in a multimillion-pound mansion, is a Chelsea socialite who knows she’s skating on thin ice.
Other than their looks, their only similarity is the desire to escape. Is it possible to hide in your double’s skin? And at what cost? Dead Ringer is an all-too-believable, twisty, compelling story that will leave you reeling.
Author Guest Post:
Is there a stranger out there who shares your face?
What is the likelihood that you have a doppelgänger somewhere in the world? The scientific facts are stranger than you think, writes Nicola Martin.
The idea of the doppelgänger – a stranger who looks uncannily like you – stretches back through history. The superstition is that encountering your “double” is a bad omen that could lead to your death. Gothic fiction of all types, from Edgar Allan Poe through to The Vampire Diaries, has dealt with dastardly doppelgängers.
What about in real life? Is it all just smoke and mirrors, or does the science back it up?
Michael Sheehan, an assistant professor of neurobiology and behaviour at Cornell University, points out that humans aren’t actually that genetically diverse. There’s a high likelihood that your genetic makeup could resemble the genetic makeup of a stranger. Doppelgänger alert!
Drill down into the science, though, and it turns out there’s a catch.
Teghan Lucas and researchers from the University of Adelaide analyzed the distances between eight key features in the face, such as the eyes and ears, and calculated the probability that two people’s faces would match. The research revealed that the chances of finding someone whose face measurements exactly match yours (i.e. your true doppelgänger) are less than one in a trillion.
That’s that, then? No chance of running into your doppelgänger?
Wait a minute. Remember that how we see people is notoriously biased. We don’t run around with tape measures, working out distances on people’s faces. Instead we use that tricky thing perception when we look at others.
The world is now smaller than ever before, and we’re exposed to more and more people via social media. Michael Sheehan argues that this large exposure means that “it’s plausible that we’re less familiar with the faces we see and end up lumping them together.”
Context matters, too. If you see someone with a similar hairstyle, clothing and gestures as an acquaintance, you’ll be more likely to swear they look the same as the person you know.
The psychological theory of “verification bias” plays a role, too. This is where we’re expecting a particular result, so we trick ourselves into seeing that result. Expect to see an acquaintance at your local book shop and, when you run into someone similar-looking among the bookshelves, it’s more likely you’ll register them as looking uncannily like the person you know – whether they actually do or not.
Faulty perception makes it feasible that, if you met up with a friend and they looked approximately the way you expected, they dressed the way you expected, they spoke the way you expected, and they claimed to be your friend, you’d assume they were your friend. What if their earlobe was a fraction longer than you remembered? Would you notice?
This is what happens in my novel, Dead Ringer. Ella and Jem meet through a fictional app called MeetYourDouble, which uses facial recognition technology to find your doppelgänger. The two girls comes from completely different walks of life – one’s a shy country mouse; the other’s an outrageous city socialite – but they look uncannily alike. How could you resist swapping identities for a while?
In Dead Ringer, the light-hearted life-swap goes horribly wrong.
We may feel that superstitions about doppelgängers are outdated, but personally, I’ll be happy if I never run into my double.