By Susan Kaye Quinn:
When I first had the idea of writing a novel about a mindreading world (Open Minds), my first concern was whether it was even possible. What about dialogue? How can I write a novel that operates entirely in the minds of the characters?
Part of solving that problem came when I realized: everything operates entirely in our minds.
Without diving off the philosophical ramparts, it is a simple reality that our brains process all the sensory inputs from the world and create something we call a consciousness that allows us to live, love, and occasionally fight like tomcats.
When I realized that my story would involve not only mindreading but mindjacking—with some characters able to control the thoughts of others—I immediately wanted this to be a very sensory experience. After all the mindjacker’s consciousness was interacting directly with the brain function of a mindreader. How could that not have a feeling, a taste, a smell?
During the first draft of Open Minds, I was truly pantsing my way through Kira’s world, discovering along with her what it felt like to be a mindjacker. I was surprised to discover that each mind had its own scent. That emotions could flavor a mind field, and that mind barriers could be soft like Jell-O or as hard as a rock. During subsequent drafts, I developed a hidden history of mindjackers, just like there was an evolution of the mindreading world, where the mindjackers’ abilities allowed them to stay hidden in the world of mindreaders, and also provided the motivation to do so.
What if your neighbor knew you could control their thoughts? What if they only suspected it? Kira knows intuitively know that this is a secret that must be kept.
It was a tricky to puzzle out, at times, how a roomful of mindreaders or mindjackers or a mixture of both would interact. Even if we can read each other’s minds, or control someone’s thoughts and actions, we are still people, with human desires driving us and usually some kind of morality behind what we do.
The most interesting science fiction, I find, is always stories that explore what it means for us to be human—in spite of being surrounded by technology or radically changed environments. One look at Shakespeare’s plays or ancient mythology shows that human beings haven’t changed much over the millennia. The fundamental structure of our brains evolved over a million years, and that evolution certainly didn’t account for mindreading or mindjacking. Even though the characters in Open Minds have new powers, they are still using the same basic mental equipment from the time people were living in caves. In other words, the characters that populate Kira’s world are still human.
Exploring that thought continues to make for some interesting writing in Book Two, Closed Hearts, where technology increasingly becomes a part of the story of mindreaders vs. mindjackers ... and who will come out on top.
Susan Kaye Quinn is a former rocket scientist, but she writes young adult novels because she loves writing even more than shiny tech gadgets. While her most recent novel Open Minds has been gathering up fans of paranormal science fiction, she’s been busy working on the sequel, Closed Hearts. You can find her on her blog, Twitter or Facebook.
Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy ) is available in e-book and print (Amazon, Barnes &Noble).
Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.
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