by Chris Stewart
For the sake of newcomers, can you give a brief about your book(s)?
Each book chronicles a year in the life of Syndicessca Jeannie. It starts when she enters this Facility where she lives and learns, from basic education to using her psychic abilities. Of course, not everything goes smoothly for her.
That sounds like an oversimplification.
Well, in a general sense without going into plot, each book is basically that, but what happens within each year is the story in each book.
There isn’t a straight forward narrative, though, is there? The story meanders through various ‘plots’.
In a way, there is a linear narrative, or at least as linear as possible. It is structured as a journal with entries that may relate day to day activities. But then, she is relating her activities to her mother at first before it morphs into a journal. I would admit, the day to day reports do meander, but it was meant to reflect her life as well.
It does take its time to build her character.
I know, and it’s a character I’ve lived with for a long time. There was a lot of specificity to her, and that was in addition to her psychic abilities. There was a lot of baggage to the character too.
Yeah, her history does take its time to come up. That’s partially due to the rules of the Facility itself. It is an odd rule, isn’t it?
It was more of a recommendation to the trainees that they don’t have to share anything about their past. The idea was more like kindergarten. Kids make friends and work together very easily in kindergarten, and they start as blank slates to each other. There are no biases, no preconceived notions… but that’s harder to apply with adults, or even young adults in Jeannie’s case. Within an educational system, I figured it could be applicable. It also helped to allow readers discover Jeannie and her friends as it goes along.
The idea that a person could just start over with a blank slate, it’s always an enticing idea, but for Jeannie, she has a past and it’s one that impacts her present and her future, no matter what. It’s not the kind of past anyone would really want to share.
It’s quite a payoff when it does happen. It’s almost a cliche tho, the kinds of things that happened and what she went through.
Nowadays, yeah, it’s become a bit of a controversial issue, like if you need to put a female character through something bad… I don’t think I want to touch that subject beyond what’s already in the books. A lot of that ‘dark time’ for her was done years ago and it wasn’t something I wanted to change or update for the sake of changing it to suit the times, and it wasn’t meant to define her as a ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ as much as it would define her character or her actions.
I did consider how much of her past I wanted to write about, but then the story started to flow that way, and for both her and my sake, we needed to let the story go where it needed to go. Even if meant bringing up her past. It became something for her to face despite the controversy that might arise.
That doesn’t happen until the third book, but the threads of that were laid more in the second book. Let’s stay away from giving away too much here.
I dunno, some people actually like to know where a story is going before giving it a try.
Yes, that spoiler-paradox; where some people enjoy a story more knowing what happens and how it ends before starting. The ones who read the last page or the last chapter of a book before starting.
Yeah, those people. Are there people who still do that?
No one I know.
But let’s move on to genre. The nature of the story, the relationships going on around Syndi-Jean and the characters she interact with might suggest a book aimed for the Young Adults audience.
It wasn’t really my intention to fall into that category although I see why it has happened in some places.
And there’s no fixed genre as you’ve flit through science fiction, fantasy, YA drama, partial school story, family drama, paranoia thriller, and by the third book, you’ve even slipped into an action story with your characters referencing Die Hard.
Yeah, it’s all over the place, but that was part of the idea. If you’re going to reflect on life in a year, or over three years, you’re not going to have just one kind of ‘genre’ to fit into. People compare life to a roller-coaster as there are ups and downs, and twists and turns, and you can run through a gamut of emotions. So if we’re going to cover a life through a year, well, things happen, and not necessarily all at the same time.
For instance, a person working in a corporate world will have a home life, a corporate life, perhaps a night life with friends or family, maybe a romantic life or not, and many of these lives may not cross-over with one another. One area may impact in another and sometimes not. Each one of these may be a story unto itself, and in some stories, we may follow only one or two aspects of that life through a specific amount of time. Probably stick to one genre or mix in a second.
It would make it hard to find an audience then.
Yeh, I think it has been. Then again, it was a big risk and just maybe some readers are ready for a different kind of story-telling where genre can be transcended. Most TV shows and movies these days do that. We have shows that can flit between genres these days. I think readers can handle it.
It is quite a trip for anyone who can make it through tho.
We’ll get into some characters next. If any readers have any questions, please drop them off in the comments section.