Learn about the inspiration, setting, and more from my YA sci fi book, Truth Seer.
I’ve had a few people ask me the same questions about my latest release Truth Seer. I’ll answer the most common questions in this post, but if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me. If you haven’t read Truth Seer yet, grab a copy here.
What was your inspiration for Truth Seer?
Truth Seer started out as a picture in my head. Most of it I used, some of it had to be adjusted as the story unfolded. In that picture, a girl crept through dark hallways with dangerous traps. Everything was opposite of the way it looked: the good things were bad and bad things were good. Only the girl could see what was really in the hallways and she had to convince the others with her to not be afraid. A small crop of daisies looked friendly and inviting, but they were actually poisonous spikes that would instantly kill anyone who touched them.
Also, in one room sat the most comfortable bed in the world. But instead of a bed, it looked like a deep, never ending pit. Everyone had to put complete trust in this girl who could tell it was actually safe. That picture sparked more ideas and many things fell into place. I didn’t even know it would be a YA sci fi book at first, but the more I wrote, the more it fit that genre.
Besides that picture, the very first scene I imagined was the one that takes place in Chapter 25. Basically the entire story and conflict revolves around that scene. It was a lot of fun to write it like that!
How did you choose Egypt as the setting?
I knew I needed a dark, enclosed area with passageways and tunnels for the characters to travel through. I looked into catacombs, labryrinths, and mazes. After researching their definitions, I decided it would have to be catacombs. Originally, I planned to create completely fictional catacombs. But then I discovered the catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa.
The history of these catacombs was too fascinating to ignore, so I had to use them. My favorite thing about them is how the design incorporates Egyptian, Greek, and Roman influences. The best example of this is in the main room on the second level of the catacombs.
If you’ve read the book, you’ll remember this. Outside the main room, a snake statue is carved onto either side of the entrance. The snakes represent a good spirit from Greece. On the snakes’ heads are double crowns from Egypt. The snakes each hold a staff from Rome. All three cultures are represented in one statue. Throughout the catacombs, many of the statues are similar. Some of the statues feature people who have Grecian features, but wear Egyptian clothes. I thought this blending of cultures would be the perfect setting for a YA sci fi book.
The only difference between the real catacombs and the catacombs in Truth Seer is the amount of flooding. Right now, the entire third level of the catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa is flooded. But the first and second levels are open for tours. You can watch this YouTube video to get a little tour of the catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa.
If you are interested, learn more about the catacombs here.
What’s your favorite quote?
I don’t know if I can choose one favorite, but one of my favorites is from Professor Santini. I explain it more in the author interview on my publisher’s website. It wouldn’t be a true YA sci fi book without some discussion of truth.
Another one of my favorite quotes is this one:
“Just because it’s bad, doesn’t mean it’s not true.” Imara folded her arms across her chest and turned away from him. “The truth hurts.”
When Abe spoke, his words were filled with anguish. “It doesn’t have to…”
If you’ve read the book and read my author interview, you’ll understand why I love this quote so much. Basically, Abe is awesome. 🙂
What kinds of things did you learn while writing Truth Seer?
One of the best, but also most time consuming things about writing a YA sci fi book was the amount of research needed. Since it’s science fiction, everything had to be scientifically plausible. Even though it took a long time, I really enjoyed it.
I learned so much about the eyes! A few times through the book, Imara talks about “Troxler puzzles.” The idea for that came from the Troxler effect (or Troxler’s phenomenon). It’s an optical illusion which affects visual perception. Basically, when you fixate on one point, the unchanging visuals around that fixation point will seem to disappear.
This article explains it a lot better than I can and it shows a cool example with a picture of a cat.
Here’s another example with a cool optical illusion called a lilac chaser.
I’m really excited to incorporate even more cool facts about the eyes in books two and three. Here are a few of my favorites, which may or may not be included in future books:
- Eyes can’t be transplanted (at this time). Over a million nerve fibers connect eyes to the brain. At this time, we are incapable of reconstructing those fibers through transplants.
- Eyes heal faster than almost any other body part. It only takes two days to repair a scratch on the cornea.
- 80% of what we learn is through the eyes.
- You see with your brain, not your eyes. Your eyes are more a camera, which collects data that the brain interprets.
- About half of the human brain is dedicated to vision and seeing
- Our eyes have blind spots where the optic nerve passes through the retina, and our brains use the information from the other eye to fill the gap.
Word I Learned from Writing a YA Sci Fi Book
I learned a few new words while writing Truth Seer. Words like Troxler, but also some Swahili words. Did you know that hila, wasomi, and mashimo are all Swahili words? As you may remember from reading, the girl with the first hila was from Kenya. And in Kenya, most residents speak Swahili. Hila means trick, wasomi means elite, and mashimo means hollow.
One of the coolest things about reading fiction is it can increase the size of your vocabulary. Learn more about this and other benefits of reading fiction.
What’s in store for book 2?
I am so excited about book 2! I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that you’ll get to learn a lot more about Abe and his life/past. You’ll also be introduced to a new antagonist. If you’ve read my YA sci fi book Truth Seer, but haven’t read Keiko’s story yet, I highly recommend it. Keiko’s story takes place while Imara and the others are down in the catacombs.
Full disclosure, reading Keiko’s story might leave you feeling a little like the dog in the second picture below.
What else is happening in my life?
On an unrelated note, I turned a corner of my home into a “book nook.” Basically, I just put a fuzzy blanket down, put some pretty pillows in the corner, and put a stack of books in the middle. My kids love it! The space is too small for me, which is a little disappointing. I kinda want a book nook for myself now. Anyone have some good spots for a book nook?
While you’re waiting for my new YA sci fi book (Book 2 of the Truth Seer Trilogy), be sure to check out my short story series. I write a new short story each month using story elements that you get to vote on!