Keeping an Open Mind—The Importance of Theme
by Susan Kaye Quinn,
author of Open Minds
(Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)
The idea of other has always fascinated me. As a girl, I grew up on aliens in Star Trek and sentient robots in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. Embedded in those stories was the idea that a being who looks, acts, and thinks nothing like you could still be a person—this is an enduring tradition of science fiction and one that I wholeheartedly embraced. I like exploring what it meant to be human, and I think the best SF has always been about the human being amongst the technology.
In Open Minds, someone who can’t read minds or be read by others is called a zero, a not-so-subtle pejorative that reminds them of their value in the society. Zeros are mistrusted in a world where every thought can be known, except theirs. In this mindreading world of the future, trust is built on complete openness—every thought you have is known by everyone in the room. There are no secrets, no white lies, no social niceties. It’s a rather coarse world in many ways, but also a credulous one. Of course you tell the truth; how can you not? So someone who is capable of keeping a secret is feared as someone completely outside the normal social structure. How could you ever believe a thing that person said? How could you trust them to run the cash register, much less do anything of importance?
Kira, raised in this society where trust and truth are intimately connected, discovers she has a giant sized secret—one that might finally allow her to fit in. She can control minds. All she has to do is lie and mindjack everyone she loves.
Although the theme of intolerance in Open Minds was there from the very beginning, it definitely evolved as I wrote the book. I began to discover all the ways that the intolerance of Kira’s world affected not just her, but the other characters in the story, and eventually the society as a whole. Kira handles her secret and the choices that go with it in one way, but the other characters handle it much worse (or some better). In spite of being mindreaders and mindjackers in a future world, the characters were all still human, subject to all the weaknesses and inner strengths inherent in our humanity.
I’m working on Closed Hearts now, and as the title suggests, the theme of intolerance gains ground in the second book. It fascinates me to create characters that can play out all the possible ways that people can react to an evolving world. Sometimes it feels like our world of 2011 is moving ahead at warp speed, but when the world truly shifts, you can tell the character of a person by how they shift with it. I hope, throughout the Mindjack Trilogy, to honor the fine tradition of science fiction in exploring all the ways in which we are human.
When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.
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.
Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) by Susan Kaye Quinn is available for $2.99 in e-book (Amazon US (also UK, France and Germany), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes) and $9.99 in print (Amazon, Createspace, also autographed copies available from the author).