Today’s guest post comes via Marie Harbon, author of Seven Point Eight. The beginning of this five-part epic is available in Kindle format for free today (4.16.12) at Amazon.
Researching the Read – The Theoretical Backdrop to ‘Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle’
by Marie Harbon
Seven Point Eight is a new sci-fi/paranormal series, uniting quantum physics, mysticism, fringe science, psychic powers, folklore, consciousness, complicated love, conspiracy and nostalgia. With such an array of ingredients, it was vital the underpinning theory remained accurate.
In a series of drafts, I laid the research down in layers. Prior to writing, a number of ideas floated around in my head, as I love to read non-fiction, the geekier the better. In particular, I already had the basic gist of some quantum physics concepts and knew the urban myth of The Philadelphia Experiment, which makes an appearance at the beginning and end of the book. (It returns in The Second Chronicle!)
The main layer included the scientific concepts, such as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and the basics of Einstein’s work, plus facts about the size of atoms, the ether wind experiment and the nature of the brain operating at beta, alpha, theta and delta waves. I presented these concepts as clearly as possible, without hindering the plot.
There are also a number of alternate history concepts in there, such as the quality of resonance inside the Great Pyramid and its acoustical properties. Mystical concepts unite with quantum physics, with a theosophical and Eastern twist.
Additionally, I unite consciousness research, looking at the nature of reality through mystical eyes and those of psychedelic substances. It draws together hallucinogenic substance use with the history of visionary experiences through the ages, seeing the Gods and Goddesses of folklore through new eyes.
Much of the inspiration for the alternate dimensions came from experiences of the brain on DMT, my own imagination and science fiction. We meet them in the first book, and revisit them throughout the series.
The last layer of research I laid down included the tidbits; historical events that were concurrent with the story, culture and music highlights, daily news, cars of the time and the general feel of the decade the scenes were set in. The First Chronicle begins in the 1940s, moves through the 50s and steams through the 60s, linking to two young characters in the modern day.
All my sources are listed in a bibliography at the end.
Yet, this is not written at the expense of the human story, for it’s very much a tale of community. The drama of love, betrayal, bitterness and above all, courage are closely interwoven throughout the story through the lives of five principal characters.
Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle is currently available through Amazon in paperback and in the Kindle store.
Seven Point Eight: The Second Chronicle is due for release in August 2012.
And for a special treat, here’s an excerpt from Marie’s novel.
Was it the people here or the place itself that was insane? Did its aura drive sane people crazy in insane places?
She reached the reception, where a rather matronly woman recognised her. Despite this, the woman announced herself.
She signed into the visitors’ book, which was then replaced behind the desk where it belonged, and she was escorted to the low security wing. It sat at the end of a long corridor, which was not well-lit but even so, light twisted acrobatically across the walls, as if projected by car headlights. Ava behaved as if the situation were normal; she didn’t want to attract undue attention to her erstwhile grasp of reality.
The route to Maria’s room passed some rather unusual residents and each time, Ava glanced through the window in their door, very inquisitive as to what their story was. The first curiosity was a dark haired man, who was always surrounded by reams of paper and this time, the woman felt a strong desire to enquire about him.
“Is he a writer or something?” she asked.
Her escort was surprised at her interest.
“We call him The Scribbler, as the only way we can manage his behaviour is to give him access to paper and a pen. He writes constantly, but it’s all gibberish, rows and rows of symbols.”
Ava gave him a lingering glance, feeling a sense of sadness regarding his predicament. What a waste of human life.
They passed another character, a blonde haired woman with an intense and seething look on her face. This time, she wasn’t restrained although she crouched on her bed, bearing a menacing expression on her face. When she saw Ava, she snarled.
“What’s wrong with her, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Her escort acquiesced to her questioning again.
“Schizophrenia… she hears voices, which she claims instruct her to do evil. She enjoys inflicting pain on others, so we have to isolate her.”
Ava was touched deeply this time.
“Like Maria’s original diagnosis?”
Her escort tried to smile sympathetically, although she said nothing. Ava made eye contact with the intense character behind the door, which sent a chill down her spine.
“She reminds me of the girl from The Exorcist,” she commented.
They turned the corridor, and there were two more people that Ava felt drawn to; a black man and woman, who resided in the same room. They appeared to be actors in a play of their own making.
“Lost in their own little world, aren’t they?” she said.
“We call them The Time Travellers, as they always insist they’ve travelled to the past and future. Most of the time they’re locked in an imagery scenario, living some other reality. We keep them together, as their behaviour is more manageable if we do so.”
The final curiosity that Ava had to ask about was a man with fair hair, who could often be seen punching at the walls, or shouting for books. He was oblivious to their presence and Ava’s gaze. On this day, he was standing in front of a wall, reaching out to touch it with his fingers.
“What is he doing?” Ava asked.
“He believes he can walk through walls,” her escort explained. “My, we’ve had some bruises over the years. I don’t know what’s worse, his wall or book obsession.”
They passed through some double doors, which required a security code to gain entry into the next corridor. There, they soon found room 104 and Ava paused outside.
“Has there been any change in her condition since I last visited?”
Her escort shook her head, sadly.
“She’s still in a persistent vegetative state, exactly the same as the day she arrived.”
Ava accepted the situation with reluctance.
“She’s the only living relative I know of,” she explained. “I was hoping one day I’d discover where we came from, who our parents are and if our father is still alive. Did you recover the file from the facility she transferred from?”
“I’m sorry, it’s still missing.”
Undeterred, Ava pressed further.
“Does anybody else visit her? They may be able to offer some clues to her history… why she ended up in this condition, when and why she cut her wrists…”
“I can’t disclose that information, it’s confidential I’m afraid.”
Her escort opened the door and Ava entered, determined to present a face of hope to Maria, her sister.