The Science of Sci-Fi, Tick Style: Pt. 1

Simon says,

“They’re called botheads!”

I have been thinking for some time about writing a post about the scientific research that went into Tick, but found that the information (and the many connections to my book series) was an intimidating amount, too much to add into one block. So, I have decided to break them down into more readable chunks so that I can share with you the science behind the science fiction in my debut YA series, Tick.  This post commences Part One.

Let’s go back a bit. I honestly can’t say exactly where the inspiration came from for my YA sci-fi series, which is, in short, about Josephine Bristol, a teenage girl desperate to become an artist in a drone-surveyed Los Angeles where neuroscientists permanently “fix” people with brain disorders, a task perhaps not so daunting were she not plagued by a violent mental and emotional dysfunction. I have mentioned in quite a few interviews that my main character’s “tick” — as she calls it — bears resemblance to issues of my own adolescence, although not in the “art imitates life” sort of way that has caused readers to question my husband’s safety (people are worried!). Jo’s tick is rather a dramatized representation of my years suffering from a deep and dark depression and the journey I have taken to finally write a book about it. In my series, the use of these brain-adjusting doctors is a futuristic evolution of psychiatry, and I am in awe of how many readers have noted the possibility that sometime in the near future, neural brain adjustments can become something not only used for medical purposes, but for personal advance as well.

I didn’t just make this concept up. Scientists are in the process of targeting specific neurons in the brain to inhibit or assist the movement of signals between synapses, thus altering certain cognitive functions. The purpose for this research is hoped to be applied in treating brain disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, but it takes no stretch of the imagination to see how easily this technology could be used to “fix” people of minor inflictions, like their compulsion to drop $20 at a fancy coffee shop every day. The science is called optogenetics, and I’ll get to the specifics of it later in this post, but first I want to get into how I even learned about optogenetics in the first place. Continue reading

To Self-Pub or Not to Self-Pub

self_publishing1

Back when I first began this writing journey (seriously, anyway) I’d told myself I was going to become a legitimately hardcover printed, agent-represented published author and follow a traditional route from “aspiring writer” to “novelist”. My reasons for this mindset were based on my narrow understanding of the possible success of self-published authors and the stigma that goes along with being one. The more I saw writers plastering themselves on Amazon (because they could, dammit) made me less eager to be just another drop in the piss bucket. I’ve witnessed similar phenomena in other artistic arenas: anyone with a point-and-shoot digital camera can call themselves a photographer; anyone with a mic and Garage Band can call themselves a recording artist. Anyone with access to the internet and some sense of storytelling can become a published writer… It’s a similar bucket of nonsense in a lot of instances (really, in most instances), and another example of the many ruining the respectability of the few. So I said, “Screw that. Imma a be legit, yo. Continue reading