BC: How long have you been writing and what got you started?
JK: I started at 13 with an overly saccharine school essay about a marriage proposal at sunset. I dabbled with a variety of stories, frequently involving lots of teen angst and drama. Fortunately, I grew out of it and now write about adult angst and drama.
BC: How does your background in science play into your writing and influence your stories?
JK: My Biology major helped ensure my stories weren’t “too far out there.” A certain amount of realism is critical, especially for science fiction. I did a great deal of research as well, and the real trick was including it without making it look like I was trying to hit the reader with a wall of facts.
BC: Your Double Helix series takes place in an advanced world where there are mutants, clones, and in vitros. Tell us a little about the differences between these types of individuals. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What tensions exists between these factions of humanity?
JK: In the alternative reality of the Double Helix (which takes place on Earth), genetic engineering and research has spawned “human derivatives.” The clones are the easiest to explain. Put simply, they are exact genetic replicas of human beings who have lived before. However, you’re not just going to spend money cloning everyone, so inevitably, the famous people (typically ones who were naturally quite talented to begin with) are the ones who are cloned.
In vitros are genetically optimized human beings. Imagine a married couple in a laboratory deciding which of their traits will get included in their new baby. Does the baby get Mommy’s eyes and Daddy’s smile? How about Mommy’s intellect and Daddy’s athletic ability?
Mutants are humans with psychic abilities. Some of them were created in laboratories, however, more often than not, they naturally evolved. Mutants come in four flavors: telepaths, telekinetics, empaths, and pre-cognitives.
In general, clones and in-vitros tend to have more strengths and fewer weaknesses. They tend to be smarter, more capable, more attractive—all of which tend to breed unhappiness and resentment among those who “have not.” Tension naturally arises, and genetic inequality is as much a statement of class and social inequality. Mutants, on the other hand, come with a seemingly equal distribution of strengths and weaknesses, and in fact, psychic skills, poorly handled, can sometimes get the person killed.
BC: I recently read When the Silence Ends, your Young Adult novel about Dee, a normal human surrounded by those with special abilities. I soon discovered that this story is tied to your Double Helix series. How do these books relate and which do you recommend be read first?
JK: The Double Helix series consists of Perfection Unleashed, Perfect Betrayal, Perfect Weapon, and Perfection Challenged (coming out in September 2013.) When the Silence Ends is a Young Adult novel about two teenagers, Dee and Dum, whom I introduced in Perfect Weapon. It is a standalone novel, but it does fit within the overall world and timeline of the main Double Helix series. From a chronological perspective, it is best read between Perfect Weapon and Perfection Challenged.
BC: Alpha empath Danyael Sabre is a main character in your Double Helix series. What is the difference between alphas and other empaths?
JK: Empathy is a skill all of us have as humans, but empaths have the ability to control other people’s emotions. Empathy, compared to telepathy or telekinesis, is a weak psychic ability; a small tweak here, a tiny nudge there rarely makes a difference. Alpha empaths, however, are able to amplify their emotions and completely alter the mood in their surroundings. They can drive a crowd of people over the edge into a psychotic rampage or calm them down and turn them back.
Alpha-level empathic powers are troublesome though because of the amount of emotional self-control required to manage them. Most alphas are born with their mutant powers; infants and children have notoriously little self-control, and most alpha empaths tend to get themselves killed when they trigger the wrong emotion in others. (An alpha empath’s fear makes people fearful, their anger makes people furious, and negative emotions can backlash very quickly.) Danyael Sabre is among the few alpha empaths who survived an admittedly traumatic childhood, and become strong.
BC: What made you interested in writing about people with special abilities?
JK: Special abilities aren’t everything they’re chalked up to be. It’s more than just “with great power comes great responsibility.” Sometimes, special abilities isolate you from others and if you could live life over, you’d rather do without them. Danyael offers a compelling perspective into a man who can drive others to suicide with the amplified pain of his anguished memories. He’s an alpha empath; with a touch, he can heal or kill. Everyone wants what he has…except him. Under those circumstances, what does it cost to fight for your autonomy and your right to be left alone? It’s all he wants—not too much to ask for, but along the way, friendship and love will find him.
BC: Do you lean more toward plotter, pantser, or somewhere in the middle? What does your writing process look like?
JK: I’m in the middle. I have an overall plan to get from beginning to end, a couple of key scenes in mind, and I sort of work my way through the rest.
BC: Do you write to music, background noise, or silence?
JK: Either, depending on the mood. If I have music in the background, it’s most likely to be Westlife or Nobuo Uematsu’s Final Fantasy.
BC: Tell us a little about your next release or what project you are working on right now.
JK: Perfection Challenged, the fourth novel in the Double Helix series is scheduled for a September 2013 release. The book is ready; I’m just sitting around with a finger hovering over the “Publish” button. I’m currently working on City of Eternal Night, a science fiction (post-apocalyptic) paranormal-ish romance-ish novel, which I plan to release in December 2013.
BC: What are your favorite novels?
JK: Do graphic novels count? I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. I also enjoy David Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean books, and finally, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series.
BC: Coffee fuels writing—true or false and why?
JK: I actually don’t drink coffee. My husband coaxed me out of it when I was pregnant with our first son, and I haven’t returned to it since (in part because I had a month and a half of headaches getting over my caffeine addiction.) I guess the answer is false, since I’ve been able to write six novels since November 2010 without a drop of coffee.
Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Perfection Unleashed and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, have been described as “a breakout piece of science fiction” and drawn rave reviews for their originality and vision. Her latest novel, When the Silence Ends, is a Young Adult spinoff the Double Helix series. She is also the author of Earth-Sim, a whimsical and compelling view of Earth’s history through the eyes of the two students assigned to manage our planet.
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