Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Genesis of IXEOS

My new release, IXEOS, is in a new genre for me. I don’t usually start out writing with a particular genre in mind, I just write the story that developed in my head. But unfortunately, you have to pick a genre when you publish it, and you’re only allowed two.  My book is really Young Adult sci-fi fantasy dystopian, but apparently that’s not an standard genre. Huh, strange.

Here’s the genesis of the story:

Late last winter, I picked up a National Geographic magazine in a doctor’s waiting room and read a fascinating story about the almost-200 miles of tunnels that are under Paris. There is a whole community that uses these tunnels (illegally) called cataphiles, and there are others who work for the City who check the tunnels for safety, cave-ins, and that kind of thing. Miles of the walls are covered with artwork and amazing graffiti, and there are walls of bones, which have been made into decorative patterns from the bones of an over-full cemetery. In short, it’s really fascinating, and I knew right away that those tunnels would be in a novel one day.

The second event was the following summer, when my daughter and I were kayaking around Beaufort, NC. We beached on Carrot Island, which is a narrow barrier island in front of the town, and walked over the dune to see what was on the other side. We expected more water, but not what we found: a perfectly round pond that was teeming with water birds, including a flock of mallards. We were looking around the area, noting the feed station for the wild horses that live on the island, when we realized the ducks were gone. Just gone. They hadn’t flown away, but they were nowhere to be seen. We walked around the whole pond, thinking they’d snuck into the reeds, but we never saw them again.

For a couple of weeks after that, my daughter and I sent each other funny, random texts about “where the ducks went.” They went all over the place in our imaginations! And then one day, I realized that the ducks could go to those tunnels in Paris, and IXEOS was born.

Having the McClellands follow the ducks into a tunnel and end up in Paris meant that there could be fantasy elements in the story. I researched other cities in the world that had tunnels and was surprised to find how many do. That led to the idea of portals in the Paris tunnels that led the outsiders all over the world. And from there the plot really took off.

I didn’t expect the book to become a trilogy, but I realized that I wouldn’t be able to fully resolve the problem of the humans and the Firsts in just one book. It was a relief to be able to spread it out and really explore the world and the characters rather than trying to cram such a large plot , involving the whole world, into one book.

I love history, especially what I guess you would call somewhat trivial history, and this book has a lot of historical elements, as well as the geographical elements of them traveling all over the globe. I had no idea that there were so many manmade tunnels out there, although I learned that there are virtually none in Africa. Since I travel a lot to Africa, that was unfortunate, as I always like to write about the places I’ve been and the people who live there. Still, there are a lot of interesting locations in IXEOS and the following two books, and I had a lot of fun researching them.

As the story expanded, the theme of “purpose” really came through. I have kids the ages of the main characters, and we have been in the “what should I do when I grow up” phase for a few years now. I really believe that young people can make a real difference, and it was fun to explore the process of American teens being thrust into a life and death struggle where they have a definite purpose, and where they can – and really must – fulfill it.

I write to entertain, and that is really my first and foremost thought when I’m planning a book. I hope IXEOS does that, and that the action and characters keep you reading and wanting more of the story. If I’ve done that, I’ve done my job!


 Author Jennings Wright: Born and raised in Florida, Jennings spent her early years reading anything she could get her hands on, when she wasn't spending time in and on the water. She won a prize in the 6th grade for her science fiction stories.

Jennings attended the University of Tampa, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science, and almost enough credits for B.A.s in both English and History. She attended graduate school at the University of West Florida, studying Psychology. She spent time over the years doing various kinds of business writing, editing, and teaching writing, but mostly having and raising her family, homeschooling her children, owning and running a business with her husband, and starting a non-profit.

Thanks to a crazy idea called NaNoWriMo Jennings got back into creative writing in 2011 and hasn't stopped since. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, also a business owner and writer, and two children, and travels extensively with her family, and her non-profit in Uganda.

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