Shawntelle Madison | Crafting a YA Sci-Fi

Shawntelle MadisonUNDER MY SKINI’m so excited to visit Fresh Fiction again and chat about my latest release and how I finally got a chance to apply some of the graduate school classes I had about ten years ago. You see, I work as a web developer now, but before that I was a graduate student in information systems. A lot of my studies were related neural networks, artificial intelligence, that kind of thing. Wow, I gotta tell you I lived in front of the computer reading academic papers and right now its so much easier to write a story than write a dissertation. The sheer amount of research was mind-boggling. (Not that I still don’t have to do research, but it’s a totally different level.) I have a feeling some would disagree, but that is a story for another day.

In essence, UNDER MY SKIN is science fiction fantasy about a young woman’s fight to free herself from a man who wants to take over her body. He is a relentless general who is bent on living forever and she must learn to be courageous when she never had to be.

When I was writing UNDER MY SKIN, I wanted the technology behind the story to be as real as possible. In order to craft futuristic tech that would allow adults to take over the bodies of teens to live forever, I had to do a lot of digging. It’s not as simple as saying, ‘OK, they touch each other and his mind jumps into her head.’ I had to backup what happened with a plausible explanation. Have you seen the movie Transcendence with Johnny Depp? In a nutshell, a research scientist’s mind is uploaded into a computer and in his new state of consciousness he ‘transcends’ and becomes all-powerful. In the movie, the data that compromised his character’s conscious had to be recorded and then saved. (And if you just watched that movie to see hottie Johnny Depp, I totally understand that, too. Ahem, I digress.) For my story, I had to construct the technology in a similar manner. The human mind was a source of data that could be transferred from one brain to another using advanced tech. From there, other elements would come into play so that the host mind could be taken over by the intruder.

Once I had the basics down of how my bad guys took over the minds of teens, I next had to sit in the thinking man position, chomp on snacky-snacks, and figure out what the consequences of such a tool would have on society. Now this is where the world-building comes in and the universe explodes. For me, it was scary as hell. Power corrupts and if individuals with money and influence had the means to live forever, I can guarantee many folks would line up for the opportunity. Once you have people in power who want to live forever and have the means, they are most likely going to influence so many aspects of society from the government to the economy. It would all revolve around the business of maintaining the status quo. In essence, a military state.

What I wrote in the previous paragraph took me over a year to crunch and figure out. It’s amazing how far down the rabbit hole you can go when building a world, but the experience was worth it. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading paranormal/fantasy/science fiction. I want to escape into that world and learn about the little details and conflicts that make it hard for the heroine or hero to obtain their goals. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing wrong with forgetting that a bunch of research went into a book and just enjoying it for what it is: a great escape to a new world.



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