Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Source: FAQs & Research References

Frequently Asked Questions from Readers of The Source by Melissa Darnell...

Question: Where did you get the idea for The Source?
Answer: When I first began to write The Source in the spring of 2009, it originally began as a YA fantasy similar to the Clann Series, where some of the characters were gifted with the ability to do magic, and others could not. This difference became the reason for a second American civil war that breaks out in the year 2015.

But then an interesting series of events occured in my personal life that ended up taking The Source in completely unexpected directions. It began when my husband learned about a book called Ask and It is Given by Jerry and Esther Hicks, which taught that your mindset and emotions have the power to attract people, things and events into your life. Kind of crazy sounding, right?

Then my husband picked up the book The Science Behind the Secret by Travis S. Taylor, PhD. We read it and were blown away by the scientific theories that supported this belief in the ability to draw into your life what you think about based on your emotions.

At first, I really struggled with this idea, even with the scientific basis to it. As a southern girl, I had been raised to believe that if tragedy hasn't happened today, just give fate a few minutes to throw something at you (and my crappy childhood certainly seemed to support this view as well). However, I also knew that, having been diagnosed with lupus since my senior year in high school, I certainly felt better and had far fewer lupus symptoms when I thought in positive ways and tried not to stress out about things. And while I couldn't see how just hoping for good things would bring them to you without some hard work of your own (i.e. God helps those who try their darnedest to help themselves), it was easy to see how having a positive outlook can affect your decision making, confidence and motivation to work towards higher goals. So I agreed to give the power of positive intention a shot and try it out.

Right after my husband and I both started to think positively, my husband lost his job. This seemed like the opposite of attracting good things into our life!

But we vowed to keep trying to think positively. And a few weeks later, I received an email from the editor of Harlequin Teen asking if The Clann Series #1: Crave was still available. I had been in the process of getting ready to self publish it after not hearing anything from them for 6 months. But I was all too happy to tell her that it had not yet been self published and was still available. She said Harlequin Teen was interested in buying it, but it would be several weeks before their meeting to make a decision on it.

And so the long wait began. During that wait, I tried very hard to stay positive and focus on what I wanted to happen with this book. And I didn't just want to find a home for it. I really wanted to get a 3 book deal for it and two sequels in the Clann Series! This seemed a pretty far fetched dream considering I had yet to be published by any New York publishers. But I held onto the dream and even took a risk and sent the editor a short summary for the possible two sequels.

The end result? Harlequin Teen offered me a 3 book deal for Crave and two sequels, which eventually became Covet and Consume! This, along with building an ebook and book formatting freelance business, supported my family financially and allowed my husband to stay at home for two wonderful years, during which he got to enjoy being a closer part of his youngest children's lives and watching them grow up. Essentially, what seemed a scary event (losing his job) became a true blessing for our family.

And then something else happened...while writing a particular scene in The Source (spoiler alert: the bus scene where a little girl has a seizure), my own youngest son Alex had his first grand mal epileptic seizure. Let me be very clear here...I wrote the scene in The Source FIRST. And then a few days later, my own child had his first seizure. Furthermore, not a single person in my or my husband's family has ever had a history of epilepsy that we know of, and Alex had never shown any signs of having this condition either.

Needless to say, I was more than a little freaked out. It was a coincidence, but boy, what a coincidence!

Do I believe my writing somehow caused my child to develop epilepsy? I sure hope not! And on the surface, the very idea seems a tad bit nutty (not to mention more than a little egomaniacal!). But it did spur me on to consider taking The Source in a different direction where, instead of magic, the human species as a whole begins to evolve and develop the ability to not only use the power of thought to attract things into their lives, but even develop what could be considered superhuman abilities. While these superhuman abilities are completely fictional for story purposes in The Source (no, no one in my family can throw fireballs or direct the wind with our thoughts), the lesser abilities in The Source do have quite a lot of scientific basis, which was carefully researched and painstakingly explained as well as a nonscientifically trained person like myself could manage when aimed at the average reader.

Question: Do you really believe the government is conspiring to use genetically modified foods and pollution of America's water supply through hydraulic fracturing (fracking)?
Answer: LOL No, not really. I am emphatically against fracking, and I do believe anything containing genetically modified organisms should be labeled so consumers can make up their own minds about what they want to purchase and consume, as well as give their families to eat. But I actually believe any mistakes our government makes is probably due more to a lack of education among the politicians, bipartisan animosity, their belief that the average citizen can't handle the truth, and good old fashioned greed from their receiving kickbacks from companies who stand to profit from otherwise harmful legislation that gets passed by corrupted politicians.

However, I do get a delicious thrill when I think about some conspiracy theories, so in The Source I wanted to play with the possibility of a huge series of government conspiracies that could be hiding the human evolution that is the premise of The Source. When I started looking up historical events that could possibly be used to support this fictional premise, my only problem became choosing which ones to use because there are so many! I had a lot of fun finding ways to fictionally tie in as many conspiracies as I could into The Source, including one alluded to on the cover but not discussed within the story itself!

Question: And that "hidden" conspiracy reference would be?
Answer: If you look closely at the center of The Source, you might recognize the carved stone as the Mayan Calendar. However, unlike many doomsdayers out there who believe this calendar points to the end of our world, I prefer to side with the more positive view that instead the calendar is indicating an age of enlightenment all over the world. And I really think we're in it! Take a look at how the belief in the power of intention and positive thinking has reached every area of the world in all walks of life, from scientists to religious leaders, professional poker players, lottery winners, sports athletes, celebrities like Oprah, Will Smith and Jim Carrey, and so many more! Now more than ever, people are waking up to the fact that how we think and feel really does affect every area of our daily lives. If that's not an age of enlightenment, I don't know what is!

Question: In The Source, you begin with a Fact page that states several facts used throughout this novel. You also include a References section at the end, which is unusual for a fictional story. Why did you decide to include these nonfiction elements in an otherwise fictional story?
Answer: My two all-time favorite authors are Dan Brown and Michael Crichton. Both excelled at taking real facts and building fictional stories around them in such a way that as a reader I was completely sucked in. Nothing helps suspend belief like threading in true nonfiction elements into a fictional story. But a lot of that suspension of belief can be lost if as a reader you start to wonder which parts of the story are true or not. The Source is such a fantastical story that I didn't want readers to ever stop and wonder this same question. So I decided to include the Fact and References sections so readers know right off the bat what is true, what has been made up, and where they can learn more about the real world research that forms the basis of The Source.

To that end, below are several references to hopefully spur on your own journey in exploring more about the human mind and the power of thought and emotions!

(Please note that I am not affiliated with or friends with any of the following authors and experts listed. I do not know these people personally, nor will I make any money whatsoever if you click on any of these links or check out any of these sources! They are provided for your education only.)

The Science Behind the Secret by Travis S. Taylor, PhD
At Amazon
Author's website

How a U.S. District Court Revealed the Unsoundness of the FDA's Policy on Genetically Engineered Foods

Baseball Magic

Double-blind Test of the Effects of Distant Intention on Water Crystal Formation

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