For those of you who would like to play along with my “Cognitive Science of Fiction” class (at the University of Oklahoma), next week, we’re discussing the psychology of our relationships with fictional characters. The study linked above (Eval and Cohen, 2006) looked at the psychological effects of saying goodbye to your favorite characters when a show goes off air and highlights the similarities and differences between real-world and “parasocial” break-ups.
Mini-Excerpt from THE NATURALS, my YA FBI thriller. Cassie meets Lia, who’s a Natural at deception detection.
When I write, I often discover things in the process of writing. That was the case with Lake. She showed up on the page as this gun-toting, blond bombshell of a female werewolf who treated her firearms like pets (or possibly very deadly teddy bears). This is a re-enactment of what happened next.
HEAD JEN: Oh, she’s going to be so much fun! But why don’t she and her dad live with the rest of the pack? Did something traumatic happen? Is there a rift there? When did they leave? Why did they leave?
JEN: *write write write* SHE CALLS HER GUN MATILDA. *write write write* SHE CALLS HER GUN MATILDA, AND SHE HUSTLES POOL. WHAT ELSE MATTERS?
HEAD JEN: She’s female. And a werewolf. And I have already established that in this world, female werewolves are always half of a set of twins. WHERE IS HER TWIN?
JEN: Nope! No twin here! Only weapons!
HEAD JEN: Oh. Oh. Lake, you poor baby! You used to have a twin brother. And now you don’t. He died, didn’t he? When you were kids? And you never, ever let anyone see how much that still tears you up inside. I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER.
And that is pretty much how that decision was made. It didn’t really feel like a decision so much as a discovery.
It was a discovery that felt right, though. I liked that Bryn’s pack (especially the four initial members) were all defined in part by being outsiders when they were part of Callum’s pack. Chase was newly turned and not-quite-as-human as most of the Weres. Devon did not fit with the pack’s ideas about what a pure-blooded, destined-to-be-alpha male should be. Bryn was human. And Lake was a young female without a twin, in a world where that is seen as unnatural. The biggest loss of her life… and it can never, ever be private.
Also, she really likes to blow stuff up.
Anonymous asked: Do you think (know?) if pretty much all of the werewolves knew of Callum's knack but the younger generation?
Certainly all of the alphas know that Callum sees the future in some way. And I think there’s evidence, in the text, that Ali knew, and that Mitch knew. Given how long Sora has been in Callum’s pack, she almost certainly knows as well.
But there are a lot of members of Callum’s pack that we’ve never met on the page, and I’m not sure if they’re privy to it as well. Callum strikes me as the type of person who only parts with information when it serves a purpose for him to do so. It’s to his advantage for the other alphas to know how powerful he is. He needed Ali to know about his knack so that he could convince her to stay, become a part of the pack, and adopt Bryn. But I suspect that there are a lot of Weres in Callum’s pack who don’t know what he can do. And even among the people who know the gist of his knack, very few probably know its limitations (though Bryn gets a peak at them at the end of Raised By Wolves, and also in Taken By Storm).
Anonymous asked: how does it make you feel when you think about the fact that the raised by wolves series metaphorically tore my heart out and created a river of tears but it was so mind-blowingly amazing it pulled me back in to read the entire series again?
Does it make me a horrible person if I said that it makes me feel really, really good?
I didn’t craft the ending of Taken By Storm for the *purpose* of tearing out people’s hearts… but I think the ability to create emotions (of all kinds) in readers is one of the most powerful things fiction can do. So thank you, for your kind words and emotional investment! They are both appreciated. :)
I just caught up on Vampire Diaries. OH MY GOODNESS!
I was so busy tweeting about how awesome Caroline is that I almost missed the end of the episode. Those last three minutes! OH MY GOODNESS! Katherine, how I have missed you! Please never go away. Shirtless Jeremy, are you really dead? But… but…
Also, I’m psyched that Rebekah has joined the cast of the ORIGINALS spin-off. I would watch Elijah, Rebekah, and Klaus having sibling drama all day long!
That is all.
Anonymous asked: I just finished your book Every Other Day and I really loved it. I'm also a huge fan of your Raised by Wolves trilogy. You create the characters and the world so well that I can't stop thinking about them after I put the book down. Anyway, I have recently been seriously considering pursuing a career in psychology and I'm curious to know how you realized it was the right fit for you and if you have any advice you could give me? I would really appreciate it.
I’m so glad you enjoyed RBW and EOD! That makes me very happy. :)
My interest in psychology has much the same roots as my interest in writing—I am essentially interested in people, the way our minds and emotions and relationships work. I started college with the vague idea that I might be interested in neuroscience. Or possibly law. I ended up majoring in cognitive science, which was an interdisciplinary major that mixed psychology, philosophy, and linguistics (among others).
The thing that really sold me on psychology, though, was getting involved in research as an undergraduate. I worked in three different psychology labs, and my undergraduate advisor was such an incredible research mentor. We even published papers together. Ultimately, I got really into the science of psychology: asking questions, designing ways to get at them, and then ending up with actual answers.
The great thing about psychology, as a research discipline, is that there is a psychology of everything. If it involves people, it involves psychology. So there is, for instance, a psychology of fiction and the imagination. And that meant that I was able to do the science I loved, but on a topic I was equally passionate about as a writer. One of my friends in grad school was a former actress who was studying the psychology of acting. I knew other people who studied the psychology of art and music and ideas… morality, politics, religion, economics, prejudice… there are SO MANY things to study, and so many mysteries of the mind and human behavior to unravel.
So if you’re thinking you might be interested in going into psychology research, I’d recommend trying to get some experience working in a psychology lab to get some first hand research. If you’re interested in clinical psychology or counseling, I am not the best person to give advice, because that’s very different than what I do.