Tuesday, November 1

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, November 01, 2011 9 comments
by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)

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The very first image—the first brain spark—that inspired Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) was filled with the effects of intolerance. The idea of a world where everyone read minds, except one girl, sprung into my mind as a setting: the girl, sitting in a high school classroom, surrounded by her mindreading classmates, but as isolated as one human being could be from another. She didn’t speak their mind-language, but it was more than simply being a deaf-person in a hearing world. She was mistrusted, shunned, because they couldn’t understand her. They feared her, because she was the definitive other in their world.

The idea of other has always fascinated me. As a girl, I grew up on aliens in Star Trek and sentient robots in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. Embedded in those stories was the idea that a being who looks, acts, and thinks nothing like you could still be a person—this is an enduring tradition of science fiction and one that I wholeheartedly embraced. I liked this exploration of what it meant to be human, and I think the best SF has always been about the human in the technology.

In Open Minds, someone who can’t read minds or be read by others is called a zero, a not-so-subtle pejorative that reminds them of their value in the society. Zeros are mistrusted in a world where every thought can be known, except theirs. In this mindreading world of the future, trust is built on complete openness—every thought you have is known by everyone in the room. There are no secrets, no white lies, no social niceties. It’s a rather coarse world in many ways, but also a credulous one. Of course you tell the truth; how can you not? So someone who is capable of keeping a secret is feared as someone completely outside the normal social structure. How could you ever believe a thing that person said? How could you trust them to run the cash register, much less do anything of importance?

Kira, raised in this society where trust and truth are intimately connected, discovers she has a giant sized secret—one that might finally allow her to fit in. All she has to do is lie and mindjack everyone she loves.

Although the theme of intolerance in Open Minds was there from the very beginning, it definitely evolved as I wrote the book. I began to discover all the ways that the intolerance of Kira’s world affected not just her, but the other characters in the story, and eventually the society as a whole. Kira handles her secret and the choices that go with it in one way, but the other characters handle it much worse (or some better). In spite of being mindreaders and mindjackers in a future world, the characters were all still human, subject to all the weaknesses and inner strengths that come with being human.

I’m working on Closed Hearts now, and as the title suggests, the theme of intolerance gains ground in the second book. It fascinates me to create characters that can play out all the possible ways that people can react to an evolving world. Sometimes it feels like our world of 2011 is moving ahead at warp speed, but when the world truly shifts, you can tell the character of a person by how they shift with it. I hope, throughout the Mindjack Trilogy, to honor the fine tradition of science fiction in exploring all the ways we are human.

See more guest posts about Open Minds at the Virtual Launch Party!

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) by Susan Kaye Quinn is available for $2.99 in e-book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords) and $9.99 in print (Amazon, Createspace).


Susan Kaye Quinn is giving away an Open Books/Open Minds t-shirt, mug, and some fun wristbands to celebrate the Virtual Launch Party of Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)! Check out the prizes here.


  1. I can't wait to read this book!!!!!

  2. Very much looking forward to reading this book. Love Susan's explanation of how the theme of intolerance grew as she was writing. What an amazing and intriguing concept this book explores. Well done, Susan. I wish you all the success in the world!

  3. @Laura I can't wait for you to read it! :)

    @Jessica Best wishes to you as well! You've got a tour-de-force going with your blog tour!

    @Laurel Thanks so much for being a Party Host and letting me take over your blog for a day!! :)

  4. I've just started your book and looking forward to see where the story takes me. Thanks for the theme post, Susan--this can be a tough element to master. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  5. I'm so impressed, Susan, with how you developed the theme in this story and will continue with it even more in the second. I like a story that explores issues of import while still be a page-turning thrill. From what I've read in the sample chapter and the posts you've written about it, this sounds like such a book.

  6. This sounds intriguing. Like everyone else, I love how the theme kept growing and growing as Susan wrote. I have a hard time with theme--thanks for the post!

  7. Laura: intriguing concept isn't it?

    Jessica: I'm so glad she was willing to share about her theme. It intrigued me too.

    Susan: You're most welcome. Thanks for sharing about this fascinating topic!

  8. Angela: I like how Susan's interest in a larger theme was so foundational to how she approached her world building and characterization.

    Tricia: It's a beautiful thing when a writer can explore a theme through active storytelling--weaving it into both character and plot.

    Kelly: I think Susan does a good job of explaining how story can grow out of theme. But it can work the opposite way too--theme can become clear as you develop a character and plot.

  9. What a wonderful review, Laurel! I am BEYOND excited for Susan, and I hope this book is a huge success--it deserves to be. :-)