The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson is a science fiction thriller with a thread of romance. While aimed at new adults (ages 18-25), it’s also suitable for mature teens.
Nineteen-year-old Fern Johnson struggles to hold a job and ignore her imaginary friend. She only wants to care for her niece, and shield her from the same childhood—the same trauma—Fern suffered. A trauma Fern can’t remember, but that brought Tristian, her imaginary friend, into her life.
In The Girl Who Could See, a contemporary sci-fi, Kara Swanson weaves a tale layered in action, mystery, and suspense with hauntingly beautiful prose. Exciting and, at times, heart wrenching, this novella explores the themes of love and sacrifice. Fans who enjoy a blend of crime-thriller suspense, science, and heart will enjoy The Girl Who Could See. Highly recommended.
And, if you prefer audiobooks, the narrator does an excellent job of reading.
Violence (low) Mention of blood, bleeding, and violence. Nothing graphic or detailed.
Language (low) Two instances of the word stupid.
Sensitive Topics(low) Fern comes from a broken home. Mention of drugs, trafficking, and abduction. Nothing graphic or detailed.
About The Girl Who Could See
All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?
Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.
Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.
As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent her childhood in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate to characters dropped into a unique new world, she fell in love with the fantasy genre and was soon penning stories herself.
Shortly after moving stateside, Kara received the Mount Hermon Conference “Most Promising Teen Writer Award.” Her latest release, The Girl Who Could See, was a finalist for a 2018 INSPY Award and won the 2018 Parable Award.
Swanson is on the faculty for the Young Writer’s Workshop, alongside best-selling authors Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe, where they guide thousands of young writers. She is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency and has been on staff for the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conferenceand the Realm Makers Writers’ Conference. She works with many authors and editors as a communications and marketing assistant, as well as offering critique and proofreading services. She has had articles published in online and print magazines, including Brio Magazine, The Rebelution.com and Encounter Magazine.
Kara is passionate about crafting stories of light shattering darkness, forming sincere connections with readers, and becoming best friends with a mermaid—though not necessarily in that order.
K.A.: Laurie Lucking, the author of the lovely fantasy adventure Common, is here to give us an inside look into the world building featured in the story. Also, yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Common‘s release date!
Happy Book Birthday, Laurie, and thanks for coming on the blog. For those who aren’t familiar with Common, tell us a bit about it.
Laurie: Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.
Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.
And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.
But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.
Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.
Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?
Laurie: Common is a young adult fantasy story recommended for pre-teens, teens, and adults who enjoy fairy tales with happily-ever-afters. :)
K.A.: I love that the heroine is a maidservant. What sort of places will we travel to in the story?
Laurie: Most of the story takes place at the royal palace of Imperia, Dorendyn Castle, which is a large structure with white marble, tall windows, wide arches, and beautiful gardens. When my protagonist, Leah, is forced to travel to Trellich later in the book, she finds the mountainous landscape to be beautiful but desolate. Glonsel Palace, the home of the Trellan royal family, is a much darker building encased by a wall and topped with pointed turrets.
K.A.: Castles, gardens, and mountains–sounds beautiful. How are Imperia and Trellich different from our world?
Laurie: On the surface, Imperia and Trellich don’t look too different from a historical version of our world. The plants and landscape have some slight variations, but overall I think most of us would feel like we’d been transported back in time rather than to a fantasy world. But the differences show up during the course of the story – dark magic exists in these countries, though the sorcerers have been driven into hiding. Also hidden away in seclusion are women who can fight that dark magic with a power of their own derived from the Luminate.
K.A.: The nuns–those women hidden away in seclusion–they were some of my favorite characters. What inspired you to write about nuns with mystical powers?
Laurie: As for the nuns, I knew a sorcerer would be involved in the plot against the royal family, and I needed someone who would be powerful enough to fight against him. But I wanted their power source to come from God. I’ve always enjoyed studying the saints, and there was a particular group of saints called mystics who lived in seclusion to achieve a greater union with God. At the height of such union, they might receive a vision or revelation. Using my creative license as a fantasy writer, I took the idea one step further and made the mystics in my story capable of calling on their amplified union with God to perform mighty deeds in His name, thus creating sorcerer-fighting nuns!
K.A.: I never knew there were a group of saints known as mystics. That’s awesome! So what makes Common‘s world unique?
Laurie: The most unique aspects of the world of Common come from its history and customs. Imperia and Trellich have long been at odds with each other, making for a tense relationship between the royal families and a tightly-guarded border. The Gravedigger’s Bounty, an illness that spread quickly through Trellich and caused Imperia to close its borders completely for a time, only put further strain on their relations. While the royalty of each country have the opportunity to take pleasure in many lavish banquets and parties, the servants of Imperia look forward to the Peasantry Festival each year, when they’re allowed to take a day off to peruse food and goods vendors and enjoy music and dancing.
K.A.: Every story world starts with an idea. What idea inspired the story of Common?
Laurie: My world was really inspired by the story itself – as my story grew, the characters’ world developed around them. I love fairy tales, so I immediately pictured my story taking place in world with a quintessential fairy tale feel. And back in college I had the opportunity to spend a semester in England, so my travels there definitely inspired a lot of how I pictured the landscape and castles in Common.
K.A.: It sounds like you did a lot of research in writing this story. I know you have plans for a second book in this series, but can you share with us some of the research that went into this book?
Laurie: Most of my research involved historical details about carriages, clothing, building materials, etc. Since Leah embarks on a fair amount of travel during the latter portion of the book, I looked into how much ground can reasonably be covered in a day on foot, on horseback, and via carriage. I also did some research into the mystics of the early Christian church, since they were my inspiration for the unusual group of nuns that provide shelter and aid to Leah. I wish I could say more, but…spoilers! :)
K.A.: I understand. Definitely, don’t want to spoil the story for anyone else. :)
K.A.: I’m so glad you stopped by to talk about Common and the wonderful influences that went into building your fairy tale world. Thanks, Laurie!
About Laurie Lucking
An avid reader practically since birth, Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. When she gets a break from playing superheroes and driving windup cars, she writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of fairy tale romance. Her debut novel, Common, won third place in the Christian Women Reader’s Club Literary Lighthouse Awards, and her short story, “Threshold,” was published in a Fellowship of Fantasy anthology titled Mythical Doorways. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean young adult fantasy and science fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more by visiting www.laurielucking.com.