My name is Rachel Caldecott and in the winter of 2019, I published a YA/speculative fiction book, The Panopticon Experiment. It was the first novel I’d ever written.
Although technically no longer a new release, I am delighted that Readers’ Magnet has given me the chance to tell the world about it here in the Authors’ Lounge. After all the work in writing and publishing (any author will tell you how exhausting and nerve-racking that is) Amazon took it off sale for over eighteen months because of a problem with the bar code.
Before I talk about The Panopticon Experiment, I’d like to tell you how it first came into being. My two children were teenagers at the time and I enjoyed reading some of the books they were into. But after reading X number of dystopian page-turners, I was tired of teenager protagonists pitted in battles to the death, or assorted dysfunctional and violent political systems. The futures these books described were not futures I wanted to see. Knowing that humans are a weird mix of the absolutely terrible and the positively amazing, I hankered after a story in which the amazing and the positive took center stage and ultimately triumphed. I wanted to write about a world where humans learn from the mistakes of the past to create a better, more ecological, and sustainable future.
One day, while watching our tribe of cats interacting with each other, a simple question lodged itself in my mind. What if? What if animals are smarter than we think they are? What if society was built around the needs of all living creatures? Would we all be vegetarian or vegan? How would people react? How would it work? I already knew that pet owners build up a method of communication with their animal friends, but what if animal communication was the norm?
The story came in a rush and I endeavored to write it down as quickly as possible. I’d never written fiction before, and I struggled, but it felt important.
The story is set in London of the future, generations after the apocalypse of the late twenty-first century. Modified by the pollutants of the past, a mutant gene has evolved enabling human carriers to communicate telepathically with other species. A new society, based on species equality, has emerged. Of course, as in most novels, there needs to be some sort of dynamic tension. In The Panopticon Experiment the tension is provided by the Non-Comms; people who missed out on the Telepathy Gene. They are prepared to do anything to divide the species and eliminate the gene. The story is centered around three main characters; two human interspecies telepaths, Flo Harris and Seb Dyer; and a snow leopard called Lonce as they come up against the Human Supremacy League. I don’t want to give too many spoilers so I’ll leave it there
This book appeals to all ages; particularly to people interested in animal rights and the environment. While a ‘telepathy gene’ may be a thing of my imagination, I hope the story inspires people to care more about the planet, after all, it is pretty awesome as planets go without being preachy. It is, at heart, an adventure story and a tale of friendship with a mystery at its core.
The idea for the cover like this was initially my son’s and the girl in the photo is actually my daughter. As producing a cover is best left to the professionals, we explained our ideas to MiblArt and let them get on with it. I’m very happy we did. I think they did an excellent job.
I grew up in London in a family of writers, artists, and ecologists. I’ve been living in France with my family since 2003. My husband is a glassblower and we have two children. Our house is home to an assortment of cats and my daughter’s huge, beautiful dog called Atticus (after Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird). Since 2015, I have been heavily involved with the refugee crisis. I’ve collected, sorted, and delivered donations to the camps in Italy and shipped medical aid to Syria. I talk about this in my recent memoir called Blown Out Of Proportion – Misadventures of a Glassblower in France, published this May.
I have nearly completed the sequel to The Panopticon Experiment, called Ansted, which sees Flo travel to what’s left of North America – the New American Archipelago.
I’ve also completed a time-slip novel entitled INK SLIP which is currently doing the rounds of agents, so fingers crossed.
I sincerely hope you enjoy my novel, The Panopticon Experiment, or even Blown Out Of Proportion if you prefer non-fiction. You can reach me on my website:https://www.rachelcaldecott.com/ and I’m also on Twitter as @Caldecottbooks. I am really happy to interact with readers because after all, writing is about communication. Stay safe, and thank you for taking the time to read this.