BP Note: Good morning. Today we have a guest post by Amanda Pillar, author of Graced.
City Guard Elle Brown has one goal in life: to protect her kid sister, Emmie. Falling in love–and with a werewolf at that–was never part of the deal.
Life, however, doesn’t always go to plan, and when Elle meets Clay, everything she thought about her world is thrown into turmoil. Everything, that is, but protecting Emmie, who is Graced with teal-colored eyes and an unknown power that could change their very existence. But being different is dangerous in their home city of Pinton, and it’s Elle’s very own differences that capture the attention of the Honorable Dante Kipling, a vampire with a bone-deep fascination for a special type of human.
Dante is convinced that humans with eye colors other than brown are unique, but he has no proof. The answers may exist in the enigmatic hazel eyes of Elle Brown, and he’s determined to uncover their secrets no matter the cost…or the lives lost.
E’s thoughts on Graced will be posted tomorrow (she really liked it), but as she was looking at the blurb the first thing which sprang to mind was how it suggested a science influence. So when Pillar was willing to provide a guest post, she couldn’t resist asking Pillar if she was willing to talk about how science influenced her story. Enjoy and don’t forget to check back tomorrow.
The science of Graced
I love science. It’s fascinating. I’m an archaeologist by trade, and I also got a physics degree in my misbegotten youth. And so when it came time to write Graced, I wanted a world that had a strong history and, well, a non-magical origin.
Although, some people would argue that vampires and shape-shifters have to be magical to some extent. But let’s ignore them…
In the Graced universe, there are four races: humans, vampires, shape-shifters and Graceds. Darwinism, and the concept of speciation, was at the forefront of my mind when it came time to develop the races’ history. But what would have happened if speciation did not occur in nature, but rather, in a lab? What would happen if, say, humans decided they wanted to make themselves immortal and used DNA manipulation to try and achieve such a crazy goal?
It wouldn’t be something easily achieved. And it wouldn’t occur overnight. Existing traits would have to be manipulated and changed, results measured and improvements made.
And so the Graceds were created. They were the first step on the way to immortality, which would eventually lead to the vampires and weres. Graceds are psychics, with abilities denoted by their eye colours. There was a method for my choices. But it also meant I needed to understand how and why eyes were different colours, and the general presence of these colours in the populace.
According to my research, eye colour is not the simple Bb, BB, Bb, bb process we were taught in high school. Over 10 different genes are thought to influence our eye colours. And eye colour isn’t as simple as pigmentation equals hue.
• Brown eyes are brown because of the presence of melanin; ie, they are brown as the eye is coloured brown. It is thought that all humans once had brown eyes.
• Blue eyes do not have blue pigmentation. They have melanin, which is brownish-black. The light is reflected through Rayleigh scattering, which produces the blue colour (this is what makes the sky blue!). Blue is therefore considered to be a ‘structural colour’ – where the structure of the eye affects the light scattering effect and hence, the colour. Blue eyes are actually thought to originate approximately 10,000 years ago from a genetic mutation that took place near the Black Sea.
• Green eyes are also caused by structure, rather than pigmentation. It is thought green eyes have an amber base, rather than a brown (amber eyes have a pigment called lipochrome, rather than melanin), which then undergoes Rayleigh scattering. So yellow plus blue equals green. Green eyes date to at least the Bronze Age, and were present in south Siberia at this time.
• Gray eyes have a similar origin to blue eyes. It is thought gray eyes may have more collagen than blue eyes, which might be a cause of the difference in colour. They may also undergo Mie scattering rather than Rayleigh scattering.
• Hazel eyes are also the result of Raleigh scattering, and potentially a combination of amber/brown colours in the iris.
So when it came to the Graceds, I wanted to provide abilities that matched colour. This was a little more esoteric. Eventually, Green stood for telepathy, Gray for telekinesis, and Blue for empathy. Brown eyes meant you were a normal human, with no genetic ‘improvements’. And Hazels were a mix of Graced and human. A bit of brown, a bit of green, a bit of blue…and voila! A new race is born.