Today I have a fast-paced sci-fi adventure to share and a special piece from author, Loris Owen, about the inspiration behind ‘squirls.’
Welcome to the dazzling world of Quicksmiths College of Strange Energy.
Kip Bramley isn’t exactly popular. So he is surprised and slightly suspicious when he’s approached by a drone whilst hiding out in his favourite tree. What it’s delivering, is an envelope containing a rather cryptic clue. Luckily, Kip is excellent at thinking logically and problem-solving.
After following a trail of equally head-scratching clues, Kip finds himself at Quicksmiths College of Strange Energy – a place full of people like him. People who are particularly sensitive to the ‘strange energies’ all around us and are excellent at solving puzzles.
Kip quickly finds himself at the heart of a treasure hunt set 400 years earlier by the college founder, Eartha Quicksmith. He and his new friends have to band together and use their collective wits to solve the ten riddles set and alter the course of the future.
What a fantastic read! I loved the whole concept of new energies being the next big scientific revolution. It was fascinating to consider that there might be alternate energies (and universes) around us which are as yet undiscovered.
Ten Riddles is an action-packed twisty, turny adventure which highlights the importance of teamwork, perseverance and thinking outside of the box. It’s mind-expanding inventiveness will take readers to a new dimension!
Now it’s time to hear from author, Loris Owen, about the strange squirls which Kip sees and doodles endlessly.
Phosphenes and Squirls
I’ve always been interested in the coloured patterns you get when you close your eyes. Everyone seems to have a different experience. It’s often so personal and so short-lived that it’s hard to describe what you’re seeing – like being in some sort of trance or dream.
When I rub my eyes, my own patterns change – they can be spinning vortices of suns with wiggly flares, or infinite warped chessboards with triangular tiles.
What do your squirls look like?
There is a word for these lights that exist within the eye without the influence of any external light – phosphenes, or eye flashes. Eye specialists believe that phosphenes are created when we rub our eyes and stimulate cells in the retinaalong with parts of the brain. Some people even get them after a big sneeze.
Astronauts outside the Earth’s magnetosphere experience something like phosphenes called cosmic ray visual phenomena that look like spots, clouds and streaks of light. Space researchers think that this could be high energy particles such as photons acting on the visual system.
Phosphenes have also been artificially created by electricity and magnetic fields and medical pioneers are investigating how they might be used to help visually impaired people ‘see’in a new way.
There’s something about these twinkles that quite literally sparks the imagination. The ancient Greeks knew about phosphenes and Plato suggested they were a fire that existed inside of us created by the gods. Isaac Newton was also drawn in by their hypnotic glimmer.
‘What if…’, my imagination said to me as I was writing, ‘…what if there’s more to these wonderful inner lights than any of us realise?’
In The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith, Professor Mo is especially interested in the patterns that surge in Kip’s inner space when he closes his eyes or rubs them. Only Kip sees these unusual spirals and corkscrew waves and they feel almost alive to him. The professor suspects that they are important, that they’re related to Strange Energy, a special sensory connection.
Kip gets lost in these patterns and begins drawing them from an early age. It’s his dad who gives them the name squirls. “‘Your drawings are halfway between squiggles and swirls,’” he says. “‘Squirls.’”
Kip has drawn his way through thirteen books by the time we meet him in Ten Riddles. And he’s always getting in trouble at school for doodling. But at Quicksmiths things are different. “‘You must keep drawing until it comes out of your ears,’” says Professor Mo. “‘Don’t you see, Kip? We want you to be yourself here!’”
And sure enough, the squirls turn out to be something incredible, something unique to Kip, a special kind of sight. In the book the only other person known to have this gift is Eartha Quicksmith. But it could be possible that there is someone else like Kip and Eartha out there.
Could it even be you?
Intrigued? THE TEN RIDDLES OF EARTHA QUICKSMITH by Loris Owen is out now in paperback. (£6.99, Firefly Press)
*Many thanks to Firefly Press for sending me this title to review*