Q&A :: Marita Smith :: The Kindred Ties Series

August 09, 2018

Earlier this week I shared my thoughts on Marita Smith's debut #loveozya sci-fi series Kindred Ties (spoiler alert: I loved reading these! Click here to check out that post if you haven't seen it yet).
I'm thrilled that Marita was kind enough to share some of her thoughts in response to some questions I asked about Emergence and Convergence. Check out my very first author Q&A check it out to find out what she had to say about her books!


What was your inspiration for this series?
This series draws on science and humanity’s connection to the natural world .Studying the intricacies of chemistry and biology was like learning another language - while at university I would daydream about interesting phenomena during lectures and in the laboratory. For instance, our mitochondria, which produce most of our cellular energy, are the result of an ancient symbiosis event. It struck me as both terrifying and miraculous that all multicellular eukaryotes (us included) would not be here today unless one prokaryote engulfed another, billions of years ago. 
I began to wonder whether this organelle could have an even more important role, one that has lain dormant and long forgotten. What if a mutation on the mitochondrial gene sequence enabled humans to communicate with animals? I was also inspired by the year I spent working on organic farms alongside people highly attuned to natural rhythms. 
We’ve largely lost that sense of balance with the natural world as a species. I began to imagine a world in which individuals formed a bond with a specific animal as a result of their mitochondrial gene mutation. Three people in each generation have an even more extraordinary ability – they are able to communicate with all animals from one of the three biomes of earth, water, and air. Because of the rapid environmental changes on Earth, these three ‘walkers’ have returned after thousands of years in a bid to restore balance. 

The series so far covers some classic YA themes, like coming-of-age and the struggle to figure out who we are. Did you set out to write the series for a YA audience, and if so was there a reason for this?
I think this series can be read and enjoyed by any age group, although I did have a YA audience in mind as I was writing. There are two main groups of characters – the teenage convergers and walkers, and the scientists in their mid-twenties – and I think it’s possible for a range of readers to identify with both groups. I definitely wanted to speak to a YA audience, expressing themes about the environment, science, LGBTQIA+ identity, coming-of-age, and facing adversity. This is a series I would have loved to read as a queer teenager trying to figure out who I was!

I absolutely loved that I could recognise bits and pieces of Canberra in the books, and that the main character, Robyn, was studying at the Australian National University in Canberra. Was it important to you to set it here?
Thank you! I loved studying at the Australian National University. I learned a lot about the world (and myself) during my time there, and it was really important to me to include a strong Canberran thread in the series. I would love to see more Australian representation in young adult books that are currently so dominated by American and European settings.

Do you have a favourite character in the series or one you most relate to?
Oooh, tricky question. I love them all! They all have their unique strengths and quirks. Creating Robyn, I definitely drew on my own experiences, so I do feel quite close to her character.

Without getting spoiler-y, some of the characters in the series have special bonds with animals. If you could have that kind of bond, which sort of animal would it be with?
So, I have actually thought about this A LOT, and I still don’t know. I adore my donkey Mindy, but it would also be super cool to have a telepathic connection with, say, a red-tailed black cockatoo, or a wallaby…then I start thinking about Australia’s ancient megafauna, and wow, no one would mess with you if your best friend was a 2000kg giant wombat. I would just be psyched for any animal to choose me, to be honest.

And finally, that question authors love: can you tell us anything about what you're working on next?
Yes! I’m currently busy working on Book 3, which will be released in 2019.


Thanks again so much to Marita for taking the time to 'chat' a bit about these books - I always think it is so amazing to get some insight from authors about their writing and inspiration, and I'm so pleased to be able to share it here on my blog! You can find Marita online here.

xo Bron

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