Part of the magic of writing a novel is how reality gets transmuted into fiction—and fantasy. At the center of my novel Light Runner is a teenage girl, Dara Adengard. When a powerful healing armband falls into her hands, she’s thrust into a perilous search for her father, clues about her mother’s recent death—and the truth about herself. Dara soon discovers that the armband—which she learns is called the Jyotisha—has the power to heal wounds, injuries, and illnesses.
Prior to Light Runner, I wrote a couple of astrology books. Astrology—especially as it is practiced in India—has been a strong interest of mine for quite some time. I originally got the idea for the armband from a book called Autobiography of a Yogi, which describes an astrological “bangle” made from interwoven gold, silver, and copper, designed to combat “the adverse effects of subtle cosmic influences.” That’s a far cry from Dara’s Jyotisha, which can heal a gunshot wound, but part of the writing process is taking an idea and molding it into a different shape, seeing what it can become.
One of the most fascinating things to me as a writer is this process of transmutation—how an idea or concept morphs into something quite different. For example, fiction writers often base characters on real people—someone the writer has known or seen. But the final creation of that character—if done well—ends up being a total individual, not just a copy or rip-off. A goal in writing Light Runner was to keep it real, not get lost in abstract phenomena. One reviewer even commented that she could see parts of the story showing up on the news or a Twitter feed.
In India, there is a form of astrology called Vedic astrology, or Jyotish. Jyoti is a Sanskrit word meaning light, and Jyotish is the study of star or planetary light. I liked the word mainly for its overall meaning—light—as it applied to Dara’s armband and simply added an “a” to it.