My story about a girl who can turn invisible, the boy she’s crushing on, and the neo-Nazi scientist chasing them both keeps getting reviewed with words like “refreshing,” “fresh,” and “breath of fresh air.” (Yup, there’s a theme, and it is the opposite of, um, stale.) I write in the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal branch of YA, and it’s true I hadn’t ever read anything like my story before. And I read heavily in my genre.
So where did the inspiration come from? As far as the invisibility goes, an image in my mind led me to tell the story. The image was this: I saw a girl, relaxing while watching the Merced River (outside Yosemite) and suddenly she faded from view. Without noticing it herself.

That brought two questions to my mind, immediately: (1)Why did she disappear and (2)Why didn’t she notice that she disappeared? I wrote the story to get answers to those questions. But then, as I wrote, this dark back-story began to emerge and the Ripple Trilogy was truly born.

All three books contains numerous excerpts from the journal of a scientist working secretly in the late 1930’s. He’s the bad guy. He’s observing and interacting with children with names like “Fritz” and “Helga.” It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out that the man running the experiments is politically and philosophically a Nazi.

However, when I wrote the first book, I had the experience of discovering his affiliations. At first, I only knew that he had performed behavioral experiments upon a group of children as part of an effort to create a new and perfected race. The word “eugenics” kept dancing around in my head, and one day when I’d written as much as I could for the morning, I hopped online and googled “eugenics.” Wow! As I delved more and more deeply into the world of this movement in the early twentieth century, I realized I’d found exactly what my scientist would have been attracted to.

What I read was deeply repugnant to me—this was not fun research. But gradually I came to see that to some of the people of that day, the goal of human “perfection” felt simply like an extension of the search to hybridize a perfect plum or breed a perfect milking goat. The really disturbing part was that many eugenicists felt that plums or goats or humans that fell outside of their set of standards should be eliminated. And of course at that point, we travel in a straight line to the Nazi “Final Solution” and the horrors of the Holocaust.

Did I start out to write a contemporary story with a Nazi bad-guy? No. However, as my research took me further and further, I realized that I couldn’t have placed him better in time if I’d tried. My bad guy is, of course, entirely fictional. But the methods he employs to create his übermensch are grounded in early twentieth century eugenics and behaviorism.

So, there you have it: something old combined with something new to create something that just might feel like a breath of fresh air to you, too, if you’re a fan of YA.

You can contact Cidney on her blog atwww.cidneyswanson.blogspot.comor by email at If you like twitter, please say hi to @cidneyswanson, or if Facebook is your thing, stop by Her books are available at


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