Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Gathering Dark: The Science Behind the Fiction

Hitting shelves next Tuesday is Christine Johnson's next book The Gathering Dark, and to celebrate, Christine is here today to talk all about the science behind the fiction in this one! So let's get to it.

THE GATHERING DARK is science fiction. It gets labeled “paranormal” a lot, I think partly because my previous novels were paranormal, and partly because there’s a serious romance in THE GATHERING DARK and a girl in a fluffy dress on the cover.

But the thing is, it’s science fiction. Without science, and the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, THE GATHERING DARK would never have come to be. On March 30th 2010, the first collisions took place between two 3.5 TeV beams, setting a new world record for the highest-energy man-made particle collisions, and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) began its planned research program. NPR aired a story about it. I happened to hear the story while I was driving home. I’d had an idea about a girl from an alternate universe bouncing around in my head for some time, but I’d never been able to get it to coalesce.

And then I heard that NPR story. While explaining the LHC, the reporter also mentioned dark matter - something that exists in the universe in quantities much higher than the sort of particles that make up you and me and the air and everything else we can touch. The reporter explained that this stuff was all around us, all the time, moving through our living rooms and our cars and our BODIES.

I sat in the car, listening to the end of the story, and thought about something I could never touch or see, moving through me right then. I shivered. It was so perfect.

In that moment, the idea for THE GATHERING DARK came to be. I spent the next year or so reading physics books and journal articles. I bothered scientists I knew, asking them for help, which they kindly gave me. I learned everything I could about dark matter, and then I created a fictional universe out of it.

Writing THE GATHERING DARK was the most fun I’ve ever had writing anything. EVER. The science and the romance dovetailed together in a way that made it a joy to sit down and write every day. I hope it’s half that much fun to read, at least!

If you’re interested in learning more about dark matter and dark energy (which you should be, because it’s amazingly cool,) you can start small, with these articles:

1) Dark Energy/Dark Matter, by NASA

2) How Dark Matter Works

Or read one of these books:

1) Einstein’s Telescope; The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe by Evalyn Gates

2) The 4% Universe; Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality by Richard Panek

Also important to note: You don’t have to be a scientist or mathematician to be interested in this. It’s okay to skip the equations or the really technical bits of this stuff if you just want to know what it’s generally about. Don’t get intimidated!

So there you guys have it! If you want more about Christine and The Gathering Dark, be sure you check out all the tour stops!

And now, for your chance win a copy of the book or a swag pack, just enter here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Really cool - I love dark matter and had no clue The Gathering Dark was science fiction, not paranormal.

  2. I cannot wait to read this! =)

  3. sounds like a very cool read! can't wait to get it into my hands!

  4. sounds awesome! good to know the difference for the genre of this book!
    I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!


  5. I love how Ms. Johnson took inspiration from a news report and turned it into science fiction (very soundly science-based sci-fi). That's awesome!

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  8. I never thought this is a science fiction book because of the cover. It screams "paranormal" to me. I love it how you got the idea, from the news!!!

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  10. Interesting. Now I really am curious about this one. I can't wait to read it. Thank you for sharing =)

  11. Wow! I will look up dark energy. I like learning while I'm reading for fun! :)