Vail Valley author’s new book is a psychic thrill ride
Jennifer Alsever will talk about ‘Extrordinary Lies’ at a Friday morning virtual Bookworm event
Award-winning author Jennifer Alsever’s new book, “Extraordinary Lies,” is a psychic thrill ride.
Alsever, who lives in the Vail Valley, had finished her young adult fiction trilogy, “The Trinity Forest Series,” when her husband, Kevin O’Donnell sent her a Flipboard article about a Russian psychic during the Cold War. Alsever’s imagination started spinning as a great novelist’s will, and her legions of fans will be happy to know it planted right back in front of her keyboard. “Extraordinary Lies” was published this spring.
Alsever will talk about the new paranormal mystery at 10:30 a.m. Friday in a new virtual chat series hosted by the Bookworm of Edwards. You can find the link to the Zoom call on the Bookworm’s website.
Psychic arms race
That Flipboard article described how a woman named Nina Kulagina kicked off a “psychic arms race” between the U.S. and the Soviets during the Cold War. When American officials discovered the Soviet research into her psychokinesis powers, they began funding investigations into supernatural phenomena at Stanford Research Institute. That story inspired Alsever’s “Extraordinary Lies.”
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Set in San Francisco during the Cold War, the tale follows two supernaturally gifted girls, Julia and Charley, from entirely different worlds. They’re both sent to the Stanford Research Institute to be tested for paranormal abilities. Surrounded by others with powers like theirs, they finally make real friends.
But as the scientists’ tests grow darker and more dangerous, the two girls must unravel the truth behind the experiments — and the extraordinary lies they’ve been told to keep them in the dark.
After reading that initial Flipboard article about the Russian psychic, Alsever rounded up information about real-life psychic testing by the U.S. government in the 1960s and 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute. She devoured Annie Jacobsoen’s nonfiction book, “Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigation into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis.” Jacobsen’s book provided true-life facts and intriguing details from government documents and interviews outlining real experiments, the physics they tested, and the government’s efforts to build a team of psychic soldiers.
“Then my imagination took over,” Alsever said.
“Extraordinary Lies” carries a decidedly feminist theme as it deals deftly with friendship and family. It’s categorized as a young adult novel, but will appeal to anyone interested in Cold War intrigue, psychokinesis or simply a good escape from reality.
“It’s perfect for fans of the TV series ‘Stranger Things,’” Alsever said.
“Extraordinary Lies” already has film and TV interest from Areu Bros Studios in Atlanta, as does her 2017 award-winning trilogy, the Trinity Forest Series (Ember Burning, Oshun Rising, & Venus Shining.)
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Friday’s virtual author event is another way the Bookworm of Edwards and local authors are connecting with readers as we find our way through the pandemic.
“I’m excited for this chance to talk to readers since the pandemic is a perfect time to pick up a book,” Alsever said. “Supporting the Bookworm of Edwards right now is vital, due to the crushing blow the pandemic has dealt to so many of our local businesses.”
Bookworm owner Nicole Magistro has been a huge supporter of both readers and local authors, Alsever said.
Reading is even good for you. Researchers have found that reading reduces stress, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, improves your memory, increases brainpower, and boosts empathy skills. It’s even been linked to longer life spans. There’s never been a better time to escape reality.
“Now is a good time for people who are bored, tired of hearing about coronavirus and locked in their homes to get book recommendations from the Bookworm and order online—whether it’s mine or another one—from their website,” she said.
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