What on earth – or water – is liquigen? Fourth through eighth grade students in Palos School District 118 could tell you it is a liquid oxygen that allows humans to breathe underwater in the science fiction novel, “Dark Life.”
Students at Palos East, West, and South schools welcomed author Kat Falls on January 22 and 23 to discuss her books and what it is like to be an author; from writing and researching, to editing and publishing. They learned how she developed the subsea world of “Dark Life” where liquigen, bioluminescent humans, and houses tethered to the ocean floor with chains are a way of life.
Falls’ first book, “Dark Life” was the result of a writing experiment combining the science fiction and western genres. The idea orginated from her then 11-year-old son’s interests at the time; old-west pioneers, oceans, and X-Men. In a writing exercise, she combined the three interests, which ultimately evolved into her first youth science fiction novel, taking two years to complete. “Dark Life” follows the adventures of Ty, an undersea teenage pioneer, and his friend Gemma, a "topsider" from the surface looking for her missing brother. Together, they explore the undersea wilderness, encounter a gang of outlaws, and discover secrets of their aquatic world.
Author visits at Palos 118 schools are sponsored by the Parent Faculty Association’s (PFA) Reading Program. “We try to bring authors to our students who challenge their minds and encourage them to read,” said program coordinator Bridget Hammerstein, “Kat Falls was very engaging, and I know the students enjoyed having her here.”
Disney has bought the movie option to “Dark Life,” and it has been nominated for eight state book awards. In 2011, Falls was also given a Juvenile Literary Award by ”The Friends of American Writers.” “Rip Tide” is the sequel to “Dark Life,” and a third book is slated for the future. Scholastic Press will be releasing Falls’ first book in a new trilogy of near-future scifi series titled “Inhuman” in May.
Falls resides in Evanston with her husband and three children. She teaches at Northwestern University, where she also received her MFA in screenwriting.