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Why do we care what people think? SJ Kincaid takes you inside the wormhole of perception!


You have your own thoughts, and your own perceptions, so why do you then worry about what you think others are thinking? For Nemesis in SJ Kincaid’s ‘The Diabolic’, she’s created completely out of what others think she should act and feel.

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Alright, so it’s a bit of a mind bender. But TRUST that she explains it better than we do. Bottom line is this: You’ll never think about yourself the same way again!

SEEING ONESELF THROUGH THE EYES OF ANOTHER

We are singular people. The content of the minds of others is ultimately a mystery. There’s absolutely no technology that lets us glimpse into and experience the thoughts of another. We have to gather any hint as to what’s going on inside the minds of others from words, demeanor and expressions – all a sliver of the story but never the whole. Life would be so easy if we could simply step into the minds of others and experience them as easily as we do our own. Many world conflicts would resolve instantly, for sure, but if we could ever do this, well, we would hardly be the same species of human that we are now.

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Although we can’t access the minds of others, they still hold power over us, whether real or imagined. Social pressures are real, especially to teenagers in the intensive atmosphere of school. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of valuing what we think others are thinking and seeing, what others are believing, even when those perceptions pertain to us.

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No one knows my mind and heart as I do, and yet I still find myself focused not upon that reality, but rather upon the perceptions I think others have as though they carry real power. It was a hundred times worse when I was younger, when I passed forty hours a week with people I didn’t choose to be in school with, but I think such an awareness of others never quite loosens its grip. It’s so easy to feel hostage to the imagined perceptions of others because these are not tangible foes that can be battled and slain – they are demons of your own mind projected upon others.

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My latest book, ‘The Diabolic’, explores a character whose perception of herself has been formed by others. Nemesis is a genetically engineered superhuman who’s been created for one purpose, and one purpose only: to protect a great galactic heiress. She is raised to see herself as others have taught her to see herself. She doesn’t think she’s a person with rights but rather she sees herself as the subhuman she’s been told she is.

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Her views of herself aren’t challenged in truth until Sidonia, the girl whose life Nemesis was created to protect, is called to face the Emperor on a treason charge. Then, Nemesis assumes the role of Sidonia and faces danger in her place – from then on, she is seen and treated and regarded as Sidonia. The emotions she’s been conditioned to believe herself incapable of feeling begin to creep upon her, and yet Nemesis cannot recognize them for what they are because she does not believe they can exist in her. She still sees herself through the same lens that she’s learned to apply to herself – as a creature, not a person. As a thing.

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The story is about a murderous royal family at the heart of an Empire, and one ally Nemesis finds among them, a boy with whom she’ll overthrow the Emperor… But alongside this exterior plot, it’s the story of a girl learning to view herself through a new lens and cast aside the perceptions others have had of her – the perceptions that have formed her view of herself. Nemesis faces the task of learning to look inwards and form her own idea of herself for the first time ever.

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As I’ve grown older, I’ve done much the same thing. I’ve learned to take a step back and catch myself when I seem to be thinking too much along the lines of, ‘What do other people think of what I’m doing?’ But it’s easy to fall back into it, and some people never leave that behind. Some people live their entire lives in the torment of being hostage to the expectations of others, whereas others – well, others shrug it off a lot younger than I was.

Whether Nemesis will or not, you’ll have to read ‘The Diabolic’ to find out.

Can something engineered by humans ever really have independent thought? What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!

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Written by Sarah Clare

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Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.