Hopkinton High Class of 2014 graduate Kyle Driscoll recently released a new science fiction novel The Single Source of Truth.
The novel’s protagonist, Angelea West, lives in a world run by her father, who is a disciple of the Sibyl: a platform of all known data in history. Her father commands Angelea to respect the Sibyl’s creations, from the impenetrable Silkfield surrounding every home to the immersive Virtuvian where she meets peers from a distance. The more she struggles to understand the nation’s single source of truth, the more isolated she feels.
But when Angelea, her father, and disillusioned government worker Teresa Walker peer beyond the Silkfield, they find their mechanical deity is not as flawless as it seems. Angelea’s empty existence becomes a fight for survival as she realizes how little her source of truth really knows.
We sat down with Kyle to discuss what inspired him to write this book, advice he can offer young writers, and any future projects he’s working on.
What inspired you to write The Source of Truth? Do you envision it as part of a series?
A lot of the inspiration came from things I was reading when the ideas arose in 2020, like Yuval Noah Harari’s terrific books. But the most direct inspiration was actually the COVID pandemic experience. In 2020 I split time between Hopkinton and my NYC apartment, working remotely with a lot of time alone with my thoughts, like everyone else. A lot of the more sci-fi elements of the book can be pretty clearly traced to that period of isolation and confusion. No immediate plans for a series, but the door’s always open.
What is your writing process like? Do you have any specific routines or rituals you follow?
A lot of writers preach the value of routines, but I have never been able to actually follow one. During this book I was writing at nights after work and on weekends, so there was always a limit on time and energy that had to be reckoned with. George R.R. Martin talks about writers being either “architects” or “gardeners,” and I tend to fall into the former, preferring to outline and plan things out before doing the real writing.
Can you talk about a particular character or scene from your book that was especially meaningful to you?
One of the storylines follows an aging priest and his experience through roughly the first half of the 21st century, living in isolation at a time where organized religion plays less of a role in society compared to the god-like technologies at our disposal. Writing about his struggles with faith and his position helped me work through some of my own thoughts about spirituality and our place in history.
How do you handle writer’s block or creative roadblocks when you encounter them?
Great question, and not an easy one. I definitely think there’s value in taking time away to let the ideas incubate. But also, it can be good to just force yourself to sit at the computer – even set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes – just to see what you come up with. Taking walks or doing something outside can help a lot too.
What are some of your favorite books or authors, and how have they influenced your own writing?
I think everyone in my generation who has a passion for reading and writing has a large debt to pay to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and the 10-year-old protagonist in my book is undoubtedly founded in her child characters. Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and Homo Deus, while nonfiction, provided the most influence on the subject matter of the book. The works of Gillian Flynn and George R.R. Martin were crucial in helping me learn the craft of writing itself, especially with the finishing touches.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are just starting out?
Once you start dabbling with writing, make sure to finish something to completion, even if it’s a one-page story. You can learn and build confidence so much more from that experience than from floating a bunch of unfinished ideas. Those small things can also serve as inspiration for future, bigger things, and I’ve found it very useful to connect those smaller ideas into a larger whole. The priest character I mentioned earlier was once a completely separate idea which I later folded into the broader story, as one example. And if, like me, you struggle with routine, my advice is to “make hay while the sun is shining.” When the inspiration hits you, don’t wait to act on it.
Can you share any upcoming projects or books that you’re working on?
I’m taking a break from novels for a while, until the next big idea I suppose. Other than fiction, I write music articles and reviews on my Medium page, some of which I have spoken about as a guest on the Something About the Beatles podcast.
What do you hope readers will remember most about your writing?
I hope that it is thought-provoking in some way, either about technology, spirituality, family, history, or any of the other themes. But most of all, I think it will be successful if readers are emotionally connected to or moved by at least one of the characters. At the end of the day, those are the stories that resonate with us most.
Readers can learn more about Kyle and The Source of Truth at the links below.