Did you know?
Science Fiction or Science Fact: A person can hold their breath longer than 6 minutes.
Fact! When I first started writing about Caryn, a girl who could hold her breath under water, I had her holding her breath for about 12 minutes. Which is 9 minutes longer than the average person can go without oxygen, at least this is what I thought. Then I did some research and what I found surprised me. In 2008 a man named David Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes! Here is the Time magazine article about it. Blaine accomplished this by training hard for months and breathing a lot of oxygen (although medical science is still not sure how these activities could effect the brain over the long term and this should not be tried without a professional or parent present). But Blaine is not the only one to hold his breath for a long period of time. In 2010 a new record of 19 minutes 21 seconds was set by Peter Colat. Article link here. There are also breath holding competitions where the competitors don't breath pure oxygen beforehand, unlike Blaine who breathed oxygen prior to holding his breath to help him last longer under the water. But even without long periods of pure oxygen these times go longer than 6 minutes and each year seems to provide a new record.
Cool huh! Needless to say, after discovering this, I had to change the length of time Caryn was able to hold her breath from 12 minutes to over 30 minutes just to push the boundries of what the human body could be capable of. However, I left Kai's time closer to these records just in case the average human in the future starts holding their breath longer too.
Fun Facts Behind the Scenes
During the writing process for The White Lilac, I went through three different endings. In the original verion Caryn died, but I soon realized that wasn't going to work. However, I didn't want to play things too safe so in the next version Kai died. This was the ending I worked toward for several years and it's one of the main reasons why Caryn's voice is in present tense and Kai's is in past tense. It was to be a subtle clue for what was to come. But in the process of ironing out some other plot issues, I decided he didn't need to die and the published ending was born.
In one of the earlier drafts, Caryn and the other girls are taken care of by a woman named Mother Nancy, a lovable round woman who was dating a security guard. There were several tearful goodbyes in her scenes and I ended up cutting her, but she makes a cameo appearance in the video Kai watches.
Jigger, the name for the fish, comes from the Uzbek language. It is their color for brown, or as I was told, literally means liver colored. Originally I was going to call the fish livers, but that looked too much like the word 'live' so I used the Uzbek word instead, although the spelling may be different.