We’re chuffed to bits to have author Jordan Castillo Price dropping by today to celebrate the recent release of Agent Bayne, the ninth book in the PsyCop series. She’s joining us today to chat a bit about the world building in this alt-contemporary Chicago para-verse, and be sure to pay attention to the details—book one in the series, Among the Living, is FREE for a limited time!
Talents and Levels ~ Worldbuilding in PsyCop
Once upon a time if you told doctors you heard voices,
they’d diagnose you as schizophrenic, put you on heavy drugs,
and lock you away in a cozy state institution
to keep you from hurting yourself or others.
Nowadays they test you first to see if you’re psychic.
That’s the start of the PsyCop series. A lot of worldbuilding is happening in those two sentences! It turned out to be a pretty good premise: psychic abilities exist, and you can be tested for them. Victor Bayne, our protagonist, is a psychic medium. He sees dead people. But there are other abilities as well.
In PsyCop, there are six talents on the records, and seven levels of ability possible in each talent.
Mediumship: communicate with the dead
Empathy: pick up on others’ feelings
Telepathy: pick up on others’ thoughts
Clairvoyance: see across a distance
Precognition: glimpse the future
Telekinesis: move things with your mind
Initially, I had a chart of how each level would manifest in each talent. This was so many years ago, the computer is long gone and I couldn’t even tell you what program I did it in. Eventually, I realized it didn’t exactly matter (except in one particular way, which I’ll go into in a second.)
Psychic ability is a lot like playing the piano. One person might sight-read music flawlessly. Someone else can hear a song once and play it back by ear. Someone else writes gorgeous songs with great hooks. They’re all playing the piano, and they all have ability. But how do you ascribe a simple numeric value to each one? You could try, but the information isn’t very descriptive.
I’ve made a big deal out of Victor Bayne’s mediumship level simply because he’s been hiding it all these years. Initially, when he figured out he was actually seeing dead people and wasn’t just schizophrenic, being a medium was great—it was his ticket out of a mental institution. Unfortunately, soon after he transferred to a psychic training facility, a dead medium warned him that if he was too powerful, he’d run the risk of being permanently silenced so as not to fall into the wrong hands. Thus began his M.O. of minimizing, avoidance and subterfuge.
In the series, there is a numeric system in place. A level 1 has a talent that’s faint and unreliable. Most psychics are level 2. Their talents work, but in a limited way, and are harder to control when they’re tired and stressed. Level 3’s and 4’s are pretty serious. Normal folks are creeped out by them. Level 5’s are rare, 6’s are staggering, and 7’s are a godlike pinnacle of the talent. Vic starts out the series as a known level 5…and that’s with him omitting half the stuff he can actually do.
A theme I often visit in my work is that bureaucracy is big, ponderous, and typically dead wrong. (Here’s where the numeric assessment I mentioned earlier comes in.) The government agencies who set up the six-talent, seven-level system are crippled by their bureaucracy. Throughout the series, Vic finds out that some level 2’s are practically omniscient, and talents exist that don’t fit any of the currently known categories. He also discovers a key element to the PsyCop program was lost to a crappy photocopy!
In the most recent PsyCop installment, Agent Bayne, Vic is paired up with someone who trained with him years ago. Unlike Vic, she did her best to prove her talent, but ended up ramming into a glass ceiling. She’d been categorized as a moderately talented level 4, but it turns out she can give Vic a run for his money. And together, they can venture into some scary post-life territory.
Intrigued? The series is sequential and I recommend you start with book 1, Among the Living. Grab it free for a limited time!
About Among the Living: PsyCop, Book One
Victor Bayne, the psychic half a PsyCop team, is a gay medium who’s more concerned with flying under the radar than in making waves.
He hooks up with handsome Jacob Marks, a non-psychic (or “Stiff”) from an adjacent precinct at his ex-partner’s retirement party and it seems like his dubious luck has taken a turn for the better. But then a serial killer surfaces who can change his appearance to match any witness’ idea of the world’s hottest guy.
Solving murders is a snap when you can ask the victims whodunit, but this killer’s not leaving any spirits behind.
Novella: 29,000 words. Contains explicit erotica.
About Agent Bayne
Victor Bayne is through with the Chicago PD. Can he handle the FPMP?
After years of frustration as a PsyCop, Victor Bayne reports for duty at the Federal Psychic Monitoring Program. As a fledgeling agent, he’s ready to smoke out a few ghosts and be home each night in time for dinner. But is he prepared to add a professional dimension to his romantic partnership with Jacob Marks?
Jacob has already established his territory in the Program—he’s competent, he’s respected, and he’s pretty much fearless. The last thing Vic wants to do is screw up in front of him.
When fellow agents start turning up dead, Vic is expected to do more than just lay their ghosts to rest. But what if his psychic talent isn’t quite enough? As the death toll rises, he and Jacob scramble to determine who’s in danger, and who’s a killer.
Using all the resources at their disposal, they close in on their suspect. But as they do, their past comes back to haunt them…and even Jacob worries they’ve tampered with forces they should have left alone. Are their combined talents enough to protect them from enemies both living and dead?
About PsyCop Briefs
Victor Bayne sees dead people for a living…and he sees them off the clock, too. After all, ghosts don’t confine their appearances to a psychic medium’s work hours.
From the macabre to the mundane, from titillating to tender, these PsyCop shorts feature stolen moments between the novels. Get a glimpse of Vic’s life with Jacob between cases, from both men’s viewpoints. Gain new insight on their psychic talents by accompanying them on odd jobs, shopping runs and family visits, or simply enjoy some downtime in the cannery.
The twenty short works range in length from flash fiction to novelettes, woven together to create a novel-length narrative of Vic and Jacob’s relationship from a fresh perspective. The stories are gleaned from various sources: anthologies, newsletters, and web, with four all-new pieces to tie the collection together and delve deeper into your favorite PsyCops’ domestic life.
Coffee O’Clock || Thaw || Mind Reader || Stroke of Midnight || No Sale || Most Likely To… || Jock Straps On Sale || Piece of Cake || In the Dark || Let the Chips Fall || Memento || Impact || Everyone’s Afraid of Clowns || Waiting Game || On the Road || Wood || Off the Cuff || Locked and Loaded || Inside Out || Witness
About the Author
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” girls with tattoos and boys in eyeliner.
Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.
Find out more at jordancastilloprice.com