Book Club Discussion Guide
by Emlyn Chand
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Publisher: Blue Crown Press
Prepared by Novel Publicity, LLC
About this Book
Alex Kosmitoras can’t wait to get away from his small-town life. But until he can
graduate high school and move to a bigger city, he’s forced to endure another year of
over-protective parents, endless bullying, boring classes, and worst of all, no friends. The
only bright side is that at least he only has three more years of high school left.
Alex’s first day of school starts off about as well as he could hope—until he starts
sensing things that aren’t there. His first “vision” manages to make a fool out of him in
front of the school bully. Just as he thinks he’s going to die from embarrassment, things
start looking up. He meets a new girl named Simmi who actually seems to like him. Their
friendship looks like it may be developing into something more when Alex has his most
terrifying vision yet: Simmi’s death.
As soon as it looks like Alex may lose his first friend, he is pushed into coming to terms
with the powers he’d much rather not have. The only person who seems to be able to help
him is Miss Teak, the psychic who just moved in next door. Alex is forced into a world
he knows very little about, but when friends appear who have gifts of their own, he
realizes that he doesn’t have to take on the universe alone.
As he journeys through this new world, Alex is faced with important decisions about
whom he can trust, how he must handle his powers, and what he wants his future to be.
Each “vision” he experiences tests his inner strength and shapes him into the person he is
destined to become. But is that person capable of evil as well as good? Alex’s fight to
change the future is one that will keep readers enthralled for the entirety of the book.
Despite it’s being Emlyn Chand’s first novel, Farsighted is layered in a way that is
reminiscent of much more experienced authors. It is obvious that a large amount of
research went into the execution of this novel. Chand weaves themes of culture, family, and friendship into her intricately crafted story, capturing readers’ attention from the get-go.
Alex’s story is one that will resonate with readers beyond the scope of its designated
audience thanks to its focus on the overall struggle of humanity. The ancient runes—
around which the novel is structured—offer a larger context to the journey Alex must
take. The references to the Greek hero Odysseus further ground Farsighted in the longstanding tradition of quests both against a force of evil and towards personal
understanding. From the beginning to the end of the journey, Farsighted is a novel that
will make readers laugh, shiver, and jump to the edge of their seats.
Interview with the Author
Q: Why did you choose to incorporate psychic powers into Farsighted?
A: Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses
reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband
drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really
struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so
weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the
time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet,
Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the
future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex
Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found
other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion
Q: What was the research process like for Farsighted?
A: I spent about three months trying to talk myself out of writing Farsighted. It’s too
ambitious, my inner critic pointed out. You’ll never get it done, not in the way it deserves
to be done, it pressed. Another part of me couldn’t resist; I knew I had to at least try
before giving up. I started by reading tons and tons of books—I read about world folklore
and superstitions, religions especially Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, psychic
powers, the occult, blindness, and even Nostradamus. I learned how to cast runes and
perform a ten-card Celtic Cross Tarot reading. I had nightmares for several weeks, but
then they eventually stopped, and I started writing.
Q: Which character do you identify with the most?
A: This is a really tough one for me to answer, because all the characters are so different
than I am. I definitely identify with Alex and his desire to be accepted but to also remain
independent. His battle between the two sides of himself is another thing I understand
very well. In high school, I was also that person on the periphery. I was always different,
which was both a challenge and a mark of pride. My favorite character would have to be Shapri; she’s kind of the person I wish I could
have been like back then. She’s strong, always true to herself, and won’t let anyone
disrespect her. Sure, she has fears, but we all do. Shapri is the kind of girl I would love to
be friends with. You know she’ll always go to bat for you when you’re too tired to step
up to the plate.
Q: Do you draw from any personal experiences for any of the incidents in the book?
A: Oh, gosh. The only thing I can think of is the multiculturalism. Grandon is based on
my hometown; it’s small and kind of boring. I couldn’t wait to escape and move on to
bigger and better things. My home town was mostly Caucasian, but somehow I ended up
with a very diverse set of friends, even though they made up less than one-percent of the
student body. Fast forward a few years, and I end up marrying a man from India. He’s
from New Delhi, like Simmi. I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures; I even
decided to pursue my master’s in Sociology for this very reason. I credit two early life
influences for this attraction: 1) My adoration of A. C. Slater in Saved by the Bell, 2)
Disney’s Aladdin being the best movie ever.
Q: What part do different cultures play in Farsighted?
A: A huge part. I don’t see why my characters all need to belong to the same culture or
ethnicity. What fun is that? Culture shapes our characters in a big way, so by diversifying
my cast, I was able to hit on more types of personalities and situations. Simmi, for
example, is very polite and reverent. Alex is shaped by his own way of looking at the
world, too—his blindness. This may not seem like a culture at first glance, but look
again. How different would your world be if you couldn’t see it? Another important thing
to remember is that Alex has always been blind; he’s always known the world to be a
certain way. Not everyone understands that, and they have trouble talking about it with
him. I gave Alex a tendency to overcompensate. He knows who he is and what he’s
capable of, and he wants the world to know it, too, so sometimes he overdoes things a bit.
Q: What motivated you to structure the book around the runes?
A: Remember how I said my masters is in Sociology? It’s actually Quantitative
Sociology. I’m a numbers person as well as a word person. I love things to be organized
just so. If you set a stack of papers in front of me; I’m going to fuss with them until they
are lined up in a perfect stack. It’s just the way I am. Shaping each chapter around a rune
gave the story order, which made me feel happy and comfortable. Whenever I got stuck
and didn’t know what should happen next, I was able to learn more about that chapter’s
rune and get the inspiration I needed to continue. The runes themselves tell a story, one
that is successfully completed. I felt that boded well for Farsighted.
Q: What do you hope readers will take from the book?
A: First and foremost, I hope that readers will enjoy themselves. My primary goal is to
tell an interesting story that people will find entertaining and be glad they read. Secondly,
I’d like to infuse contemporary Young Adult fiction with a bit more diversity and teach
readers about the beauty of other cultures and other ways of life. I also hope that
Farsighted is a book that leads to introspection—what would I do if put in Alex’s place?
Did Alex ever have a choice or was this path his destiny? What would it be like to see the
world the way he sees the world?
Q: Who or what were your greatest influences in writing Farsighted?
A: India is my eternal muse for this and everything I write. Farsighted in particular was
heavily influenced by the prophecies of Nostradamus (as you’ll see in the epigraph for
Part III). I also drew a good deal from Zoroastrianism and its core concept of dualism—
all light contains dark, and all dark contains light. Oh, and coffee. I was influenced by the
desire to go to the coffee shop and order a gigantic latte with extra chocolate sauce, all in
the name of writing.
Q: What can readers expect from the next books in the series?
A: Readers can expect to not know what to expect until the book releases. I’d like to
shroud the entire thing in mystery, which feels appropriate for this series. One thing I can
tell you is this: a character other than Alex will be narrating book two.
1. How does exposure to different cultures affect a person’s personal growth? What
lessons does Alex learn from his new friends that help him deal with his powers?
2. When is it necessary for a family to step back from a situation to allow the child to deal
with it on his own? Did Greg make the right decision in traveling to Boston? Should he
have stayed and helped Alex more, or did Alex need to learn to fend for himself?
3. The epigraph for part two reads, “If you can look into the seeds of time, / And say
which grain will grow, and which will not, / Speak.” Is it a person’s responsibility to
share crucial information with the world? Should Alex have told Simmi about the danger
she was in? Does he have a responsibility to inform those he loves about the insights
provided by his powers?
4. How does Alex’s journey compare to Odysseus’? What elements from Greek
mythology appear in Alex’s story?
5. To what extent should schools control fighting? Was Alex’s punishment for fighting
with Brady deserved? What about Shapri’s?
6. Everyone has their own personal gifts, even if they’re not the psychic kind. What are
some similarities between how we must come to terms with our individual talents and
how Alex learns to accept his powers?
7. How can the way disabilities are viewed be changed for the better? Is it accurate for
Alex to be classified as a “special needs” student? What are some ways in which the
school and students discriminate against Alex?
8. Is evil a natural tendency of human nature? Does Alex have the same potential to do
evil as Dax? Is Dax truly evil or merely misguided?
9. How does the story told by the runes apply to an ordinary life? Is Alex unusual in his
journey, or does every person embark on a quest to discover him or herself?
10. Miss Teak says that some prophecies occur no matter what, but some can be
prevented. Is this true of life? Do we have free will in our decisions, or does fate or some
other higher power determine the direction our lives are headed?
11. What elements are necessary to move from fear to acceptance? How does Shapri
come to terms with her powers after denying them for so long?
12. How legitimate are teen relationships? Do Alex and Simmi really care for each other,
or is their relationship based mainly on teenage hormones? Do Simmi’s powers play a
role in Alex’s feelings for her?
13. What role does Miss Teak play as a character? Does her lack of powers complement
the powers of the others, or does it detract from her importance?
14. How do Alex’s visions differ from visions a seeing person would have? Would they
be more difficult to discern because of the lack of one sense? Would they be more
sensitive than one with primarily vision?
15. What role does assumption play in the story? What do you assume about Alex’s
mom? His dad? Dax? Miss Teak? How are these assumptions proven wrong?
16. How does Alex’s world represent a specific culture? How are readers immersed into
his world? Which aspects of his viewpoint do you take for granted, and which ones
continue to surprise you?
17. The epigraph for part three is from the prophecies of Nostradamus. It reads, “One day
the two great masters will be friends / Their great power will be seen increased / The new
land will be at its high peak / To the bloody one the number recounted.” What do you
think this means in the context of the larger story? How does it tie into the conclusion of
the novel? What does it hint at for future books in the series?