Julian R. Vaca has been a creative writer for over a decade. He’s a staff writer on PBS’s Reconnecting Roots, a nationally broadcast show that drew in millions of viewers over its first two seasons. He’s also the co-writer of Pencil Test, a feature-length documentary that’s being executive produced by Disney animation legend Tom Bancroft. Julian lives in Nashville with his family.

In this interview, Julian talks about the second book in his The Memory Index Series, titled The Recall Paradox.

FF: What inspired the story in your book?
I absolutely love questions surrounding identity and memories. In a lot of ways, The Memory Index series was an exercise in self-reflection. Freya and Fletcher (the main characters in the series) ask questions that I’ve been asking for years, such as: What’s more unsettling—losing your memories, or confronting the difficult ones? From there, the story really began to take shape. But I think I first needed to understand some underlying, thematic questions to lay the foundation for the narrative.

FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
So, while Freya and Fletcher are technically the main characters (the story’s told from their dual POV), The Recall Paradox centers on a quartet of friends! They have an unbreakable bond with unique personalities, strengths, and vulnerabilities. They challenge one another and carry each other’s burdens like best friends ought to. I wish I could hang out with them!

FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Definitely Rusty Mendelsohn, Foxtail Academy’s shadowy dean. You never quite know if he’s good, bad, or even neutral until the climax of The Recall Paradox. I’d always intended to have his arc play out the way it does in the book, but he certainly surprised me with a few choices that I didn’t really plan! That often happens in writing, and it’s so rewarding.

FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
In this series, a side character describes the importance of oral memory sharing as a powerful tool. I think we all crave and desire story, and we should never underestimate its power. Whether we realize it or not, we’re all storytellers in unique ways, and that comes with varying degrees of responsibility.

FF: What can readers expect from the rest of this series?
A lot of surprises, but a lot of answers too. The Memory Index ended on a massive cliffhanger, and I promise every question gets answered! Writers always endeavor to give their audiences what they want in unexpected ways, and that was definitely my aim with The Recall Paradox.

FF: How do you get into the right frame of mind to write for your genre/audience?
I’m always telling folks that writers are readers first. I think to write good sci-fi, you have to also be consuming good sci-fi! It might sound like a no-brainer, but I really had to lose myself in some excellent books to crack needed inspiration for mine.

FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
I’d love for my readers to leave feeling inspired—specifically to be more reflective and intentional with introspection. We move at the speed of sound these days, and quiet moments of contemplation are few and far between. We owe it to ourselves—and others—to slow down and reflect more…

FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
There’s no such thing as a book for everyone. I think the challenge (daily) is to remind myself that my writing isn’t going to inspire everyone, but that’s actually more than okay—that’s great! If I can shake off the misplaced expectation to write perfectly and just tell a fun and engaging story, the possibilities are truly endless.

FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
Skyward by Brandon Sanders, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and of course The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold to name a handful.

FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
So, I tell folks that I’m a Christian who happens to write fiction—I’m not a writer of Christian fiction. That said, it’s impossible not to have personal convictions and perspectives incorporated into the narrative. But it cannot feel forced or heavy-handed; it must service the story in an organic way. C.S. Lewis did this brilliantly with his fiction, and he’s definitely a north star for me in that sense.

The Recall Paradox
The Memory Index Series #2
Julian R. Vaca
Thomas Nelson
Genres: YA/Teen, Sci-Fiction, Dystopian Suspense
Release Date: April 11, 2023

ISBN-10: ‎ 0840701152
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0840701152

Book Summary:
What if everything you remember is a lie?

Freya Izquierdo and Fletcher Cohen believe they’re done with top-secret memory knifing. After successfully hacking a terrorist’s memories and foiling the Memory Ghosts’ next attack, they spend their school break intending to clear Fletcher’s dad of being accused of colluding with the radical group.

Exposing the truth should be straightforward, if not easy. But Fletcher’s house is robbed, and Freya makes a shocking discovery about her flawed recall. When they return to Foxtail Academy, no one but the dean and Dr. Sanders seems to remember Freya, Fletcher, and their friends Chase and Ollie. Then the Memory Ghosts make contact, and everything the four students thought was true proves false.

As they struggle to shine light on the shadowy battlefield between Memory Frontier and the Memory Ghosts, their only option is to undertake the most difficult and risky knifing mission of their lives. But this time, more than their lives are at stake.

In this heart-stopping and gripping conclusion to the critically acclaimed Memory Index duology, the only way out is in, and the only way to safety is through reckless danger that could wipe Freya and Fletcher from everyone’s minds…forever.


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About The Author

Julian R. Vaca has been a creative writer for over a decade. He's a staff writer on PBS's Reconnecting Roots, a nationally broadcast show that drew in millions of viewers over its first two seasons. He's also the co-writer of Pencil Test, a feature-length documentary that's being executive produced by Disney animation legend Tom Bancroft (Earnest Films, 2023). Julian lives in Nashville with his family.