Note this is the project description from the successful Kickstarter project which was funded in June 2014. A lot has happened since then!
I am grateful to all the Kickstarter supporters, but in particular to the Alpha backers, who are listed here as well as in the front pages of the book:
Peter Milford, Sean Di Lizio, David Roebuck, Jasmin Craufurd-Hill, Michael Brand, Katherine Leben, Julie McKay, Andrew Allwood and Kelly Suvorovs
The aim of this project is to create a story that does for maths what The Da Vinci Code did for religious history conspiracies, what Harry Potter did for wizardry, and what Twilight did for vampires. Most of the millions of readers who picked up The Da Vinci code had no specific interest in learning about religious history. Instead, they wanted, and got, a thrilling and captivating detective story. That some of them, along the way, were exposed to a lot of (sometimes dubious) history, was incidental.
Readers of the world’s first exciting math novel will be drawn into a thrilling and captivating story replete with violence, betrayals, high drama and sacrifice. This book is one that will sit comfortably among the mass market paperback thrillers you see in airports and bookstores, by authors like Anthony Horowitz, Matthew Reilley, and Dan Brown.
But, rather than just containing escapism, readers of the novel, especially young adults, will also be exposed to the most important mathematical concepts required for a person to be a responsible and critically thinking member of society. The book is stealthily filled with illuminating examples of mathematical concepts that people need on a daily basis like statistical significance and probability.
The stuff one needs to see through the deception spun by politicians, con artists and advertising every day. The basic concepts required to make sound financial decisions, and to understand and manage risk appropriately. To know that even if you have a small advantage over the casino, there is still a good chance that you will eventually go bankrupt.
Real-life Numeracy Illustrated in UNREAL Situations
Unlike most maths fiction or indeed attempts to relate maths concepts to “real world” situations, these concepts aren’t illustrated in “normal’ everyday situations. Instead, they come into play in the most outrageous, extreme situations you can imagine:
- Base jumping to escape a nuclear explosion
- Jumping twenty stories to escape rampaging terrorists
- Decoding a cipher to discover a plot to kill thousands of people
There are dozens more but I won’t mention them here… I don’t want to spoil the story for you!
What Your Support Means
By supporting this project, you will be personally involved in introducing a completely novel and innovative approach to improving society’s mathematical literacy.
Together, we can introduce a new paradigm in education – meaningful but stealthy exposure to vitally important mathematical concepts through a process that billions of people around the world already do everyday without a thought – reading a story.
This is the first book – but we can take it further than that. There’s a whole series, planned and ready to be finished.
When Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code, the book spawned an entire industry of imitators, many successful in their own right. Together we can inspire other writers to take up the cause.
When J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter, her stories led to the highest grossing movie series of all time. We can turn this book into a blockbuster movie and watch as viewers are exposed in new ways to mathematical concepts through epic stories and action on the big screen.
Together we can do all of this.
Your support will make the first step in this process a reality – the production and distribution of the maths thriller “A Question of Will”.
What’s the Story?
Schoolboy one moment, accused terrorist the next. When his mysterious uncle is murdered, 16-year-old Will Graham is dragged into the machinations of a deranged mastermind bent on slaughter at an unfathomable scale. Hunted by authorities and killers alike, Will’s only hope is to find out why someone was so desperate to have his uncle dead, if he is to save himself, his friends and the city he calls home.
To do so, Will must draw on every scrap of intelligence he has to stay alive and out of the clutches of the police and the gunsights of the fanatic’s army of devotee killers. With the help of old friends and unexpected allies, Will believes he can work out where the madman will strike. But, massively outgunned and with the police closing in, will his chase to save his city end up dooming them all?
Read the First Two Chapters
You can download the first two chapters by clicking here (PDF format):
The first novel manuscript has been completed and has gone through two rounds of revisions with the assistance of two professional editors.
The first draft came in at 128,000 words and had about 50 – 60 mathematical concepts in it. The second and third drafts went on a diet and tightened to around 60,000 words and 20 mathematical concepts – all this means is that there are many more maths concepts to be done in the sequels!
Frequently Asked Questions
What age group are you targeting?
The book is primarily aimed at older young adults and adults – ages 14 and above. The novel follows the “rules” for young adult novels in terms of violence, morals and ethics.
But doesn’t maths need to be relevant to everyday situations?
The math throughout this book is very relevant to everyday situations – statistics, probability, risk. How these concepts are conveyed – in extreme action and thrilling plots – is extremely unrealistic – but that’s the point.
Who Am I
I wrote my first educational textbook “Not a C Minus” in 2000, when I was 18 years old and in university. I’d been tutoring high school maths students and decided to put down all the explanations that seemed to work in a book, which I wrote the bulk of in a week. I paid to print 40 copies out of my own pocket and my local bookstore was kind enough to put them on their shelves. It was Christmas time and my parents thought I was crazy.
The 40 copies sold out and I had to get 100 more printed. They sold out, and the media started to pick up on the story. The 100 sold out, then 200, 300, 500, 1000…
I received hundreds of unsolicited messages from students, parents and teachers about the books:
“I have been struggling in maths all my life as I missed out on the basics in primary school as a result of changing schools. I would like to take this time just too sincerely thankyou for going out of your way to produce something (Complete School) that has and will help people, like myself, who have been struggling. You have given me new found energy to wake up in the morning and go to school and maths in particular. Thankyou.”
“The book was great reading, I loved how it all sounded so simple. It helped me a lot…I also purchased your physics book and it is also fantastic…”
I ended up writing two more textbooks: a Physics textbook and a Maths and English textbook package for all of high school. The books received media coverage on Today Tonight, in the Australian Newspaper and in a range of print and online media:
In total they’ve sold about 6000 physical and online copies around the world in places including Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, India, South Africa, Norway, Canada, the USA and Australia.
Writing and producing the books from initial concept to final bookstore and online distribution gave me extensive experience in how (and how not) to successfully write, edit, produce and publicise an educational book. I bring that experience to this project.
My Day Job
My day-job is in academia, where I’m a Senior Lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology (click on the link to read more). I’ve had more than a decade of experience writing in an academic context at the very top international level. I teach students who often have little mathematical background how to excel at complex topics like Robotics. Although my passion for education is shared across both my academic career and Kickstarter project, the Kickstarter project is completely separate of and independent of my university job.