Publisher- Strange Chemistry
Received from Publisher for Review
Paperback 304 pages
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Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she's learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she's feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn't enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she's started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can't deny what she's feeling.
Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what's happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she's actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients... or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year....
I have the great pleasure of participating in the Blog Tour for Christian Schoon's debut novel Zenn Scarlett, another great novel coming from the Strange Chemistry "lab"! I got to interview Christian for the tour and he put up with my questions so I hope you enjoy them. If you'd like to follow the tour, you can go to his home page HERE. There is a giveaway of the novel to a US winner. My review will be up tomorrow. I'll say this, it's action packed, filled with extremely unusual animals and a gut clenching ending. And yes, there is a romance, no insta love, thank you Christian!! So that means I highly recommend it! Here's the interview, hope you enjoy it!
Christian Schoon Interview-
1). So, making up a new world, names of places, animals, foods, humanoid beings, jobs, politics how hard is that?
Conjuring up entire environments, cultures and biospheres and then populating them is a big part of what draws me to science fiction writing. I’ve been blown away by the imaginations of other writers so often, and have appreciated their efforts so deeply in this regard, that it really is both a privilege and a pleasure to feel like I’m doing the same sort of favor for readers, at least to the extent of my abilities. I’ll admit up front that for me writing is always work, I mean it doesn’t cascade from my fingertips like wizard-lightning, but the act of spinning Zenn’s world into existence was one of the more enjoyable stretches of “work” I’ve ever labored away at. For me, the hardest thing of all is plotting and making all those narrative links and sub-connections and backstory threads and routing them all to a coherent and satisfying conclusion. That’s because in Zenn Scarlett’s case, I approached the novel as a true seat-of-the-pants writer, I had no outline and literally made it up as I went, not looking too far ahead and just following my characters into the mist. Possibly the easiest and most fun part of the whole process was coming up with character names, star systems, races and animal species and their traits, as well as novel medical procedures, equipment and medicines. My work volunteering with exotic animal rescue groups and meeting the vets who had specialized skills in this area was also a big assist when it came to weaving a credible reality for Zenn as a novice exovet trainee. So, the writing was hard in spots, but always an enjoyable ride!
2). Zenn loses her mom at an early age in an accident as an exoveterinarian. Why didn't that scare her away from being an exovet?
For years before her mother’s death during the in-soma insertion procedure on the Lithohippus indra, Zenn had been immersed in Dr. Mai Scarlett’s world, a place where healing alien animals was a daily occurrence. It was a familiar, familial situation where all life forms received respect and humane treatment. And every day of her life, Zenn saw the immediate, concrete results of the vet work that Mai Scarlett did as she nurtured her patients, bringing them from illness or injury to health. While Zenn was too young to intellectually comprehend a lot of what she encountered at the cloister during this time, her mother’s commitment to her animals’ welfare was something she clearly understood. Zenn could sense the effect that her mother’s work had on these creatures. She understood perfectly well that her mother was a force for compassion and decency. She also understood that her father Warra loved her mother for precisely these traits of empathy, as well as her competency and skill. Then there was the simple abundance of fascinating alien life surrounding Zenn as a child. Taught by her mother not to fear these animals, but to appreciate their spectacular variety and evolutionary uniqueness, Zenn could hardly be anything other than an “animal person” as she matured. Add to all of this the fact that Zenn grew up more or less isolated as the sole child in the cloister compound, and so had few if any other equally influential role models to emulate, and you have a young girl who is naturally imbued with a determination to follow in the career footsteps of the remarkable woman whom both she and her father loved and respected so profoundly.
3) If Zenn could change anything about her life on Mars, what would it be?
Other than having her mother back in her life, I think Zenn would be eager to change the alien-hating attitudes of the majority of Martian colonists living in Arsia and the other settled canyon systems on Mars. Since Earthers and Mars colonists as a whole tended to blame alien creatures for somehow unleashing the deadly Orinoco virus that so decimated the Earth’s population, it’s not surprising they dislike aliens so much. But, on the other hand, since the true origin of the virus was never determined, this xenophobia is unjustified - a fact that the extremists of the New Law faction are willing to ignore in order to further their own plans to “cleanse” the solar system of all alien life forms. Of more immediate concern to Zenn, of course, is that the anti-alien sentiments of the nearby town of Arsia City could result in her Ciscan Cloister Exovet training school being shut down. The fate of the clinic’s animals, should this happen, would not be pleasant.
4) What would Zenn think of our zoos here on Earth?
I think Zenn would consider the best of Earth’s zoos as a sort of necessary last-ditch effort to protect and preserve some of the planet’s most endangered animals, as well as institutions with a mission to educate humans about wildlife in general. Of course, she’d rather that zoos weren’t necessary at all, and that people could understand and appreciate the importance and sheer wonder of animals and their habitats without the need to confine the animals.
5) How well do you think you'd adapt to living at the Ciscan Cloister on Mars working with Hamish (*shudders*)?
I find the eight-foot-tall insectoid coleopt Hamish an amiable and intriguing sort of fellow. Really, I think it would be big fun to hang out and share a beer with an over-grown beetle who’s bright, eager to learn new things, honest to a fault and who has a really interesting outlook on humans and our culture.
6) Zenn has an unusual ability in Zenn Scarlett, a kind of supernatural talent. If you had a special talent, supernatural, what would it be?
What special talent I’d want to have tends to change from day to day…. Let’s see, today I feel like a cool super power would be the ability to look into people’s minds and be able to tell them what they truly want out of life. You know, sometimes people flail around, make iffy choices, or sub-optimal decisions because they don’t really, deep down, know what they want. What if I could look at ‘em and say “Ah! Your Brass Ring in life is:…..” Think of all the time it might save!
7.) Space shuttles to the planet Mars are ready for boarding and they are looking for volunteers to colonize Mars are you in or out?
I’d be reeeeeally interested, but would have a few questions first. Like: is this one-way or is there a round-trip option if all the other colonists get on my nerves? And, when we touch down on the Red Planet, will we be herded into tiny, cramped domes with poorly scrubbed, re-circulated air, little elbow room, and no privacy, all surrounded by an environment that would suck the life out of us if we went outside without a bulky pressure suit? Or, like Zenn, will we inhabit wide open, sprawling canyon systems that have been ingeniously roofed over with protective, translucent barriers of ionized particles that hold the oxygen in, keep the freezing Martian atmosphere out, and let the sunlight in so we can grow crops on the canyon floor, have animals, and feel like we’re living in a real world and not in an inflatable garage? So, basically, I’m saying that if they’re sending people to Mars and all they have to offer is our current level of habitat tech, I’ll be staying home with my critters and chillin’ here on the farm. If other people would be willing to put up with the above conditions, I’ll cheer ‘em on!
A Little More about Christian Schoon-
Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses. He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals.
Author Links-Website/ Goodreads/ Twitter-@cjschoon
And for the Giveaway- US only.