Today, Jenn and I are happy to be a part of Christian Schoon's blog tour for his debut novel, Zenn Scarlett! You can find the entire schedule here on Christian's website. He joins us now with a guest post explaining why he chose to write science-fiction!
Why SF instead of something else?
I blame Rusty’s Space Ship and The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek, both by Evelyn Lampman, both classics in my eyes and both richly deserving of enshrinement, complete with with funky little alters and special saintly-SF-author-candles burning on the bedside tables of every kid ever. (OK, some kids probably shouldn’t have candles burning by their bedsides; go ahead and do the alter, just don’t light candles.)
As these early grade school titles hint, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t more or less spellbound by science fiction and fantasy books, as well as early SF on TV, followed up by the whole Star Wars/Star Trek/Alien/Terminator/etc etc parade of sweet skiffy goodness. (I use the full range science fiction acronyms and descriptors with interchangeable abandon. It usually starts a really diverting conversation. Dive in!)
So, from an age before I’d even discovered girls (Yikes! Girls!) I was all wired-up to search out and fall head-over-imagination into the entire all-new, freshly conjured, starry, dragony, alienesque richness that SF had to offer. And pretty soon, say junior high, I started to notice something about what authors like Asimov and Clarke and Heinlein and Herbert and other Golden Age types were doing with their stories. These writers were writing stuff about other worlds and races and cultures… but, hold on just a dang minute… they’re actually saying stuff about my world and its races and cultures. Those sneaks! Yes. Sure enough. That’s what they were up to. Well, now I realized that I could read the mind-blowing books I was so obsessed with and also feel all “look ma, I’m learnin’ me ‘bout socially rel’vent issues!” at the same time. Double bonus.
So, it should come as no real surprise that, when my freelance career in Los Angeles began to pick up speed, I found myself writing and selling TV scripts for genre shows like Saban’s Power Rangers franchise, Warner Bros. animated Batman, Hallmark’s fairy tale re-makes and Hanna-Barbera’s Gravedale High. All SF or fantasy programming. And, when I wanted to try my hand at writing novels, the story of Zenn Scarlett’s novice year as an exoveterinarian trainee on a dystopian Mars just grew out of all the SFery I’d encountered up to that point.
But, just between you and me, I never really read SF for the articles. I was there for the centerfold of exotic off-worldness in all its preconception-obliterating splendor. In addition to the afore-mentioned fondness for the fictional freedom of science fiction, I’ve also been a science devotee since early on. The fact of any living thing’s biology, for instance, is borderline magic to me. If you stop and really think about what your body and brain are doing right this second? I mean, really consider everything that’s happening as you register the words on the screen in front of you and then the light reflection, rod-and-cone retinal reaction, signal differentiation, color and pattern recognition, neuron-zapping, brain-region-illuminating, consciousness poked-into-paying-attention and … yeah. Mind. Blown. Or it sure as frak oughta be blown. So, yes, simple biology of the simplest organism I can imagine: mind utterly boggled.
Science. And fiction. And that’s pretty much it for someone like me. Could I enjoy writing, say, contemporary suburban relationship fiction? Well, possibly. But, also between you and me, I’m no Updike and I probably wouldn’t do a very good job of it and I’m just happier frolicking among the slightly ominous-looking flower-pod-fields of some alien swamp and refracting my current social concerns through the lens of an off-world society that resonates with our own, but looks wicked-different and thinks in ways that might make a reader think: “Hey, hold on just dang minute….” Yeah, we’re sneaks, we authors.
And I owe it all to a boy named Rusty, a lizard-critter named Tiphia and a wooden space ship. Oh, and a socially awkward stegosaurus named George. Thank you, Evelyn Sibley Lampman, where ever you are.
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
When you're studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school... is a different kind of animal.
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...
What did you think of Christian's guest post? Think you'll read Zenn Scarlett? Emily just finished the book and found it to be a fascinating debut! Her review will be up within the next couple of days. So please come back and check that out!