Please welcome special guest Christian Schoon to the virtual offices today. Christian is here to chat about his debut release Zenn Scarlett, which features a exoveterinarian. How cool is that?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Christian Schoon ] Life-long SF-geek, believe life/biology in general are just too mind-blowing, can’t wait for 1st inhabited planet to be discovered.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Zenn Scarlett?
[Christian Schoon ] Zenn Scarlett is a 17-year-old girl in her novice year of exoveterinarian training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic in the deep end of the Valles Marinaris canyon system on Mars. So, she’s specializing the care and treatment of very large, often dangerous, profoundly fascinating alien creatures brought to the cloister from the dozen planets of the Local Systems Accord. She’s usually an over-achiever in her classes. But lately there’s: her father, off on distant Enchara, not communicating and it’s worrying her; Liam Tucker, tall, sorta hottish towner boy who is, strangely, very interested in spending time at the cloister lately which is combo annoying/intriguing; her end of term tests, which she’s pretty sure she’ll pass without too much trouble (there might be trouble); and, finally, the possibility that she’s started to experience a sort of mental “sharing” with some of the animals at the clinic. The problem is, she doesn’t believe in ESP. She’s a scientist. There must be some other logical, real-world explanation. Because if there isn’t, she’s going just a little mad….
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Christian Schoon ] Because of my work with animal welfare groups, and due to living on a farm with lots of room for animals, I’ve had considerable interaction with veterinarians in the past few years. Their skill and dedication to helping their patients made a vet heroine a pretty natural concept for me. Her uncle Otha and Hild also came about naturally as instructors at the cloister exovet school. Liam Tucker evolved as sort of bridge character between the cloister and the alien-hating citizens of the nearby town of Arisa; he then evolved into an on-again-off-again romantic interest who causes Zenn a fair amount of trouble… Hamish, the coleopt (an eight-foot-tall beetle) who works as the cloister handyman (handybug?) came about because I wanted Zenn to have a sounding board who was from a totally different culture; that means he can ask lots of questions about stuff I want to clue the reader into.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Zenn?
[Christian Schoon ] Compassionate, indomitable, intelligent.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Zenn had a theme song, what would it be?
[Christian Schoon] Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Zenn is never without.
[Christian Schoon] Mercy
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Zenn’s pockets?
[Christian Schoon] A crunchy dried-grasshopper treat for her pet rikkaset, Katie.
A rolled-up v-film listing all her class assignments, homework, cloister chores and patient meds roster for the week.
A dog-eared old-fashioned-printed-on-paper photograph of her mother, Dr. Mai Scarlett, lost in an accident during in-soma pod insertion on a colossal Lithohippus indra years ago. Well, everyone thinks it was an accident…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Zenn’s greatest regret?
[Christian Schoon ] Not having her mother around to talk to.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Christian Schoon ] My mom was an English teacher, so was my older sister, and they both encouraged me to love books and to indulge my imagination. I also had many great teachers who encouraged me in similar ways. I also have a very supportive and patient wife, who shares my love of animals, which is a good thing, since they basically rule our lives here on the Schoon ranch….
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Christian Schoon ] Minimal distractions
A nice hot cuppa.
At least one cat to bother me by lying on the keyboard, jumping on & off my lap, chasing my pencils off the desk, etc.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Christian Schoon ] *checks his socks* I was seriously impressed with The Greenlanders, by Jane Smiley; it’s been out for a while, but it’s just so beautiful and bleak.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Christian Schoon ] Well, this is tough. I guess I’d say Beautiful Joe: A Dog’s Own Story by Marshall Saunders. Very early on, I was hooked by books told from an animal’s perspective, not anthropomorphic Disney-movie-cute (tho I did love Disney’s animal movies, of course), but stories that really attempted to give a sense of an animal’s inner world, including the brutal, harsh and real, as well as the joyful and exuberant. I never really recovered from seeing things from that POV.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Christian Schoon ] I like good, down-and-dirty authentic old school blues music, played live, either solo or full-on electric, in a setting where people can cut loose and they serve something besides Bud. Also really like it when my wife Kat and I have time to unwind and just hang out with all our animals.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Christian Schoon ] Pre-Order Zenn Scarlett at Amazon
Find Christian at:
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can purchase Zenn Scarlett from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:
About the book:
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….
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. 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, interacting with animals ranging from black bears and cougars to Burmese pythons, alligators, caimans, emus and other critters.