Saturday, April 20, 2013

Zenn Scarlett Blog Tour! (Featuring author Christian Schoon)

I feel like Watercolor Moods' cup runneth over recently in terms of quality blog posts and interviews from some amazing authors! But I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, so talented writers - keep on coming! 

Today, thanks to Strange Chemistry's wonderful Amanda Rutter, the Zenn Scarlett blog tour is stopping in. In case you haven't heard about this awesome sci-fi, here's a quick rundown:

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....

Pretty cool, no? And just take a gander at the authors who have already read and loved it: Phoebe North. E.C. Myers.

Guys. Temple Grandin.

'Nuff said.

In any case, I'm going to step away from the mic and let Christian Schoon introduce his masterpiece to you guys. I hope you enjoy his awesome guest post, and look out for a review for Zenn Scarlett coming soon!

Dystopi-para-romanta-medico-science-fictional? What is this book-thing, Zenn Scarlett?
I’m Christian Schoon, your visiting author. Zenn Scarlett is my debut novel. Strange Chemistry Books was kind enough to want to publish it, and it’ll be shelved with the sci fi titles at your local Barnes & Nobel and on Amazon in early May. And it’s SF, all right. But it’s got some identity issues.
So, what sorta SF is Zenn?
It’s got a young girl in her novice year of learning to be an exovet who specializes in big, potentially deadly off-world animals. Pretty straight-ahead skiffy sounding to me. But, lately she’s been experiencing strange mental “links” with some of her alien patients. So… is this ESP? Is this paranormal SF? Now, Zenn doesn’t believe in fringy stuff like extra-sensory perception. She’s way too scientific method for that. But if it’s not ESP, what the…?
How about the romance. That’s gotta be cut and dried, right? No. Liam Tucker is a reasonably good looking, reasonably pleasant-if-cocky towner boy from nearby Arsia City. But towners, in general, are deeply suspicious of the Ciscan Exovet Cloister and their “unclean” alien animal menagerie. Liam seems interested in Zenn. And this, Zenn finds both odd and annoying. Odd because towners, as noted, are xenophobes and tend to avoid the cloister. Annoying because she’s in the midst of end of term tests and can’t afford to deal with the new friendship Liam seems to be offering. She doesn't seem to be in the market for romance. 
Then we have the creatures Zenn interacts with. She climbs onto the snout of an 80-foot marine predator to administer a therapeutic eye-wash. No problem. She gives vaccinations to buffalo-sized Procyoni yotes with bone-crushing jaws that could snap her in half. Easy. She goes inside a 200-foot-long swamp sloo as part of her end of term tests, and her response is... excitement (this is accomplished using a small, personal vehicle called an in-soma pod, but still. She goes INSIDE this animal). So, are we now in fantasy land? How is the reader to believe Zenn can do what she does? No human is this fearless. Well, Zenn grew up at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic where all these animals are housed. They’re not aliens to her. They’re everyday acquaintances. She knows their behaviors, what they’re capable of, how to stay safe in their presence. And her mother and uncle are both exovet masters. She’s followed them on their rounds every day since she was out of diapers. So, now we’re into a credible hybrid of SF/medical. Or, SF/veterinary, at any rate.
Maybe the book is space opera. It’s got some starliners, after all. Off stage primarily in this first book of the series, but doesn’t that qualify as full-on space opera? Hmm. The starships are powered by ginormous vacuum-dwelling creatures called indra. So maybe it’s science fantasy. But the indra have a clearly delineated backstory explaining their billions of years of evolution and how they developed the ability to assimilate dark matter in order metabolize a substance that allows them to penetrate the membrane of the space-time continuum… so now we’re back in space operatic form again.
And on top of all this: Zenn’s cloister sprawls out across a deep canyon on Mars; where the centuries-old Earth colonies are on the verge of total social collapse due to a decades-long trade embargo with Earth. People are eating roots and tubers. Buildings are cobbled together from scrap iron and old shipping containers. Outlaw bands roam the hinterlands. There are rumors of people being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Dystopian for sure. OK, I’ll buy this one. But… a Martian dystopia. So there is that.
Bottom line: the book belongs in the sci fi section. No argument. All I’m saying is, there’s more going on here than a person might suspect from the label on the shelf.
Born in the American Midwest, Christian Schoon 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. 

Thanks again, Christian! Guys, be sure to keep an eye out for Zenn Scarlett hitting the shelves in your area, and show Christian your support by spreading the word!


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