Welcome to my blog tour for Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon, or as he is calling it the Zenn Blog-Tour-a-Palooza! For my stop I was really interested in hearing about some of the research behind Zenn Scarlett and the exoveternary aspect of the book. Thank you to Christian for humouring me :D
About the research on the exoveterinary aspect of the book
When it came to researching the medical/biological aspects of my novel about a young, exoveterinary trainee, I was fortunate in a number of ways.
First, I’ve been a science/medical science/biological science geek my whole life. I’ve always been fascinated and mildly shocked by the astounding way in which bodies, human or otherwise, function. Not to mention how they’re built in the first place. Not to mention how they evolved to the level of sophistication they’re currently at. Not to mention… all sorts of other mind-boggling stuff that, as soon as you get into the cellular/evolutionary/anatomical details you are left standing open-mouthed, head-shaking before the mighty blood-pumping, food-metabolizing, light-ray-registering, neuron-sparking, movie-playing-inside-my-skull-right-now wonder of it all. So, yes… life. Fabulous. Well done, universe.
Then, I’ve had the good fortune lately to be able to hang out with a number of veterinarians, from the kind that spay and neuter cute little companion animals to the kind that know how much sedation you need to knock out a full-grown black bear or a pissed-off mountain lion. My research in this case was to lean over their shoulders as they did things, then ask a stream of annoying questions that, for the most part, these vets patiently answered.
And, of course, I spent a fair amount of time online tracking down little skiffy details, like is there sufficient air pressure in the lowest part of the Martian canyon system of the Valles Marinaris to keep water from boiling away? Yes. Yes there is.
So, I’d say that overall the research portion of writing the book was minimal. And a big part of the reason for this, in addition to the above, is that…hey, I’m just makin’ stuff up here. If I wanted to have Zenn work on an 80-foot marine predator that was huge and beautiful and beastly and dangerous, I just made a whalehound, fabricated an ecological niche for him to inhabit, determined that he liked to eat dried flakes of another creature known as a black-smoke lurker and, presto, new creature. All right, yes, I would layer in other details to make my whalehound as credible as I could, but most of these bits could be drawn from extrapolating (OK, extrapolating wildly) on my own experiences or the data-banks laid down since the time I cracked my first book about animals and their habits. Then, it was just rinse-and-repeat for another two dozen or so alien animals and: a book happened.
So, thanks for letting me drop by and ramble on a little about “where swamp sloos come from.” I appreciate the opportunity and, of course, hope you and your readers will come meet Zenn and her mildly-researched menagerie of critters for yourselves. Cheers!
You're welcome, Christian! And thanks for stopping by :)
If you want to know more about Christian, Zenn Scarlett, and where you can find the book keep on reading below:
About the book:
When you're studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school... is a different kind of animal.
Best-selling author Mike Mullin (Ashfall) calls Zenn Scarlett "...delightful, bizarre, and occasionally terrifying." Melissa West (Gravity) says it’s “Utterly imaginative… sci-fi at its best... I couldn’t put it down!” And Temple Grandin (Animals in Translation) says "All future vets will want to read Zenn Scarlett and her adventures with veterinary medicine on alien animals."
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.
Buy the book from Amazon
Or add it to your Goodreads list.
About the author:
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.