Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview with Emily Suvada and a US giveaway of her book, This Mortal Coil

Dear All:
I am so thrilled to get the chance to promote this amazing new author, Emily, who wrote a book that completely floored me! This is definitely for anyone who loves science fiction/dystopian type novels.

This Mortal CoilGoodreads Book Description: Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

My Rating: 5 couches

My Review: There are a very short handful of books that stand out to me this year, and this is one of them.

The setup is like a lot of dystopian YA thrillers-- a deadly virus takes over the world, rather zombie like virus, but the dying explode, making transmission even higher. Cat is the daughter of an esteemed scientist who is the world's only hope for making a vaccine, but he and his protege are taken away from Cat in the first few pages of the book by Cartaxus, a corporation that has nefarious plans to restrict the vaccine. Her father warns Cat to stay out of the hands of Cartaxus and never let them learn of her existence. She spend the next two years trying to stay alive before a Cartaxus soldier comes to the house looking for her, and her life changes forever.

This whole book was a rollercoaster ride and in the best way possible. I was on the edge of my seat because the pulse pounding moments just keep coming and coming and then twist after twist pummels me. I loved the integration of coding and genetic manipulation, which honestly when this happens in real life, that's likely the combination that will be the key. The science for YA is very good, probably the best I've seen, and while there are some hand wavey parts to it, overall it's impressive. The coding stuff is excellent, which makes sense since Suvada is a coder herself.

OK, I just had to get that out of the way because most science in these books makes me very angry, and Suvada did a great job so had to put that first. Probably the best part though, are the characters, and especially Cat, the protagonist really grounds the story. She is super likeable and the whole time I was holding my breath to see her get out of impossible situations. Cole is hot, and I love the gradual build up to whatever is going on between them. Cat's father, the scientist, even though he's not really present in the story, is one of the most interesting characters-- just learning about his past and what kind of person he is was really fascinating.

There have been some excellent science fiction in YA this year, and all three of my top picks (including Warcross and Nyxia), have all been science fiction, and I can't wait to see what Suvada does next (hopefully it's a sequel to This Mortal Coil!).

Blurb about Emily:
Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to earn a degree in mathematics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take her minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband.

Interview with Emily 
1. I just want to know a little more about you! I loved reading your bio, the fact that you majored in math and astrophysics, and are fascinated with genetic engineering and do coding in your "spare" time. Can you talk a bit more about your varied experiences and how it helped This Mortal Coil to be born?
Sure! My background is a little unusual for an author - like you said, I studied math and astrophysics, and I then went on to work as a data scientist for several years. I'm a giant nerd, and am constantly reading about cool science discoveries, and I write amateur code as a hobby. I love reading, and always intended to write one day, but nothing I wrote really sparkled. Before This Mortal Coil, I wrote a book about a girl who wasn't into science, because I thought that was what people wanted to read. Needless to say, it didn't work out :) It wasn't until I started letting my passions into my writing - filling it with all the cool things I love about science and technology - that it really clicked. This Mortal Coil is a love letter to all the things I'm obsessed with - genetics, coding, nanotechnology, explosions, kissing - and I finally found my voice while writing it.

2. I want to know about your experiences with STEM and how you think we can engage young women to be a part of this (something that is near and dear to my heart as a scientist with a young daughter).
It's so cool that you're a scientist! I feel like I should be interviewing you, not the other way around :) And yes, I think it's really important to encourage young women to engage with STEM. A big part of what needs to be done is breaking the mold - shattering the stereotype that STEM isn't a good field for women. Scientists like yourself are a huge part of that, setting wonderful examples, and us authors need to make sure we're not perpetuating stereotypes in our writing. I hope that readers look at my main character using her coding skills to be heroic and think that a) she's cool, and b) they could do that, too. The more role models in STEM that young women see - both in books and on TV, as well as in real life, the more empowered they'll feel to choose a challenging and exciting field like STEM.

3. Now onto your amazing book. Catarina is an amazing protagonist, brave, smart, and resilient. And I really enjoyed most of the characters in the book. Do your characters come from bits and pieces of people you know? Do they come first and then the story? Or vice versa?
My characters are definitely stitched together from people I know, altered through the lens of fiction. I'm very stubborn, like Catarina. At least my husband says I am :D And there's a lot of him in Cole. Those two, along with a couple of the other characters, came to me fully-formed and built the story around themselves, but the more minor characters sprung up from spaces within the plot. So it's a mix of characters driving the story, and vice-versa.

4. Tell us a bit about your experiences with world building, since there is quite a bit with this dystopian that has a zombie like virus. What was the hardest and easiest part about it?
Haha - the hardest part about world-building is paring it down! I absolutely love world-building and if I included everything I've developed about the world of This Mortal Coil, the book would be about three times longer than it is. Coming up with ideas for future technology is fairly easy, I find, but the challenge comes with imagining how people might interact with that technology, and how it might not work in the way we think it will. It's really the gritty details about tech that make a world feel believable. For example, imagine a story written twenty years ago that predicted smartphones - these shiny black oblongs that put the internet at our fingertips. That would have sounded cool, but it would sound so much cooler if the main character in the story had cracked their screen for the second time in a month, had tape over it, and kept uploading her photos to the wrong cloud account, so she didn't know where anything was. Those small, human details about our interaction with technology are the biggest challenge in world-building, but they're also the most powerful and rewarding when you come up with them. 

5. If your main characters could be sorted into Hogwarts houses, which houses would they be in and why? Also, what is your house and why?
Okay... *cracks knuckles*. I'm only going to give you the main two, because honestly this whole book and its characters are made of spoiler. Catarina is a Slytherin because she's analytical, practical, and not afraid to get her hands dirty to get the job done. She's not far away from Gryffindor, though. Cole is a Hufflepuff, which is tough for him, since he's a soldier and he's been forced into a very dangerous role in this world. As for me, I'm a Slytherin (as are most characters in the book). I'm very determined, and I tend to be analytical, goal-oriented, and ambitious. But I promise I'm not evil! (evil author laugh)

6. I love that there's a ton of science (and coding) in this book. Can you tell us how you did you research for this book? Did you turn to experts? Books? 
Beyond the experience I have from my studies and past jobs, like most writers, most of my research comes from long google sessions! I actually subscribe to some news digests about science and technology (like @futureseek), so I try to keep up-to-date with what's happening in those fields on a daily basis. 

7. We have to know. Is this the first book in a series/trilogy? If so, can you tell us in very vague terms what we have to look forward to?
This is a series! We'll be announcing more details on the coming books very soon. I'm working on Book 2 at the moment, and I can tell you that it opens just a few days after the end of This Mortal Coil. It's pretty action-heavy, maybe even more so than This Mortal Coil, and will provide answers to a lot of the questions left open by it. We're going to see more of the world and delve a little deeper into the genehacking subculture. And it wouldn't be a proper sequel without some big twists :)

8. Any final words to my readers?
Nothing other than I hope you love the book!

Don't forget to pre-order this fantastic book! You'll get lots of fun pre-order goodies from Emily. See this link on her blog for details!

And now what you have all been waiting for, being able to enter into this awesome giveaway to win a signed ARC of her book. Sorry, US only but there will be INT giveaways soon!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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