Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rex Rising - Chrystalla Thoma

Since others are kind enough to be hosting me today, I thought I'd return the gesture.

You'll find me spoiling SECTOR C over at Lexcade's place.

And Spoil of War is being featured at Indie eBooks.

Here, I've invited Chrystalla Thoma to talk about Rex Rising: Book One of Elei's Chronicles, her YA science fiction e-book that released on Sept. 1. I met Chrystalla when she submitted (and I accepted!) a most excellent story, "The Angel Genome," for the Extinct anthology and I've been a fan of hers since.

Who is Elei?

In a world where parasites create new human races, Elei leads a peaceful life as an aircar driver — until a mysterious attack on his boss sends him fleeing with a bullet in his side. Pursued for a secret he does not possess and with the fleet at his heels, he has but one thought: to stay alive. His pursuers aren’t inclined to sit down and talk, although that’s not the end of Elei’s troubles. The two powerful parasites inhabiting his body, at a balance until now, choose this moment to bring him down, leaving Elei with no choice but to trust in people he hardly knows in a mad race against time. It won’t be long before he realizes he must find out this deadly secret – a secret that might change the fate of his world and everything he has ever known – or die trying.

What compelled you to write Rex Rising?

Behind every book is another story – the story of the author and how she or he ended up creating a world, new characters and a twisted plot. It’s the book’s backstory, if you will, and it is inextricably linked to the author’s life at the moment of the writing but also to her or his past.

Having said all this, if I cast my mind back to the time I wrote the first draft of the story, in 2007, certain events and thoughts jump in my memory. I had moved to Costa Rica, following my Costa Rican husband, after a long stay in Germany. Although Costa Rica is a relatively rich Latin country, the house we lived in was next to a river on whose steep banks a slum was built out of tin and cardboard. I saw squalor and poverty like never before in my life (although Egypt came close). I wanted to create a sort of post-apocalyptic world where one human race oppresses the other, and I admit I drew inspiration from certain neighborhoods...

Another idea that was a lot on my mind at the time was the uncanny ability certain people have to assess a person instantly – with just a brief encounter to know whether this person is good, interesting, trustworthy etc. – an ability many people seem to lack. Rex Rising revolves a lot around Elei’s lack of trust in his own instincts, especially when events begin to become twisted and the truth to seem like a lie, until he learns to trust more in himself.

Finally, the parasites! I was fascinated with them ever since I read a book called Parasite Rex, which described all different sorts of parasites and all the amazing things they can do, altering their host’s abilities and behavior in order to propagate. I remember thinking that the scientific facts I had just read beat fantasy by a long shot! So I decided to give parasites a major role in the story.

What can you tell us about the science in Rex Rising?

If you wonder if it is a good idea to control one parasite by introducing another, I admit I don’t have an example – but consider this: in ecology, if a species is introduced in an environment where it has no enemies, it will take over the environment and destroy it. Efforts have been made to control such invasive species by introducing another species. For instance, on the Bat Islands of Costa Rica, rats were introduced by man and completely took over the ecosystem. So, cats were introduced to control them. Now they are reaching a balance. Therefore, I do think that it is a possibility. You can check on the internet about invasive species or assisted dispersion to read more about the topic.

Regarding parasites attracting each other or attracting their hosts, read for instance about the Toxoplasma gondii parasite we humans often get from cats. Studies have shown that when rats get infected with it, instead of avoiding cats and places cats frequent (marked by cat urine), they actively seek them out. In effect, they seek to be eaten, so that they can pass the parasite to the cats where it will continue its life cycle. Read Parasite Rex mentioned above for many examples of behavior-modifying parasites.

What do you hope readers will take away from Rex Rising?

Rex Rising is Elei’s journey. He struggles to discover the truth about his world and the people around him and to learn to trust in himself, his own strength and his instincts. I hope readers will identify with him, feel his pain, his fear, his confusion and his joy as the story unfolds, and that they may even see their own lives with different eyes.

Find Rex Rising at the following distributors:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE

Read more about it – learn about the geography of the world and read a sample at: http://chrystallathoma.wordpress.com/rex-rising

Like Chrystalla's Facebook Fanpage

Follow Chrystalla on Twitter: @chrystallathoma


Chrystalla Thoma said...

Thank you for having me, dear Phoenix! Can't wait to read Sector-C! :)

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Rex Rising is definitely in my TBR stack. Thanks for stopping by!

Jo-Ann said...

Hey Phoenix
Seeing footage of bushfires in Texas immediately made me think of you and your beautiful critters. I hope that you're all safe. My thoughts are with you (my email's also down, so apologies for making this a public rather than personal message).
The people of Victoria feel Texas' pain right now, as we had a massive bushfire 2 and 1/2 years ago that tore through the state and caused massive losses.
As communications will probably be down for a few days, I won't assume the worse if you dont post for a little while.
But I hope we all hear you're safe and well!
Hugs from across the globe.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Thankyou for the kind thoughts, Jo-Ann! My little farm is out of immediate danger right now though we can certainly smell the smoke on the wind. (And I'm obviously sensitive to smoke as it's playing havoc with my sinuses.) I've posted a bit about it on the Animal Junkie blog today.

As you likely know from your own experiences, things will only go from bad to worse as repercussions from the fires and drought domino their way into next year. :o(

Chrystalla Thoma said...

Fires are so dangerous. Keep safe!