I’ve been given the pleasure of asking Christian Schoon a few questions, and while doing some research on his background, I’ve come to a conclusion that he is the proverbial jack of all trades. His first young adult novel, Zenn Scarlett is being published by the wildly popular YA publisher, Strange Chemistry. The cover is simply breath taking, I’ve caught myself staring at it in awe multiple times. Mr. Schoon has also as per his webpage bio has: “Acted, toured with a theatre group, sang lead, played bass, and/or wrote lyrics for a number of rock bands, shingled roofs, sold Halloween costumes, wrote for a med school paper…” and too much more to list. So this leads to my first question.
Q: Is there anything you can’t do?
Of the one or two things I can’t do (my wife is totally ROFL right now) something I’d LIKE to be able to do is rope, as in: handle a lasso. No, really. This would be useful. We foster horses here on our farm. Most of them come from abuse or neglect situations and a few of them are too wary of humans to be able to put a halter on them or even get close enough to work on their feet if hooves need trimming, etc. In these cases, being able to accurately toss a lariat around a reluctant horse’s neck would be handy. I’ve played around with lariats a little, but when I see someone who can snare a galloping horse, while he or she is also riding a moving horse, I’m filled with deep wonder and admiration. And, around here, it’s not just horses that occasionally need catching. One of the shelters we volunteer with had an emu hop the fence and take off cross-country. I coulda been a ropin’ hero that day.
Q: I’ve been peeking at the upcoming release of Zenn Scarlett for a while now, the scope of the story sounds very daunting. Are you sure you can cover everything in one book while giving justice to this fresh world you are creating?
Turns out I don’t have to cover all my exoveterinarian bases with one book – the sequel is mostly finished and is due out in about a year. That being said, I do cover a lot of ground in the initial novel. Hopefully, I did my authorial job of fleshing out all the character, creature, cultural and planetary fine-grain detail. Guess you and other readers will let me know how I did.
Q: I’m curious what difficulties you had writing Zenn Scarlett as the main character is a young female and if you had any problems relating with her emotions or connecting to her since you are a male? Also, I’ve noticed a lot of male authors recently have strong female leads: Chuck Wendig – Miriam Black, Jonathan Howard – Katya, and yourself included. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Great question. I’ve actually had feedback from several early reviewers on this, and they were kind enough/perceptive enough (please choose one) to say I’d done a pretty fair job of nailing this particular element of the story. My friends would say this is due to my never having grown up (or even getting very close). I suspect that’s a big part of it. Also, one of the real-world role models for Zenn is our local veterinarian, who is female, but who also preserves a marvelous eternally-youthful aspect to her own personality as far as her enthusiasm, empathy and fearlessness when it comes to working with animals from tiny kittens to 450-pound black bears or 10-foot alligators. As for the prevalence of strong female characters recently, I’m not really sure of the root cause. For me, as mentioned, it just seemed natural to have my protagonist be a 17-year-old girl; the majority of small-animal vets are female, too. But I’ll go out on a limb and venture that Sigourney Weaver’s breakout role as the kick-ass female xenomorph-slayer in the first Alien film back in ‘79 planted a sort of cultural guidepost that may have had some influence, at least in my SF genre.
Q: Young Adult fiction seems to be all the rage lately and Strange Chemistry is an excellent incubator for your book to hatch from. Did at any point in writing this novel did you consider making this just a regular Science Fiction novel and not YA based or was it strictly YA from the onset?
It was YA from the very start, and the genesis of the book was about eight years ago, so the YA tsunami was just beginning to build. I think this was largely due to my above mentioned arrested development issues.
Q: I’m always interested in knowing what surprises authors once they realize their book is actually getting published! Anything strike you unawares or was the procedure just another old form-fitting hat thrown on top of a familiar bald spot for you?
Hey, who told you about my… oh, metaphor… never mind. When I still lived in Los Angeles, I wrote and sold a number of TV scripts. So, some of the print publishing industry procedures – contracts, feedback from agent/editor, etc. – seemed similar to me. But, on the other hand, the initial agent submission process and then submitting to publishers, was a whole new ball game, so the “waiting for The Call” thing surprised me by being such a nail-biter.
Q: Looking at your “authorial background story” it says you participate in several awesome local animal welfare groups which I think is fantastic! This obviously connects in a way with Zenn Scarlet and her exoveterinarian training, but does it also have underlying themes within the book ?
The main thematic link between my animal rescue/rehab volunteer work and Zenn Scarlett’s story is that humans need to be more respectful and tuned in to meeting the needs and preserving the habitats of the animals with whom we share the planet.
Q: Do you have any other areas you would like to pursue in writing after the Zenn Scarlet series is complete?
Since I’m currently working on the sequel, I’m still pretty well immersed in Zenn’s world and not thinking very far beyond it. But I really enjoy steampunk and have some ideas about something that might be sorta fun to pursue in that realm. I’ll drop in here and let you know if that particular dirigizepp ever gets airborne…
Tons of thanks to Christian Schoon and the folks at Strange Chemistry for allowing me to be about of this blog tour. Need more from Mr. Schoon?
Christian Schoon Bio:
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.
Pre-Order Zenn Scarlett on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Zenn-Scarlett-Christian-Schoon/dp/1908844558
Find Christian at:
Author blog: christianschoon.com
Publisher’s website: http://strangechemistrybooks.com/our-authors/christian-schoon/