Today, I offer you dear readers a treat. Christian Schoon, author of Zenn Scarlett is here sharing a guest post for the blog tour! I am so excited to share this with you! :)
ROOM WITH A VIEW…ON MARS
Hi to Ginny and her readers and thanks for letting me drop in for this leg of the Zenn Scarlett Blog tour extravaganza! (OK, maybe it’s not exactly an extravaganza in the full meaning of the word, but it’s still great to be here.)
I thought we’d snoop around the room of my heroine, Zenn, and see what we could find out about her. So, I can tell you this much first: she’s 17, and studying to be an exoveterinarian at an ancient cloister tucked into a deep canyon on Mars. The cloister includes both a clinic and a training facility that takes in a whole range of alien creatures that need medical attention. Zenn is in her novice year of training, specializing in very big, sometimes very hazardous-to-your-health animals. Her dorm room is up on the second story of the calefactory building, basically a meeting hall.
We pause outside her door. The hallway is lined with other doors, all closed, all the other rooms empty except for the ones belonging to Hamish, the cloister’s new sexton, and Sister Hild, one of Zenn’s instructors. Seems the cloister school has fallen on hard times since the Rift cut off all communication and trade between Mars and Earth. So, Zenn is now the only student left at the school, which is run by her Uncle Otha, the cloister’s director-abbot.
We nudge the door open and step inside. It’s a small room, simple, with a narrow bunk, a desk littered with compu-shards, stacks of v-films and old-style ink-on-paper books on a dizzying variety of subjects: the molecular make-up of bloodcarn venom, the care and feeding of mega-fauna like whalehounds and the brain chemistry of the Lithohippus indra, vacuum-dwelling animals that have evolved the ability to move starships between the stars. There’s a pile of what looks like playing cards. You turn them over; each one appears to have an anatomical term on one side, and its definition on the other. Flash cards. It sort of looks like she may have been prepping for a big test of some sort. In any case, this Zenn girl seems pretty focused on her studies.
The window on the far wall is open, the scent of blossoming gensoy drifts in from the cloister’s fields. Beneath the window is a battered, old soft-shell backpack made of some strange kind of leather. This is Zenn’s vet field kit; it used to belong to her Uncle Otha, but now it’s hers, and it’s one of her most prized possessions. We rummage inside it, and find medical equipment like a portable sedation-field generator, various medications and bandages, some odd looking cylinders with “Cryo-Crystalizer” and “Quadrobiotic Spray” printed on the outside.
On the wall is a bookshelf. Between even more reference books we find a few odds and ends. In a worn, wooden frame, there’s a faded v-filmloop of her mother. Mai Scarlett is a tall, slender woman with straight, jet-black hair and a warm smile. She wears an exovet lab coat and waves at the person holding the camera. Then she brandishes a rolled scroll, her diploma. Although there is no sound, we see her laugh, she appears triumphant and giddy. She’s just graduated from the cloister exovet school and is on the verge of starting her career. It will not be a long one. Zenn still misses her, even though she was lost years ago when Zenn was only nine, during a risky medical procedure on a 700-foot-long indra.
A corner of paper catches our eye, protruding from between two books on the shelf. It’s a note, badly smudged, badly spelled, from Liam Tucker. He’s a towner boy, Zenn’s age, who has recently started spending a lot of time at the cloister. He’s full of himself, has a bit of a reputation regarding both trouble and girls. The paper, which Zenn kept after he passed it to her several days ago, is a thank you note from Liam; the N in thank you is written backwards. And it’s not Liam being ironic. Zenn smiled and shook her head when she saw this. But she wasn’t laughing at the boy. While most towners are suspicious of the cloister’s alien animals, Liam has shown himself to be above this, appearing eager to learn about the creatures Zenn spends most of her days with. The note is simply thanking her for sharing what she knows with him, and she had to smile at Liam for even thinking such a note was necessary. While Zenn really doesn’t have much time for Liam and his questions and jokes, she feels that his interest in the cloister’s menagerie of animals is a good thing. Maybe he’ll tell other towners that the alien creatures aren’t the “diseased, unclean monsters” that everyone in the nearby village of Arsia City seems to think they are.
A sound between a snort and a purr suddenly comes from somewhere behind the desk. We stoop down. A pair of large, gold-green eyes blinks up at us. It’s Katie, Zenn’s pet rikkaset. After a moment, she comes out into the open and stretches her cat-sized, violet-and-cream striped body, whips her long-haired plume-of-a-tail back and forth twice and sits. She’s got a foxy-lynx-like face and black, raccoon-fingered paws. She’s deaf, and now speaks to us using the sign language Zenn taught her: ‘Katie hungry. And very! Have treat for Katie?’ There’s brown paper bag on top of the bookshelf. You take out a dried grasshopper and offer it. Katie snatches it quickly from your hand with one dexterous paw, hops up on Zenn’s bed and crouches over her prize, chewing eagerly.
Another sound floats in through the open window, a sort of distant honk-growl. It’s one of the resident Tanduan swamp sloos, a marine mammaloid the length of a battleship. I ask if you’d like to go visit the sloo in her treatment pool down at the other end of the cloister compound. You glance around Zenn’s room and, deciding you’ve begun to understand a bit about her life her at the cloister, agree that a visit to the sloo sounds intriguing.
We exit back out into the empty hall. As you close the door behind you, Katie signs “Crunch-treat good for Katie!” and we head down the stairs.
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:
Find Christian at: