Christian Schoon spent several years as an in-house writer with the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, CA, before going out on his own as a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in the American Midwest, he now works on his novels, continues freelance for the entertainment industry and also volunteers with groups dedicated to rehabilitating wildlife and fostering abused/neglected horses. His novels Zenn Scarlett and the sequel Under Nameless Stars were published by from Strange Chemistry Books.

A Strange Chemistry Author’s Take His Imprint’s Vaporization

by Christian Schoon

There was a big disturbance in the Force just recently. SF&F publisher Angry Robot Books announced the closure of their Strange Chemistry (Young Adult SF&F) and Exhibit A (Crime Fiction) imprints. I’m an author with Strange Chemistry, and while the news came as a surprise to me and the other authors in the SC stable, with hindsight, and in the context of today’s red-in-tooth-and-claw publishing environment, maybe it shouldn’t have come as entirely shocking news. (A disclaimer: this post contains no privileged information or secret decoder ring decoding. It’s just me and some opinions/gleanings from what’s been drifting around on the interwebs in the last few days).
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

There were so many wonderful debut authors in 2013, so I asked a few of them this:

Q: What was the most fun/unusual/interesting/etc thing you’ve learned since becoming a published author?

Here’s what they had to say…

April Genevieve Tucholke
April Genevieve Tucholke is a full-time writer who digs classic movies, redheaded villains, big kitchens, and discussing murder at the dinner table. She and her husband—a librarian, former rare-book dealer, and journalist—live in Oregon. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is her first novel.

Some interesting/unusual things I’ve learned as a 2013 debut:

  1. Use discretion when telling people you’re a writer. There is a 95 percent chance you will end up in a Fifty Shades of Grey conversation.
  2. Being an author means people will assume you’re rich and that you drink all the time. No matter what. They just will.
  3. “April Genevieve Tucholke” is far, far too long a name. It’s cocky, almost arrogant. What was I thinking?
  4. People will try to sell you their ideas for your next book. Try not to kill them.
  5. People will ask you how your sales are, and you will be too stunned every damn time to think of a good comeback.*
  6. If you leave your book lying around your parents will read it when they stay for the holidays. And you will regret those steamy scenes.
  7. Getting to meet (and occasionally hang out) with other authors never gets old.
  8. Readers rule.

* Such as: “I don’t know. How’s your salary?” or “Here’s my bank info. Why don’t you log on and check things out for
yourself?”

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MIND MELD: The Rules of Worldbuilding

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

In fiction, especially Fantasy, SF, and the like, part of the joy of reading is the sometimes vast, and complicated, worlds that authors create. However, there are certain “rules” that seem to apply to this process, and io9 recently published an article called 7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding, which made me wonder what authors and readers thought about the subject, what kind of “rules” they use in their writing, and also what they like to see in their reading. So I asked them:

Q: When you write, are there any particular “rules” you follow in your worldbuilding? What do you consider a “sin” in worldbuilding? For readers and authors, what do you like to see in regards to worldbuilding in your reading, and what do you consider a deal breaker? What worlds have captured your imagination more than others?

Here’s what they said…

Ingrid Jonach
Ingrid Jonach is the author of the young adult sci-fi romance novel When the World was Flat (and we were in love), published by Strange Chemistry.
Since graduating from university with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing (Hons) in 2005, Ingrid has worked as a journalist and in public relations, as well as for the Australian Government. Find out more at www.ingridjonach.com.


For me, worldbuilding has to add to the narrative. For example, there is no point in telling me the ins-and-outs of a new plant species unless it is eaten or used for medicinal purposes in the story. Likewise, there is no need to spend ten pages explaining a piece of technology if it is never mentioned again.

My young adult novel When the World was Flat (and we were in love) is set in our world, but – at the risk of sharing spoilers – it also includes an alternate world with a re-imagined history. This alternate world is the catalyst for the relationship between the two main characters and all of the worldbuilding is connected to the events in the story.

My work-in-progress (WIP) goes one step further than When the World was Flat (and we were in love), as it is set in a world with a re-imagined history. This means breaking the rules of our current world (e.g. everyone eats ice-cream three times a day instead of just for dessert), but with good reason (e.g. the world is run by kids). I promise that is not the premise of my WIP!

I loved the worldbuilding in the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy by Carrie Ryan, because it showed the separation of societies in a post apocalyptic world by distance and therefore culture. They even have different names for the zombies in each region, e.g. the Unconsecrated, Mudo and Plague Rats.
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[GUEST POST] Christian Schoon on The Inspiration for ZENN SCARLETT


Christian Schoon spent several years as an in-house writer with the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, CA, before going out on his own as a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in the American Midwest, he now works on his novels, continues freelance for the entertainment industry and also volunteers with groups dedicated to rehabilitating wildlife and fostering abused/neglected horses. His novel Zenn Scarlett will be published in the US and Canada on May 7,and in the UK on May 2; from Strange Chemistry Books. (North American distribution by Random House.)

The Inspiration for Zenn Scarlett

The reporter followed me into a room that was tropically hot and humid, maybe 85 degrees F. We were in a converted garage on the rural property of the veterinarian who takes care of the animals on my own acreage. When the reporter was far enough inside to make out what was floating in a large tank in the corner, I got a “Whoa!” and a quick step back from him. This is always satisfying.

Digression: my YA SF novel Zenn Scarlett follows the adventures of a 17-year-old girl in her novice year of training to be an exoveterinarian. She’s specializing in the care and treatment of generally large, usually dangerous, wildly fascinating alien life forms. Extraordinary creatures, exotic medical procedures, xenophobic paranoia, disturbing cross-species ESP and annoying romantic distractions ensue…
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