Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Interview with Chrystalla Toma - author of Rex Rising
Barbara: Hi Chrystalla, welcome. You just published your YA science fiction novel Rex Rising, and in the story summary you mention parasites. How did you come up with the idea for the parasitic element of the story?
Chrystalla: Science fascinates me; science magazines like American Scientist are crazier than any fantasy book I’ve ever read. Having a biologist as a husband means I have free access to lots of biology magazines and books and I get to see strange things first hand. Somewhere along the line we were talking about parasites and my husband bought a book called Parasite Rex describing all sorts of parasites and the way they affect their hosts. The rest, as they say, is history. The book opened up a brand new world for me and gave me ideas for my novel. Using parasites in science fiction is of course nothing new. A famous example is the movie Alien (and its sequels). My story isn’t horror/thriller like Alien, but the parasites do play a very important role nevertheless, changing the behavior of the characters and shaping the world of Rex Rising.
Barbara: Did it take you long to write?
Chrystalla: Novels are big animals, so they take time to take shape. From the moment the first idea about Rex Rising popped into my mind until it was published, a few years passed. That doesn’t mean that every novel takes so long, but this one was born in stages. First came the idea about the world of the Seven Islands, that was in 2001, I believe. Then came the parasites and the way they might change the world and the people in it. Finally came the characters and their story. So it took me a few years, but in fits and starts. I wrote down the first draft in 2008, and revised it over the past year.
Barbara: Is YA literature your first love?
Chrystalla: Fantasy/science fiction is my first and true love. When I started writing, I didn’t think I wrote for a specific public – after all, as a child I read literature meant for adults and as the years passed, I saw adults read literature for teenagers (like Harry Potter and Inkheart). However, once I started writing my own novels, it was pointed out to me that they have many elements of YA literature, and only then did I realize that I was indeed writing YA. The young age of the protagonists, their inner conflicts and issues with sexuality, love, family and purpose in life, they are typical of YA fiction.
Barbara: I think readers would be very surprised that English is not your first language - do you think in English when you write?
Chrystalla: True, my native language is Greek, but I feel quite confident writing in English, since I studied it and have been reading it for many years. As to your question, absolutely, I do think in English when I write. I even hear the voice of my characters in my ear as I write, their inflection and tone.
Barbara: Your cover is fantastic. Did you do it yourself? - (I know you did)
Chrystalla: Thank you, Barbara. Yes, I made the cover myself. I bought a stock image and changed it to my taste. I love the idea of making my own covers just as I want them to be. I guess this is one of the main advantages of self publishing.
Barbara: Who are your favorite authors?
Chrystalla: Right now I love Cassandra Clare for YA paranormal, but also Patricia McKillip and Cecilia Dart for epic fantasy, and for science fiction I think Ray Bradbury’s stories (I especially love the Illustrated Man) are wonderful, even if they are old.
Barbara: Do you write full time?
Chrystalla: I wish! :) I have always written in my free time after work. At this moment, I just resigned from my job due to stress-related health problems and plan to look for freelance jobs as a translator (which is my profession), hoping that way I will have more time to write and publish. That would be really lovely!
Barbara: When is the next book out!
Chrystalla: Well, I have set myself a deadline for the first draft of Rex Cresting (sequel to Rex Rising): end of 2011. I do hope to have finished it earlier, though, but by the time it is ready to be published, more months may pass. Therefore I aim for January for the release, but it could be February or March.
Barbara: Thank you for telling us about yourself and your stories.
Chrystalla: Thank you for having me here today!
Visit Chrystalla’s blog for more information on the world of Rex Rising and her other works:
You can find Rex Rising at the following distributors:
Watch the book trailer: