Monday, October 28, 2013

Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran

Today I am thrilled to feature one of my long-time critique partners—Bonnie Doran—with her recently released debut novel, Dark Biology.

About Bonnie: Bonnie’s debut novel, Dark Biology, released September 2013 from Harbourlight, an imprint of Pelican Book Group.

She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband of thirty years. They’re owned by two Siamese cats. John is an electrical engineer who works with lasers for a living. He’s also a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet.

Bonnie’s other interests besides writing include reading, cooking, solving Sudoku puzzles, volunteering at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and telling groan-producing puns. She attends a local science fiction convention as well as various writers conferences each year. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, its North Denver Chapter, and the Denver Area Science Fiction Association.   

You can find Bonnie online at the following places: 
Website: Where Faith and Science Fiction Collide:
Twitter: @bonniedoran
Twitter hashtag: #DarkBiology

About the Book: Renowned vaccinologist "Hildi" Hildebrandt has set her sights on beating her brother to a Nobel Prize, and the opportunity to conduct experiments on the International Space Station might just provide the means to obtain that goal. Chet Hildebrandt should have had that opportunity. But now he'll teach a lesson to them all: his hot-shot astronaut sister, his philandering hypocritical father, and the CDC for not properly appreciating his work. One vial of a virus purloined from the CDC labs and released at his father's marriage seminar should do the trick, without hurting anybody. After all, it's only a mild influenza strain. . . . Or is it?

Interview with the author:

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

My journey started in fifth grade, when my poem “Mercury” was published in the school’s anthology. Even then, I had an interest in astronomy and science.

I took journalism classes, wrote a weekly devotion column for a local newspaper, wrote a few magazine articles, and penned dozens of devotions over a number of years.

The unexpected turn came when a workshop leader challenged me to “write what I read,” which was science fiction. I never thought I’d write fiction.

How do you balance family life with writing?

John and I spend a lot of time together. We don’t have kids but two demanding Siamese cats we play with as often as possible.

I’m not always successful with balance. At this moment, I have a timer set for 25 minutes so I’ll take a break after that time and switch to household stuff. The method works fine as long as I obey the buzzer. Otherwise, dishes and laundry pile up.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

I pray about the story and sometimes find it takes an unexpected turn. In Dark Biology, a red tie showed up in the story. The character wouldn’t tell me why he wore it. When I Googled “red tie,” I discovered it was a symbol of both sin and forgiveness. God directed the story when I wasn’t aware of it.

Regarding time with the Lord, it’s the first thing I do in the morning. Without it, I do feel unbalanced.

Would you discuss Dark Biology? The idea, the research, and the scope of the project?

The idea came from my anger upon hearing about yet another pastor caught in adultery. I thought, what if a character’s son was angry enough to unleash a biological weapon at his philandering father’s marriage seminar? The story developed from there.

Research included a lot of Internet searching. I also read The Great Influenza about the H1N1 outbreak during World War I and Panic in Level 4. The author wrote about his experience in entering Biosafety Level 4 while scientists worked with a deadly virus. That’s more on-hands research than I wanted to do!

A former astronaut candidate checked my novel for errors regarding the space program.

What kinds of things did you have to revise once the editor at your publishing house got her hands on your manuscript?

Lots! As a condition of the contract, I had to cut the number of POVs from nine to six. One of my characters wasn’t happy about being demoted.

The first edit after that eliminated whole chapters and tightened the story.

The second edit was the hardest. Besides fixing some nitty-gritty stuff, I was correcting the NASA stuff from the input I received. I also had to re-write a scene with a defibrillator.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

My next project is a science fiction novel, possibly for the mainstream market:

High Concept: Do aliens need God?

Summary: The opportunity of a lifetime forces a Christian agoraphobic linguist to rocket to a remote planet. Her blunders in translating the language of the first-discovered alien race results in a declaration of war.

I’m halfway through a rough draft of Terror on Targus Three.

Thank you so much, Bonnie! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

Finally, an excerpt from Dark Biology:

Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran

Hildi’s nose itched.
She ignored it. While she waited for her lab partner to emerge from the airlock, she checked the seals of her blue biocontainment suit again. Good habits could save her life.
Hildi pulled a coiled yellow air hose suspended from the ceiling and plugged it into a socket near her waist. The deflated suit expanded as air roared past her face. The familiar ballooning sensation saddened her for a moment. She’d miss her work here.
Then she grinned. She’d be wearing a pressure suit in her new job and performing similar cutting-edge work in an even stranger environment.
Her practiced eyes appraised Biosafety Level 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most dangerous lab. Everything “down and cold.” But an adjoining room held liquid-nitrogen freezers filled with hot agents, the deadliest diseases known to man. Francine stepped from the airlock. Hildi’s college friend had never worked in Level 4, but she moved with confidence. Hildi stared into Francine’s faceplate and noted her calm expression. She’d do fine.
Hildi maneuvered past the stainless-steel tables dominating the room. She pulled two-inch test tubes, a push-button micropipette, and other tools from drawers and placed them in the biosafety cabinet, a glorified box with a fume hood and clear front that rested on the work counter. She detached her hose, inhaling the reserved air in her suit.
Humming to herself, she walked into the adjoining room and attached her suit to another hose. Every time Hildi moved in the lab, she repeated the procedure, a necessary inconvenience if she wanted to continue breathing.
She punched a code into the lock of one of the stainless-steel freezers and extracted a vial of the latest X virus that may or may not have killed John Doe.
Returning to the biosafety hood, she slipped her yellow-gloved hands under the clear protective shield, a sneeze guard at a toxic salad bar. She withdrew a tiny sample of the unknown and released it into one of the tubes. After Hildi repeated the protocol many times, she keyed the information into the computer.
Hildi glanced at Francine just as she straightened from a hunched position over a microscope. Francine turned, her movements jerky like a marionette’s. Her suit’s chest zipper gaped, exposing her blue scrubs underneath. She seemed to shrink as her biosuit deflated.
Hildi froze.
“I’ve got a problem here!” Francine yelled, her voice quavering. The rush of air in their ears turned conversations in Level 4 into a shouting match. Francine fumbled for the zipper with trembling fingers.

1 comment:

Bonnie Doran said...

Thanks for hosting me, Margie!