This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Title: This Mortal Coil
Author: Emily Suvada
Published: November 7th 2017 by Simon Pulse

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?


With a background as a Data Scientist-- as well as a big supporter of STEM (which is awesome)-- did you have to do additional research for this book, or did you use the knowledge you already have?

Most of the research was done through google, one question at a time. I’m constantly reading about the science topics that interest me, so much of what I included in the book was either fictional, or based on things I’d read over the last few years. I tend to collect cool ideas and facts from everything I read or see, and then stitch them into my work over time, rather than sit down and research something in a few big sessions and search for cool things then.

How many drafts did you go through before you settled on a copy to submit?

Oh, goodness. Maybe 5? I think I did three extensive rewrites, but there was definitely more drafts that were serious revisions. I do a LOT of rewriting. It seems to be part of my process - though I’d prefer it wasn’t!!

How do you outline? (paper, post-its, google docs)

I use a mixture - it depends on where in the process I am. Early on, I tend to use google docs and Scrivener, and then as time goes on, I’ll break my outlines out into paper, and cards. I also use a spreadsheet to track my outlines - monitoring where certain beats are in the story, and making sure that the pace is being kept up throughout the whole book.

Did you have any input into your cover?

I had the opportunity for input, but the designer had already come up with the incredible cover we have now - and when I saw it, I was absolutely floored. I fell in love at first sight. I couldn’t possibly have come up with it myself, and I’m thrilled that it’s so eye-catching (and so meaningful once you’ve read the first chapter…)

What was your favorite scene or character to write?

My favorite character to write is probably Leoben. He flows so effortlessly, and he’s a wonderful character. Leoben provides light and humor in what is otherwise a fairly dark book, and I definitely find myself trying to think up ways to give him more scenes because of that. He’s the one character who I never have to think about when I’m writing - his words just seem to magically appear on the page :D

Are there any other genres you would be interested in writing in?

I’ll definitely write adult science fiction one day, and I have some interest in writing a fantasy, but I don’t think that’s really where my voice lies. I expect my future books will be squarely science fiction, with a split between YA and adult.

Describe your book in 5 words.

Explosive, intense, technical, complex, big-hearted.

If you could make your book into another form of media, what would you choose? (ie. board game, graphic novel, movie, tv series)

I think this world would be perfect for TV. There’s so much backstory I haven’t touched on, and a huge amount of world-building I couldn’t fit into the text. Several characters we barely see in the book have complicated plans and actions happening behind the scenes, and I’d love to be able to showcase and explore that in a TV series.

I saw you are a Star Trek fan. I have to know. Kirk or Picard?

Neither are my favorites - I like Sisko and Janeway!! I’m a huge DS9 and Voyager fan :D

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

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