Author Interview: Chrystalla Thoma

This week, Rex Rising author and sci-fi/fantasy joins me (Landra) in a quickfire 5 question interview. Without further ado here she is!  

1. I expected to get the willies when reading the story due to the parasites, but I didn’t… luckily ;). What I really want to know is what research on parasites did you have to conduct for the story? 

Glad to know the parasites didn’t creep you out. 🙂 I was interested in parasites before I wrote “Rex Rising” – they are fascinating creatures that can alter behavior, the function of one’s body, even the DNA and reproduction modus. They are so complicated that it is only recently we have started to decipher how they move from host to host and how they make their host do their bidding. I read everything on parasites that I could find, looking for ideas on what my parasites could do.

Being a cat lover, one of the parasites that interested me a lot is toxoplasma gondii, a cat parasite that can also be transmitted to humans and which alters our behavior. It has been found to make women more flirty and outgoing, men more paranoid and macho, and to sometimes lead to schizophrenia. From there, it was an easy leap to my parasites.

2. With all the action and conflict you only get a bit of each character’s backstory, but I was still wondering more about Hera. In book 2 will readers get more Hera and more information about who she is in the grand scheme of things?

Yes, absolutely, we do learn more of each main character’s backstory in book 2 (and more in book 3) – Kalaes’ and Hera’s.

But if you like Hera, she has her own novelette, called (what else?) “Hera”. This novelette takes place a couple of years before the events in “Rex Rising” and shows us where Hera comes from and how she decides to join the resistance.

3. Did you plan on a trilogy with Rex or did the story mutate into trilogy status? 

Rex Rising has a peculiar story as a…story. *snicker* I wrote its first draft many years ago, and it was a very different story, but some of the world building was done then. I picked it up again more recently, about 4-5 years back, and realized I wanted to keep the world and write a different story. So I worked on my characters’ backstories and characteristics, decided what the story was, and set down to write it. It was a short novella, which I then lay aside as I was working on something completely different (an epic fantasy with dragons). About 2 years ago, I picked it up again and decided I wanted to work on it. I cleaned it and expanded it and saw again the whole story in my mind, and realized it didn’t end with “Rex Rising”. I immediately made the outline for the next two books and have been working on the trilogy ever since.

4. Book 2, Rex Cresting is now available on Amazon but could you tell readers when we can expect book 3? And you mentioned a book from Kalaes point of view on your website?

Yes, “Rex Cresting” is available, and book 3 (Rex: Equilibrium) should be out sometime this summer, probably toward its end. And yes, I very much want to write a book from Kalaes’ point of view – exploring again backstory, seeing what happened to him in the past which led to him being as he is and to the events of “Rex Cresting”.

5. Finally, what do you want readers to take away from reading the Elei Chronicles?

This is always a tough question. Each reader will take away something different, I believe, but if you’re asking whether there is an underlying message – maybe just this: trust in your heart; it knows when someone cares for you.

Review: Rex Rising – Cate’s Take

Rating: Yay!

Rex Rising is crazy science fiction done right. Chrystalla Thoma has introduced us to a world where the most basic necessities are scarce, and parasites are readily introduced to bodies juuuust to see what they do.

What I particularly enjoyed about RR was the worldbuilding. We don’t get a whole lot of it, necessarily, but what we do get is extremely well done. Between the religions, the parasites, and the history of Elei’s world, we get something unique that beckons us to return to it.

There’s a bit of dual narration within the mystery Thoma builds. One perspective follows Elei, a boy on the run who tries to piece together the events of the tragedy that spurs him to leave his home and find any help he can; the other follows Hera, a police officer of sorts trying to find Elei and, more importantly, what Elei has. This book will hook you from beginning to end.

Anyone with a love of science fiction will enjoy Rex Rising. It will hook you from word one and won’t let go.

Review: Rex Rising — Landra’s Take

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Rating: Yay!

Action, Parasites, and Savior. These three words sum up Rex Rising in a nutshell. Combine those 3 words with an unlikely hero and an amazing supporting cast, and you get a book that will have you speed reading through the dead of night. My secret— I read this book in 3 hours. A testament to how good it was.

For those wanting a bit more detail the book opens with Elei, a young aircar driver, on the run and suffering from a real crappy case of amnesia. Think Cellular with a touch of Memento. Not enough time and bleeding like a stuck pig, Elei is desperate to reach a the location on a slip of paper in his pocket. What happens when he reaches his destination is everything but predictable. The poor kid doesn’t seem to catch a break, and either is getting shot at, suffering from some internal pain or thinking to hard about life. I liked Elei. He’s easy to relate to and all his actions are justifiable due to the parasites roaming his body and the personal life experiences. This is definitely not a kid who was raised with a silver spoon. Heck, his fondest memory is of communal showers and being lucky enough to eat a good meal (something besides algae bread and fungi).

The world Thoma has created is fascinating. A group of islands where water is a hot commodity, and suffering from parasitic diseases an everyday challenge. The ruling parasitic race, Gultur is wicked and insane. Though you don’t get a ton of face time with the bad guys there is plenty to suggest that they could care less about spilling blood in the name of their parasite. The descriptions and locales are vivid, and devastating from the fancy Gultur towers to the poor villages filled with people struggling to survive.

Overall, I couldn’t get enough of this book. Imagery, plot, characters everything was easy to fall into step with. The only thing I hope for is a glossary at some point so I can make sure I’m pronouncing character names correctly, but other than that personal preference I can’t wait to see what Thoma has in store for Elei in the future. Oops… yes, the story doesn’t end with this one.

This Week’s Read: Rex Rising by Chrystalla Thoma

Rex RisingIn a world where parasites create new human races, Elei leads a peaceful life — until a mysterious attack on his boss sends him fleeing with a bullet in his side. Pursued for a secret he does not possess and with the fleet at his heels, he has but one thought: to stay alive. His pursuers aren’t inclined to sit down and talk, although that’s not the end of Elei’s troubles. The two powerful parasites inhabiting his body, at a balance until now, choose this moment to bring him down, leaving Elei with no choice but to trust in people he hardly knows. It won’t be long before he realizes he must find out this deadly secret – a secret that might change the fate of his world and everything he has ever known – or die trying.

This book is available in Kindle Format via Amazon.

Author Interview: Kendall Grey

This week,  Inhale author and whale-enthusiast Kendall Grey joins IBRU’s Barbara Walters-in-training, Landra, for one-on-one. Take it away, ladies!

1.) I loved Gavin and Zoe, but found myself constantly wanting to know more about secondary characters like Westbrook (awesome water elemental) and Adriene (the cool best buddy). Will we see more of them in the next books?

Thanks! Gavin and Zoe are my number one faves, but I agree, there are a lot of other fun characters in INHALE to love too. Westbrook makes a brief appearance in the final book in the trilogy. Adriene is in all three books. I love that girl. She’s the perfect best friend: supportive, caring, and always ready for fun. 🙂 Other characters you’ll see again include the villain Scarlet and her mysterious Fyre Elemental buddy, Sinnder. I introduce a couple of new characters in EXHALE (book 2) and several more in JUST BREATHE (book 3). I plan to write an offshoot book about one of the side characters after I finish the trilogy. 🙂

2.) At the beginning of the book it’s mentioned that all profits will go to whale education programs, is that right? Well call me silly, but don’t authors usually publish books to make a profit for themselves? What sparked this idea and do you get to decide which programs get the money? (This is such a loaded question).

Yes, all the profits from the sale of the JUST BREATHE trilogy will go to programs that educate people about whales. I don’t need the money. Whales do.

Whales are my passion. When I’m not writing, I do presentations at public schools and talk to kids about whales and the challenges they face. I can’t imagine doing anything else with whatever money I make. I’ve got a group targeted for donation, but I don’t want to say who until I work out a few details with them. Details coming soon!

3.) The story and world you’ve created is extremely interesting, but it took me just a bit to get familiar with the different phrasings and descriptions for humans and elementals. Can you offer future readers the simplistic way to remember the differences or maybe a crash course in Just Breathe terminology?

There’s actually a glossary located at that contains world-building and whale terms. I included the link in the “Notes” section just before the prologue, but I don’t think many people noticed it because several have said the same thing about the teriminology. I’ve decided to include the entire glossary (not just a link) in the next two books. Live and learn!

4.) What do you want readers to take away from the this book and the remaining stories in the Just Breathe triology?

More than anything, I want readers to be entertained and to feel that they got their money’s worth. But I also hope readers will take away an appreciation for whales. So many of the events that happen in the JUST BREATHE trilogy are based on real experiences I’ve personally had with whales. I hope those parts come across as “real” to readers and that they feel the emotion I did when I lived those experiences. I tried not to be preachy and just let the whales speak for themselves. 🙂

5.) And finally, what Cate and I are so desperate to know, when does the next book come out?

EXHALE (book 2) is scheduled for release on June 5, and JUST BREATHE, the final book in the trilogy, comes out July 10. That’s assuming I can finish it by then. HA!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, ladies. This was fun!

Thank YOU, Kendall!

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Review: Inhale – Landra’s Take

Rating: Yay!

Love is a transcending emotion, crossing dozens of barriers—for Dr. Zoe Morgan it’s true, she loves whales and is slowly falling for the man haunting her dreams. She calls him Perfect because naturally he is there for her whenever she needs him, and willing to give her whatever she wants. When Zoe’s dream lover suddenly requests her help in a coming battle that’s more than a simple nightmare she can’t resist returning the favor.

For Gavin Cassidy, rock star and Sentinel protector of the Dreaming, Zoe is his muse. Of course he comes when she needs him, it’s his job to protect and discover her purpose. He’s just as affected by Zoe physically as he is bound to watch over her. With the battle set to begin, and Zoe holding a key component, Gavin is doing his best to keep his personal feelings out of the mix. Either way saving the day or losing means they can’t be together.

Alright, so my little synopsis is more about the romance then the action, but romance took up a huge chunk of this book. The wonderful thing is Grey magically weaves the action in and around the romance. It’s a wild ride with music, parties, battles, and plenty of vibrancy!  The world Grey has created is engaging and holds a bit of personal desire for me because who wouldn’t want to be able to wield one of the four elements?  I think it would be awesome!

The characters of Gavin and Zoe are well developed, and in fact the whole cast is interesting. I know that a book is worth reading when I love all the characters, this is one of those stories! Villains are devious to the core, especially Scarlett and Sinnder. I honestly wanted to pummel Scarlett’s face in a couple of times; for a Fyre elemental she sure can inspire some rage. Essentially each character’s element is brought forth when you read about them.

A couple things to point this book involves some head hopping, but transitions are seamless. The most challenging part is getting comfortable with the Grey’s Just Breathe terminology. Everything is explained at the beginning but it doesn’t hurt to have the dictionary for the terminology on Grey’s website saved to favorites. Another caught off guard moment is the amount of profanity. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of cursing, and I don’t think Grey has overdone anything. Her characters love to use words appropriately, but for those not accustomed here is a fair warning. The profanity doesn’t detract from the reading in the least. It’s a part of the experience.

Overall, Inhale is a refreshing urban fantasy that takes a course away from the typical fare of shifters, vampires, angels, etc. available. If you want something new, that will keep you up all night, and put a gorgeous face with a voice from Oz in your head then Inhale is the one to buy!

Review: Inhale – Cate’s Take

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: Yay!


Inhale is a beautiful story about love and fate wrapped up in dreams come true and topped off with a hot bow of luvst (that fun stage between lust and love) to tie it all together.

Can you fall in love with a dream? Zoe Morgan did. First, her lifelong dream to work with whales that led her to the Cetacean Research Network, and then her encounters with her dream man, whom she deems Mr. Perfect, a hardbodied Aussie rockstar named Gavin Cassidy in real life.

Meanwhile, Gavin, lead singer of popular Australian rock band Just Breathe, is dealing with his demons, namely a Fyre elemental called Scarlett. As a Sentinel, his duty is to protect the Wyldlings (regular humans) from Elementals like Scarlett while they dream and to try to restore the Balance of Elements—fire, earth, water, and air. Unfortunately, Fyres like Scarlett are overrunning the Dreaming, causing people to die and go nuts in the real world. Only with Zoe’s help can Gavin hope to set things right.

Inhale follows Gavin, Zoe and Scarlett through the craziness that is the Dreaming and real life. Though a bit confusing in the beginning, with everything concerning the Dreaming, Realis (reality), and the Veil separating the two, along with the Elementals and their power struggle, the book is well worth diving into. Grey gives us an impressive mythology to inform her Australian setting.  With a diverse group of main and secondary characters, Inhale becomes a story with a life of its own.  Love, lust, betrayal, intrigue, and a Prophecy? Yes please.

Grey’s writing is strong, fluid. Each point of view she provides has his/her own style of narrating, so it doesn’t feel like you’re reading a story from a master narrator. It’s apparent that each character has been crafted with love and care, even the villains. From Yileen, the mentor to Sentinel Gavin, to Zoe’s BFF Adriene, to the elemental hierarchy, Scarlett, and her cohort Sinnder, Grey’s given us a world that’s not only imaginable, but likely. At least this would explain all those effed up dreams I have…

I would strongly urge fans of any kind of urban fantasy to pick up this book.


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