This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1)
By: Emily Suvada
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
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?
I rewrote THIS MORTAL COIL, cover-to-cover, about three times. (I’m currently on the third rewrite of the sequel – it’s just how I write, I guess? Why am I like this?) A LOT of scenes, characters, and ideas got scrapped along the way, and while some have made their way into the sequel, or have been put aside for future stories, there are definitely elements which won’t see the light of day. Here are five insights you won’t get from the final draft of THIS MORTAL COIL:
- The first two chapters of the book were originally flipped – the story started before the outbreak, and then took us forward in time. My agent suggested flipping the chapters to plunge the reader straight into the world after the outbreak, and it was a brilliant idea! Dropping the reader right into Cat’s desperate, frightening world ended up being a much more engaging entrance to the story.
- Catarina is an amateur scientist, and one of the key elements of the story is the virus’s evolution. In a previous draft, I wrote a scene where Cat is studying a sample of the virus to track how it evolved. This is a virus that detonates inside human cells, turning people into clouds of infectious mist, so studying its evolution is a dangerous pastime! The scene showed us more of Cat’s home laboratory, including some hand-built equipment she made from scraps salvaged from the nearby town. (This scene might pop up online for readers with a keen eye for secret messages… )
- In a previous version, there was an extra chapter in the opening scenes, where Cat rides into town on her bike and visits a local trading outpost on her way to Agnes’s house. This showed us more of the world, but slowed down the pace too much, so it was cut. Here’s a little insight into the town that she lived near:
“The bike groans as I weave between the trees, racing down a foot-wide dirt path that cuts behind the town. There used to be a thousand-odd people living here, supported by the tourists coming to see Mt Rushmore, but it was down to twenty last time Agnes and I counted. A handful of stubborn families stayed, clinging to their land, including a hairdresser who runs the local market, and an ex-marine who lives in a tank. The main street looks like a war zone. The hotels and gift shops are boarded up, and burnt-out cars lie stacked across the road. They make it hard to get around, but they stop Cartaxus’s patrols from coming out here.”
- Cat and Cole originally stopped at an abandoned house beside a lake at around the ~40% mark of the book, to gather supplies and figure out what to do next. Cat changed into a yellow dress she found in the house, and Cole made them both hot chocolate, and they talked about his past. It was a nice scene, but it slowed down the pace and sense of movement. Now, the two of them just sleep in their jeep beside the road, to keep them moving!
- In the original draft, there was a weapon called “Clover” which we may see later on. I haven’t decided yet. It’s a bright green gas that can be released from a vial worn like a pendant around your neck, that releases an extremely strong version of “the scent”. This is the scent that infected people release, and it has a very specific effect on those who smell it. You’ll need to read the book to figure out what effect this weapon might have on a crowd!
Thanks so much for having me, and I hope you enjoy THIS MORTAL COIL!
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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