Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Death Row Complex - A Thriller Twelve Years in the Making

Tis a happy day for me, as The Death Row Complex has finally arrived! At long last, you may download the Kindle version (discounted this month in honor of the launch!), order a paperback from Amazon, or purchase a signed copy from me. Finally.

Now, I'm sure that the launch of a new book doesn't seem like a big deal to most of you. But it's a big deal for me, because I started writing this book twelve years ago. The Death Row Complex is older than Facebook. Let that sink in for a minute.

There's a story about the genesis of this book, so I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell it...

Twelve years ago, I was a postdoctoral fellow, which is scienctific jargon for overeducated indentured servant. I was working on finding a molecule that could block an anthrax infection (because what's the best thing to give a disgruntled scientist? A biological weapon, of course!) While doing this work, I stumbled upon a molecule that activated anthrax instead of blocking it. This was not too long after 9/11 and the Amerithrax incident, and it made me ponder the possibilities of what could happen if the dangerous technologies of the world fell into the wrong hands. And it also made me realize that that's exactly where those technologies already are.

Right around that same time, twelve years ago, my friend Sara McBride was writing a story. She dared me to do the same. That was reason enough for me.

But then something happened... I started writing, and I really, really liked it! I liked it enough, in fact, that I became rather obsessed with the creation of this story. So much so that I stopped wanting to do anything else with my free time, for a while.

But then something else happened. Writing got hard. I discovered this new phenomenon called "writer's block," which I was pretty sure nobody else had ever experienced prior to myself. So I put the book down... sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks... and worked on it on and off for the next five years.

Then I got the idea for The Vesuvius Isotope, and I decided I wanted to publish Vesuvius first. I wanted Death Row to be released later as a prequel, and so, poor Death Row had to wait, again.

So here, at long last, is my first second thriller, The Death Row Complex. Please feel free to read an excerpt, or purchase the novel at one of the links above. And if you're so inclined, please feel free to leave a review on Amazon when you're done. I'd love it if you did.

There is a third Katrina Stone novel in the works at this time. It is a sequel to The Vesuvius Isotope, and it returns to the historical thriller theme. I promise not to take twelve years to publish it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Interview on Crimefiction.fm: Katrina Stone, San Diego, and Being a Scientist/Author

Do you like to read ‪#‎crimefiction‬? If so, check out crimefiction.fm, an excellent podcast by Stephen Campbell. Steve interviews authors in all kinds of ‪#‎mystery‬‪#‎thriller‬, and ‪#‎suspense‬ genres, including, this morning, me. Give a listen to hear our short discussion about the Katrina Stone novels, the genres in general, and some of the funny things that happen to scientists who write books.



And, if you're an author, do yourself and your career a huge favor and check out The Author Biz podcast, another podcast run by Steve. In this one, he interviews the biggest and most successful players in the book business, who share their secrets for how they came to be that way. 


Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.




Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Buried Books of Herculaneum Part 2

Map of the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum
"The Villa of the Papyri is unfinished business. In consideration of the immense income from Vesuvian sites, excavators have considerable margin of choice. Their priorities could extend to completion of the excavation of the Villa of the Papyri, halted largely due to piranha-like demands for payment for expropropriated lands."


- Judith Harris, Pompeii Awakened

In Part I of the Buried Books of Herculaneum mystery, we presented the following question: Why was the Villa dei Papyri never fully excavated? The villa is prominently off limits to this day. To answer this mystery, we must travel back in time to the year 1709: the year the Villa dei Papyri was rediscovered after nearly two thousand years beneath the ash.

In 1709, Naples and surrounding regions were under Austrian rule. Like so many of the world’s most amazing discoveries, the lost city of Herculaneum was rediscovered by accident. While digging a well, a feat accomplished in 1709 by leading a heavily yoked ox in a circle, a farmer began unearthing marble.

Map of Herculaneum ruins; Villa dei Papiri is closed off
The farmer began selling the fragments, and one of his earliest prospective customers was Emanuel d’Elboeuf, the French prince commanding the Austrian cavalry. Eager to complete his own summer residence, the task that had brought him to shop for marble in the first place, d’Elboeuf confiscated the poor farmer’s well on behalf of the Austrian government. He began digging in earnest, and three female statues were unearthed. They were quickly followed by a statue of Cleopatra. The statues were claimed as property of the Austrian government and placed in the king’s garden in Vienna.

D’Elboeuf and his workers pillaged the building he had drilled into until it was stripped clean. When the booty was gone, they filled in the holes, and with no interests whatsoever in art, no such field as archeology, and no apparent concept of historical preservation, there were no real records of the find. The story might have stopped right there, had it not been for a succession of women as ambitious as Cleopatra herself.

Continued in Part 3 of The Buried Books of Herculaneum.

This blog post explores a non-fictional theme or locale that is incorporated in The Vesuvius Isotope, the first Katrina Stone novel. Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.




Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California.