Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Real Deal About Epidemics and Their Cures

The medical or science thriller almost always has a ticking time bomb in the form of disease and a fight to cure it. From The Andromeda Strain to Outbreak to Contagion, the fight against the disease frequently becomes almost secondary to the conflict between those seeking to benefit, either from the disease itself or from its cure. In some cases, both.

This week's Bio World Today explains how the ebola crisis has been and continues to be handled is exemplary of how we respond to epidemics in general.

May your next medical or science thriller benefit from a dose of authenticity.




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Five Places to Go Before...A Volcano Erupts (Again)


A ticking time bomb is an invaluable element for increasing the page-turning factor in your mystery or thriller. What better way to incorporate a ticking time bomb than to set the novel in a location that's about to disappear? This post marks the inauguration of the "Five Places to Go Before..." series, which will highlight locations on the verge of extinction. Incorporate one into your thriller to up the stakes just that much higher.

Pasto, Columbia
The Las Lajas Sanctuary is a spectacular cathedral built into the side of a gloriously green mountain. But it might not be around forever, because Mt. Galeras sits right above it. See this architectural wonder in person before it is destroyed!

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Pasto, Columbia
Saint Pierre, Caribbean
Once known as "The Paris of the Caribbean," St. Pierre has already been completely obliterated once by Mount Pelee. Much of the old city has been rebuilt, so come see this lovely French community before it is gone once again.

 Pompeii and Herculaneum, Italy
Of course, this list would not be complete without the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum - the ticking time bomb in my novel, The Vesuvius Isotope. Another eruption of Mount Vesuvius is long overdue, and these priceless sites might not survive the next one. I love the image in this fresco from Pompeii showing Mount Vesuvius covered in green - sort of like Mount Pelee above...yikes!
Fresco of Mount Vesuvius From Pompeii
Shimbara, Japan
This glistening white castle is just one of a series of similarly constructed beautiful castles in Japan - but it might be the one most in danger. Looming above the castle is the active Mount Unzen, just one of Japan's dangerous volcanoes.

Photo credit: Commons.wikimedia.org Santuario Nacional de Las Lajas by GameofLight is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

 Seattle, Washington
Although quite a distance from Mount Rainier, Seattle lies in the path of destruction should the volcano erupt with sufficient force. It is expected that lava flow from a major eruption would pour right into the downtown area. And then, you'd be confined to the space needle replica in Las Vegas. The horror! See the real one when you can.
The impending eruption of Mount Vesuvius lends a ticking time bomb to the action in The Vesuvius Isotope, the best-selling debut novel by Kristen Elise. Buy The Vesuvius Isotope on Amazon.


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 increasingly pervaded his behavior in recent weeks. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the esoteric 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, introducing it into the twenty-first century.

Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children.