Welcome to Let’s Get Lit on Pure Fandom, where we chat with an author about their work, writing and their nerdy loves. In this edition of Let’s Get Lit, we chatted with Joanna Evans about her new novel, SINAI UNHINGED, a medical thriller that you will absolutely love.
Pure Fandom: Congratulations on your book launch! Tell us a little about it!
Joanna Evans: Thank you so much for having me! I’m really excited to share SINAI UNHINGED with you! Well, the blurb is as follows:
Lethal mistakes during a secret experiment drive scientists insane and plunge their therapist into a frightening search for the truth—and a dangerous fight for her life.
As the cries of a volatile patient in the psychiatric ward of Sinai General haunt therapist Alexandra Kraig, she realizes something terrifying has happened at the Complex. Mistakes have occurred there, mistakes that have changed him. When Alex’s closest friend, also a scientist at the Complex, develops deeply disturbing behavior, she becomes determined to uncover the truth about the particle physics experiment hidden deep within the Complex walls, a project her missing father warned against many years before.
With her friend on the brink of madness, Alex resurrects her father’s research, infiltrates the Complex and races to halt the experiment’s destructive force. A dark element has another plan, hijacking the system, intensifying an already looming catastrophe, and propelling the Complex toward implosion. Battling the enemy and the machine, Alex faces a ticking clock as she struggles to find the answer buried somewhere in her father’s secrets; an answer she desperately needs if she is to save her own life, and the lives of thousands more.
But, what is SINAI UNHINGED really about? The unity and connectedness that we all share. The huge magnitude of “evil” energy soaring around the globe right now is, ultimately, only destructive to one’s self, and one’s soul.
Many people are already aware of the teachings of, say, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer or Deepak Chopra. I wanted to create a story that was exciting, attention-getting and illustrated how unified all of humanity really is in order to reach a fresh audience that might not already be as in tune to those principles.
Being that this is set in a hospital with a lot of science weaved throughout the story, what kind of research went into creating your story?
A lot! I have a Masters in Social Work; math terrifies me. Yet, the story needed to be set in a particle physics research complex. So, what did I do? Of course, I emailed CERN and was completely blown away when they took my inquiry seriously! It’s amazing the help that will arrive when the timing is right.
I was connected to John Huth, Ph.D. an amazing physicist and the Donner Professor of Science at Harvard. He was so incredibly helpful and gracious and informative and responsive and I could go on and on and on. If the setting for SINAI UNHINGED is the least bit realistic, it’s because of him.
Yet, I still had a delicate job to do. I had to put enough science in the book to make it plausible, yet not so much that people were turned off. I’ve always been a huge fan of Michael Crichton and Dean Koontz and I had those authors in mind when I was trying to figure out how much of what principle to throw in.
Some people may think there is too much science, but I actually cut out a great deal of it as it ended up bogging down the plot. It’s kind of ridiculous how much science I cut out, like I should not even know this stuff …
The psychiatric hospital and the mental health pieces were certainly more natural to me as my day job is as a psychotherapist.
That’s so cool! What are you reading right now?
I certainly read my fair share of fiction, but also a lot of non-fiction which may tie into the earlier question about research. I think the seed for writing this book may have been, at least in part, planted by a book called The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav (also author of The Seat of the Soul).
I believe you have to read weird things if you want to write weird things. So, my current stack of books consists of Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigation into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis by Annie Jacobsen, The Day After Roswell by Col. Philip J. Corso and The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker.
What would you say is the most important aspect or personality trait of your main character, Alex?
Alex makes me think, “What if Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a psychotherapist?” She’s thrown into situations that she absolutely doesn’t want to be in but, despite that, she’s driven to do the right thing and to help other people, even though she often questions if it’s all really worth it.
We LOVE Buffy! Speaking of TV, we have all been watching a lot of TV these days. What TV show/movie do you geek out over?
I think I’ve seen every Ancient Aliens episode and most things with “Bigfoot” in the title. I love the Josh Gates shows Expedition Unknown and Destination Truth. I also like the Dead Files, but when Amy Allan starts talking about demons, it’s too scary for me! Is it true that truth is stranger than fiction?
Currently, I am grieving a slow death because Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming to an end. I’m terribly sad about this. I hate to think about characters I like exiting my life. I remember when the show started; it seemed like almost every year it was about to get cancelled, then got renewed. Coulson has died about 17 times and returned again; might they do that with S.H.I.E.L.D?
I do suppose all good things must come to an end, but I will miss Coulson and Agent May and Mack the most … Sometimes I hesitate to “get into” shows because it seems like I picked the ones that get canceled early. I don’t know if anybody remembers Alien Nation from the late 1980s? My fav’–cancelled. I wonder if I can find reruns; the themes of that show are certainly relevant today.
We love that show! What advice would you give to writers out there?
These may not be original pieces of advice but I would say work hard and practice your craft. Learn the nuances of storytelling. Take feedback and don’t argue when somebody suggests to change this or that. You don’t have to do it, but at least pause to consider what their point is and why they’re suggesting it. You could reap the benefits of your story blossoming.
I would also say don’t give up. Learn from all rejections, change when you can and then move forward. The only way to fail is to stop trying. No might really mean, “Not yet.”
Where can we find your book?
SINAI UNHINGED is available on Amazon at present and should be available through Ingram as well. It was just released August 5, so I’ll soon be working to get it into bookstores. You can also read more about it on Goodreads and Bookbub.