Interview with Author Kristen Elise PhD

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

Let’s welcome Kristen Elise!

Thank you so much, Theresa, for inviting me on your blog!

Kris, what is your genre and your intended audience?

My genre is mystery/thriller. While I do distinguish between the two, I think The Vesuvius Isotope is right on the border. It is a definite mystery, and carries a trademark component of a cozy – a strong female protagonist on a quest to solve a murder. However, I would definitely not classify the book overall as a cozy mystery, because I think it’s a bit too involved. There are several interwoven subplots, and both historical and scientific non-fictional themes are incorporated within the murder mystery. The fast pace and transitions between subplots give the story a definite thriller feel. So my intended audience is people who like mysteries and thrillers, who like to be challenged intellectually when they read, and who take their fiction with a healthy tablespoon of non-fiction sprinkled on top.

What are you currently writing?

The Vesuvius Isotope has a prequel in the works, entitled The Death Row Complex. The first draft is written and I hope to release this one in 2014. The Death Row Complex features the same protagonist as The Vesuvius Isotope, drug discovery biologist Katrina Stone, but the prequel takes place eight years prior. One thing I really look forward to revealing in the second novel is a very different side of Katrina. By the time The Vesuvius Isotope takes place, she has been through a series of events that have refined her personality dramatically. In The Death Row Complex, we meet a much younger, much grittier Katrina Stone. A couple of other characters are also featured in both books.

When do you make time to write?

Right now, I don’t! This being the debut month of my debut novel, I’m fairly wrapped up in marketing and publicity efforts at the moment (following months of editing galore.) But I can’t wait to get back to writing. Normally, I try to dedicate at least two or three nights a week and several hours on the weekends. At the moment, however, I’m between day jobs and lucky enough to be at it full time.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

I would have started writing sooner, and on purpose. Writing was something I just stumbled into with absolutely no idea how addicting it would become. Had I realized at a younger age that I have a severe writing problem, and just embraced it, I could have had a dozen books out by now.

I work really hard to maintain a strong platform and online presence, because I firmly believe that you are your own biggest advocate. At the same time, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received in debuting The Vesuvius Isotope online. At the moment, I’m in the midst of a 20-stop blog tour.

But I still believe in face-to-face communication. I am proud to say that I know how to throw an epic party, and I currently have a launch party in planning for the end of July here in San Diego. The party will feature Italian and Egyptian food, drinks, and music, since these are the two main locales where the book is set. I hope to generate some buzz for the novel and I’m certain that the party will be a good time.

Finally, I have been lucky to receive the strong support of several book clubs and bookstores locally in San Diego, and I hope to branch out into other cities in the next few months.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

Perhaps the other way around. The Vesuvius Isotope is partially set in Egypt, and in researching the novel, I traveled there, alone. I had an absolutely wonderful experience and fell in love with Egypt and the Egyptians. I experienced exactly zero of the negatives you hear so rampantly about. And my book-research mission was most successful, to boot.

Then the Arab Spring broke out, just weeks after I came home from my trip. Since then, the unrest has only intensified, and Westerners are more nervous than ever about traveling to a uniquely fascinating country with more than ten thousand years of recorded history. I think this is tragic, and even more so because tourism is the life-blood of Egypt’s fragile economy. So I can definitely sympathize with the Egyptian people, and I continue to advocate for a peaceful solution to their woes.

What would you like to see in your literary community?

The next step. It’s amazing how quickly the writing community is evolving with technologies and economies. The ease of self-publishing. The advances in Internet sales and marketing. The ease of self-publishing. It’s tough to know the current best approaches when the best approaches are always in flux, but it’s also an exciting time. I think writers have so much more control now than ever before.

If there’s one thing I would like to see more of, it’s small, independent bookstores. I am one of those old-fashioned types who still loves the feel of a print book in my hand, although, I admit to also owning a Kindle and using both Kindle and eBooks on my iPhone. And I also wish that my book looked the same on the Kindle and eBooks apps as it looks in print. Technology gurus, I challenge you…

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Back cover blurb for The Vesuvius Isotope:

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.

Please visit Kris’ websites at and

The Vesuvius Isotope is available in both print ( and and e-book formats ( for Kindle, for Nook, for Kobo reader.)