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2020 debuts: A quick interview with Chris Panatier (The Phlebotomist)

It's been a hell of a year. We know it's been tough for some to keep reading, with so much real-world stuff going on. We also know it's been tricky for those authors launching their beloved stories into this chaos - especially those doing it for the first time.

So in an effort to show support for 2020 debuts during the OcTBR Challenge, we'll be showcasing a few quick interviews with some of our favourites. First up is the wonderful Chris Panatier, author of The Phlebotomist (Angry Robot) which has been described as "fun dystopian" and honestly more than lives up to that billing (it's great, go check it out)...

The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier
The Phlebotomist - look how pink it is!

1. Hi Chris. You’re in an elevator chatting with your favourite film director and they ask what your book’s about. What’s your single line pitch to get them interested?

Oh I despise you for asking this, The Hardest Question You Can Ask an Author About Their Book, but here goes: "Nineteen Eighty-Four except society is segregated by blood type, plus Thelma & Louise."

2. Who’s your protagonist and why did you enjoy writing about them?

My protagonist is actually a grandmother named Willa Mae Wallace. I enjoyed writing her because she is someone with decades of knowledge and experience that is, in the near future time period of this book, totally obsolete. Or at least she thinks it is. I loved being able to feature an older protagonist who has the potential to be the hero not in spite of her age, but because of it.

3. If your protagonist had a favourite story, what would it be?

Willa's favorite story. Well, she has a grandson named Isaiah, and her whole world revolves around him. So I think it would be something that they read together that helps them escape the dystopian world they live in--but also something she would have read as a young person. The Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor. Extra points for being one of my favorites as well.

4. Someone enjoyed a book and their friend says “well if you loved that, you’ll really love The Phlebotomist!”. What’s the book and why will its fans enjoy yours?

Great question! So, The Phlebotomist crosses a few genres here, and to name some books that are too directly on point might serve to spoil. So I'll say that fans of Margaret Atwood, Chuck Wendig, and Justin Cronin might enjoy it. I kind of cheated and didn't name any books.

5. What’s on your current TBR pile that you’re most excited to read and why?

Current TBR is growing and growing. I could go on forever. Here are a few: The Quantum Garden by Derek Kunsken--I killed the first in this series in a few days and just loved it; The next Murderbot by Martha Wells (Exit Strategy), because who doesn't love Murderbot; Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir; A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine; and Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi. Just to name a few. I seriously need to be able to stop time so I can catch up.

Thanks so much to Chris for taking the time to chat to us!

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