Eagerly anticipating Santa – or the Three Kings – slipping a copy of her new stand-alone fantasy novel Arakzeon City – Wiccor Princess Reborn in their stockings, T. M. Caruana’s fanship can meanwhile enjoy the second installment in the Science Series heptalogy, after they were left fretting for the destiny of the universe, in the cliffhanger ending of Symmetry.
In Chromosomica, the plot hits the ground running when sorceress-in-training Lucia/Lucy and her dog-turned-guardian-angel narrowly escape an awkward marriage proposal within a Mafia feud in lemony Sicily. She flees to Britain to attend university, where she warms to the ‘4 H’ roommates (four students whose names all begin by the letter H), just to be abducted and tossed in the gladiators’ arena. Here, she meets handsome Nick who might as well be the love of her life, if they weren’t the children of sworn enemies Tarus and Noah respectively, both with strong connections to divine protagonist Susy, whose rescue Lucy is tasked with, lost in a family-tree hall of mirrors where the truth is manifold and ever doubtable.
While Symmetry (now in its second edition with a new professionally designed cover featuring the key and stones that are the saga’s very symbol) is based on Susy’s creation of balance in life, here the title – with the subtitle Energy – derives from the supernatural make-up of Susy’s DNA, whose chromosomes are arranged in a ‘utopian ecosystem’, so that her blood, in conjunction with the power stones, enables her power of creation of energy and mass throughout the Seven Worlds.
Readers will ricochet from location to location and will meet a whirlwind of characters from the very first page of this page-turner, from the scorching heat of fights to the death reminiscent of the dystopian scenario described in Suzanne Collins’ young-adult blockbuster The Hunger Games to the frozen winter not-wonderland of a faraway planet where the seemingly hostile Oracle dwells; leap after leap, set change after set change, they will follow Lucy’s pledge to oblige to the underlining message that love conquers all. “If we are kind to every individual, no matter their background, we will be happier,” the authoress explains. “The purpose and circle of life are not to be tampered with, but rather be accepted as they are and will be.” ‘Everything turns out as it should in the end’ is the motto here, together with an environmentalist subtext: “Everything weighs in the perfect balance where we need to care for life and the resources on Earth because they are precious.”
Feistier and ‘angrier’ than Susy because of her childhood spent in semi-slavery of evil-despite-her-namesake enchantress Eutychia, flame-haired emerald-eyed Lucy is a likeable character embodying the existential crisis of Millennial girls entering the perilous adult world. Therese describes her as the ‘suffer-in-silence’ type who is content being by herself, but angry at the world: “She doesn’t want anyone to dictate her life. She wants to seek the right answers but she struggles in assessing what ‘the right choice’ is when everyone in the world is so different and want different things. She only makes informed decisions and she only acts in pursuance of a known cause. This is why she doesn’t like the situation in ‘Chromosomica’, where she finds herself with no other choice than trusting someone she doesn’t know and whose motive is not clear.”
Therese’s symmetrical cosmology has been devised through a meticulous attention for the number seven, recurring in the number of rulers, continents and mystical stones pivotal to the story. “I try to portray all types of people from the seven continents yet distancing them from our world’s interpretation, as mine is supposed to be a unique fantasy experience to extend our minds beyond reality,” she explains. “When I write about a place, I choose locations where I have been myself to make the description as truthful as possible, but I also use cinematic and photographic recollections for places I haven’t been able to travel to. Places, objects and back stories always have significance within the plot but nothing relates to my private life.”
Presently, she is polishing the third book in the series, Incipient Cipher, in which Lucy searches for the person that will help her piece up the puzzle. “Lucy is still seeking for the truth about the grander purpose. She will learn more about the seven worlds and how to keep the inhabitants safe and energised. Again, she will have to go on a quest to seek the long-buried ‘Grimoar’, which will clarify who her allies are and reveal their true motives while also decipher Susy’s mysteries.”
Therese, a keen supporter of science, physics and Morgan Freeman’s show Through the wormhole, claims that magic doesn’t exist as such but it is ‘an apparently unexplainable power that over-performs when compared to other individuals in the same realm’. “This means that there are special ways of using the forces, herbs, materials that already exist within the parameters of the seven worlds, towards the ability to make something appear from nothing, alter the structure of an item or change a view in someone’s eyes or mind, which might look like magic to outsiders.” She declares her inspiration for supernatural abilities and superhero bravery mainly coming from Marvel Comics and DC Comics but also from similar films and from reading, especially local husband-and-wife duo Stephanie and Lee Dignam’s prolific production, taking the USA by storm under the penname Katerina Martinez. Of course Therese is a fan of Stephenie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, E. L. James, Lexi C. Foss, Deborah Harkness, planning to soon tuck into Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi classics.
A busy working mum, Therese always makes time both for her writing and for date nights with her husband: “I use time to make time. I take time to plan. If you have a plan, your daily routine is executed more efficiently than if you have to stop and think of what you’re supposed to do next.” To her, the writing bug means ‘freedom and adventure’: “When I write, it feels like I become a part of the story so that when I die, I will have lived a thousand lives.”
And how does she keep tabs on her complex cosmology and small army of characters? “I have an app to record their traits and appearances so they are easily consistent. The problem is to tie all the loose ends before and by the words ‘the end’. I have left out a lot of information or comments deliberately, with the intention to link them to a later event and I must now ensure I can sew them all into place. Also, if I set a rule or restriction in the beginning of the series, I have to ensure I apply it all the way through. I believe an interesting part of the story is the worlds and their people. They have different abilities, which are compliant or non-compliant with other worlds. The other aspect to look forward to is the small puzzle pieces of the full story that every book in the series has to reveal.”
She is currently working on a fictional drama under the working title of Food Frenzy, so watch out for news in her website tmcaruana.com.