A PLACE UNMADE by Carla Seyler
A PLACE UNMADE by Carla Seyler
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Big Thrill Discusses A PLACE UNMADE with Carla Seyler

Book Cover: A PLACE UNMADEValentina Sorelli is a part-time graduate student and full-time marketing director of a community park in New Orleans. Jack Stillman is a corporate executive who hijacks his company’s research for personal gain, and he doesn’t care about the consequences. Their separate paths intersect when Valentina meets Jack’s son Sam, who becomes the link between the worlds of scientific discovery and corporate espionage.

As the story unfolds, Valentina and her classmates unite to try to stop Jack. They get a little help from a corporate whistleblower as well as the FBI. Valentina’s friendship with one of her classmates evolves into something more as they fight for their lives. A PLACE UNMADE takes the reader on a provocative journey into the dangers lurking in our decreasing lack of biodiversity and patentable genetics.

Carla Seyler recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her science thriller, A PLACE UNMADE.

Author Photo: Carla Seyler

Carla Seyler

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

The idea for this book came from an article written in 2019 by Dan Barber and published in the New York Times, called “Save Our Food. Free the Seed.” I was shocked at the vulnerability of our food supply and did a deep dive into the science backing up this claim. After a lot of research (see a list of my resources page on my website), I found a way to tell the story in a way that I hope raises awareness in an entertaining way.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

My protagonist, Valentina Sorelli, evolved over time to become the main character. Originally I planned a more in depth look at the cultural influences, e.g. her Sicilian family and New Orleans. I had bigger plans for her grandmother, Mia. But telling the story took precedent, and there wasn’t as much room for them as I originally planned. The ethical dilemmas raised by global agriculture and our societal vulnerability became more important. I wanted to make the ideas accessible. Seeing these issues through the eyes of a young, part time graduate student seemed the best way to accomplish that.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

I didn’t realize it would take two years to write it and one year to edit. The subject was so compelling I never minded the time it required, just surprised.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

We need to appreciate the small players, such as individual (non-corporate) farmers, small seed companies, seed banks, and those growing native plants, for the important role they play in our defense against potential environmental disaster.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

My next book is about a woman who is a purchasing and logistics manager for a Louisiana oil field supplier. During a vacation to Mexico, she is swept up in a high stakes standoff between smugglers and the world of offshore exploration, dangerous in its own right.


Carla Seyler worked for years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, when sometimes the truth was stranger than fiction. This is Carla’s first novel, an imaginary disaster story that easily could be true. She is a native of New Orleans, a place that has been unmade by disasters both natural and engineered, but one that offers a master class in grace, patience, resilience, and joy. Carla lives in New Orleans with her husband and has two independent daughters.

To learn more about the author, please visit her website.