Calla Hammond has always been a loner—a product of the foster system and avoided by others because of a skin condition. When doctors discover that her immune system holds the key to curing cancer, she struggles to advance lifesaving research in a world that sees her only as a means to an end. Yet along the way, Calla gains the one thing she has always longed for: a chosen family. But when a group of unscrupulous people joins forces to sell Calla's blood to the highest bidder, she has to dig deep to find the strength to retake control of her life, her body, and her story.
“There’s nothing better than reading a novel that deftly weaves the most pressing issues of the day—the war for control over women's bodies, bigotry, stigma, patriarchy, capitalism—into an engaging and thoroughly human page-turner. Catherine Devore Johnson has managed to do exactly that in her beautiful debut.”
—Emily Wolf, author of My Thirty-First Year (And Other Calamities)
“Calla’s story captivated me until the end. This fast-paced novel brought up so many emotions and made me think about the ways that humankind sucks the marrow out of things that sustain us until those things are gone. This story will stay with me for a long time.” —Tabitha Forney, author of Paper Airplanes
“A beautiful combination of engaging fiction and bitter reality. . . Touching upon complicated emotions, The Panacea Project leaves an unforgettable mark upon its readers.” —Readers’ Favorite
“In an era where medicine and vaccines are hotly debated, this well-written and thoughtful story will inspire both hope and terror about what the futures holds.”
—Editor’s Pick, Publishers Weekly BookLife
“The Panacea Project is both inventive and thoughtful and captures the way in which the scientific search for truth and humanitarian relief can take on an inhumane form.” —Kirkus Indie Review
10 Things You Might Not Know About Catherine Devore Johnson
- I was born in Chicago, Illinois, moved to Springfield, Missouri for a couple of years, and was subsequently raised just outside of Houston, Texas in a sprawling, master-planned community called The Woodlands.
- I ran track at Yale University—the 200-meter dash, the 400-meter dash, and the 4x400 meter relay. It was a great experience, but all of that pounding exacted a toll on my feet and hips, so these days I stick to long walks.
- I drink way too much coffee.
- I used to drink way too much Diet Coke, but have since replaced it with Topo Chico, which I believe to be the best of the sparkling waters. However, during the pandemic-related Topo Chico shortage, I discovered that Jarritos’ Mineragua is a totally acceptable substitute.
- I volunteer with a phenomenal organization called Casa de Esperanza, which provides foster care services to children in need in Houston.
- I love exploring Houston’s restaurants. My hometown is one of the most diverse cities in the United States and has an incredible culinary scene.
- I used to fly (very small) airplanes. After my husband was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago (he recovered!), we decided it was high time to actually do some of the crazy things we had always dreamed about doing. So, I started taking flying lessons at a municipal airport in Sugar Land, Texas. (I should mention that, at the time, I was absolutely terrified of flying, so this also functioned as a form of exposure therapy.) I got far enough in the training to do my solo cross-country flight (just me, a Cessna Skyhawk, and a flight plan that covered a total distance of 150 nautical miles with full-stop landings at 3 different airports). It was hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And, once it was over, one of my proudest moments. I never did get my private pilot license (circumstances and some pesky cardiac issues conspired against me), but the training did help me conquer my fear of flying.
- I was an extra in the farmer’s market scene in the movie “The Lost Husband.” A friend was the director and invited a group of people to come out to Austin for a day of filming. If you can spot me, I do a very convincing job of buying a cup of coffee (see #3 for my qualifications). And I can confirm (from afar) that Josh Duhamel is, in fact, as handsome and charming in person as you might imagine him to be.
- Before my life as a mom and a writer, I was an attorney. I worked in corporate bankruptcy and then as a MUD lawyer (the fancier term would be “municipal finance attorney” but my firm primarily represented special entities called municipal utility districts, or MUDs, and MUD lawyer is way more fun to say, right?).
- I am a card-carrying member of the “sandwich generation.” Five years ago, my mother had two strokes in one week. After several months of intense rehabilitation, she recovered enough to live independently, but she no longer drives and relies on me for a lot of assistance. I’m also a parent of two teenagers and work part-time, so I’ve had to learn how to balance being a caregiver, a parent, a spouse, and an individual with my own ambitions.
About the Author: Catherine Devore Johnson is a former attorney turned writer. Her work has won or placed in competitions held by the Houston Writer’s Guild and the Writer’s League of Texas, and she has published an essay in The Houston Chronicle about caring for her mother after two strokes. She works as a writer and editor at a children's hospital and lives in Houston with her husband and two children. The Panacea Project is her first novel.