I’m proud to be hosting my Triberr buddy Meradeth Houston today as part of her Chemistry of Fate Blog Tour. For my fellow geeks and sci fi fans, Meradeth is a writer and a scientist and I am thrilled she penned a wonderful piece on science in writing. Take it away Meradeth.
Science in Writing
Thanks so much for hosting me! I thought I’d talk a little bit about using science in writing. Not scientific writing (trust me, that’s way too dry!), but using bits of science in coming up with a story. Not just science fiction either, but any kind of fiction that uses some kind of scientific reference. I regularly do this, and my newest release, The Chemistry of Fate, is no exception J.
Okay, so why this topic? Well, mainly because by day, I am a scientist. Technically I’m a molecular anthropologist, but mostly I just tell people I sequence dead people’s DNA. Usually really, really dead people from thousands of years ago. So, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about anthropology, history, chemistry, biology, and a whole lot of other –ologies that I won’t bore you with. To say I like science would be a bit of an understatement.
Anyhow, with this as my day-job, it’s hard for it to not get added into my writing. Like in The Chemistry of Fate, Tom and Ari meet in his chemistry class and get to know one another studying. Tom also works in a lab that is a lot like the lab I worked before I moved to teach in Montana. I try to keep the details to a minimum so I don’t bore the daylights out of everyone, but a few little ones are there to keep it real.
The only real problem with being a scientist in my “normal” life is that I do admittedly have a lower, let’s say, tolerance for some kinds of science-y mistakes in books and movies. While I’m not about to say everyone should be perfect, but some blatant errors make me cringe. Generally, my rule of thumb when referencing a topic I’m not an expert in is to keep the handling of it general. For example, if you’ve never worked in a lab and haven’t read a ton about it, it’s probably better not to try and describe the sounds the machines make (I Am Legend does this and my co-workers had an absolute field day making fun of it). While little details can really make a scene come to life, wrong details don’t help!
Of course, other than reading, reaching out to someone who does know a lot about a certain subject you want to incorporate can really help. A polite and quick email to a researcher in any field usually sparks more interest than irritation. I know that when I started using lasers in one of my novels, I asked my physicist-in-residence (hubby) all about them, and that was totally helpful! That being said, does anyone have any anthropology or genetics questions?
“They are everywhere, can be anyone, and are always the last person you’d expect.” When Tom stumbles across his grandfather’s journal, he’s convinced the old man was crazier than he thought. The book contains references to beings called the Sary, immortals who are assigned to save humans on the verge of suicide. They certainly aren’t allowed to fall in love with mortals. Which the journal claims Tom’s grandfather did, resulting in his expulsion from the Sary. As strange as the journal seems, Tom can’t get the stories out of his head; especially when he finds the photo of his grandfather’s wings.
Tom’s only distraction is Ari, the girl he studies with for their chemistry class.
Ari has one goal when she arrives in town: see how much Tom knows about the Sary and neutralize the situation. This isn’t a normal job, but protecting the secrecy of the Sary is vital. If Tom is a threat to exposing the Sary to the public, fate has a way of taking care of the situation, usually ending with the mortal’s death. While Ari spends time with Tom, he becomes more than just an assignment, but how far can a relationship go when she can’t tell him who she really is? When she finds out just how much Tom actually knows about the Sary, Ari is forced to choose between her wings, and her heart.
THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE is a companion to COLORS LIKE MEMORIES and is set before the latter takes place. It is geared toward an upper YA, or New Adult audience.
I’m holding a giveaway that’s tour-wide, in addition to any that might be going on at individual sites. It’s for a really nice leather journal, which fits with the story , and a $10 Amazon gift card. The link for the rafflecopter is below for anyone who would like to add it to your post.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
- She’s a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.
- When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
- She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It’s her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
- If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.