Friday, 19 October 2012
Bio Punk: Stories from the far side of research
Bio Punk is an anthology of stories, commissioned by Comma Press, from established and emerging writers. The premise of each story is for writers to partner up with scientists or ethicists at the cutting edge of their field of research. They get together and the scientist shares aspects of their work with the writer. The writer then goes away and creates a story based on factual information about that particular area of scientific research. Each story is carefully checked and followed in the book with an afterword by the partner scientist to verify the content of the story. It's a dynamic, stimulating idea, bringing perceived disparate subjects, literature and science, into close quarters. Bio Punk is the third and final book using this scientific collaboration, following on from When it Changed and Litmus. Having admired both these titles and their premise, it was an honour to be commissioned for this one.
Dr Angharad Watson, (or 'my scientist' as I affectionately claim her in my head) has been a brilliant collaborator in this project. We met up at her laboratory and I couldn't make notes quickly enough. She is really inspiring, and her passion for her work is infectious. The 'what if...' questions just kept coming and Angharad was fantastic at answering them. Our particular area of discussion was over-the-counter remedies; the stuff you can buy in chemists or supermarkets without a prescription or consultation and that doesn't have to go through any clinical trials but can still be marketed as having medicinal benefits. The story, 'Shake me and I Rattle', came out of this.
Bio Punk was launched last week as part of the Manchester Literature Festival, with readings from authors Jane Feaver and Gregory Norminton, and scientist collaborators Dr Melissa Baxter and Dr Nihal Engin Vrana on Skype link. Well done, and many thanks, to the Comma Press team, especially Ra Page; a brilliantly encouraging and perceptive editor to work with.
To purchase your very own, gorgeous copy of Bio Punk, click here.