Science Novels, Lab Lit, and Nerd Novels!

Check out all of the amazing novels Charmed Particles got to rub elbows with this weekend at the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts conference!

If you’re interested in #sciencenovels, #lablit, and #nerdnovels, be sure to check out the amazing work of the Fiction Meets Science Program and the new book Under the Literary Microscope: Science and Society in the Contemporary Novel, Edited by Sina Farzin, Susan M. Gaines, and Roslynn D. Haynes

With contributions by Anna Auguscik, Jay Clayton, Carol Colatrella, Sonja Fücker, Raymond Haynes, Luz María Hernández Nieto, Emanuel Herold, Karin Hoepker, Anton Kirchhofer, Antje Kley, Natalie Roxburgh, Uwe Schimank, Sherryl Vint, and Peter Weingart.



Narrative Energy: Novelists on Why, When, and How They Write About Science

Excited to talk about Charmed Particles this weekend at the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts conference, as part of the “Narrative Energy: Novelists on Why, When, and How They Write About Science” panel, along with Laura Otis, Susan M. GainesCatherine Bush, and Edward Schwarzchild!

“Scholar and writer Laura Otis will lead a discussion with four accomplished novelists who write realistic, character-driven fiction about science. They’ll compare their inspirations and motivations, and describe doing the research for their science novels and how it differs from the research they’ve done for other novels. They will consider the unique challenges of writing such books: How do they create empathy for particularly nerdy scientist characters? Does the unfamiliarity of the scientific content influence their choices of narrative point of view? How do they construct plots that are comprised of both intellectual and emotional events? What different sorts of challenges do different fields of science present?

One of the attractions of realistic science novels is that they allow readers to experience and appreciate unfamiliar fields of scientific study. And yet, people read and value novels for their fictional stories, characters, and aesthetics. How do novelists negotiate this conundrum? In what ways do they fictionalize the science to fit their stories, and how do they rationalize this within the novels’ realistic framing? How do they create the narrative energy of their stories using abstruse scientific concepts and practices—and teach readers what they need to know to understand the story from within the story, without being didactic or condescending?”

“Swimming for Shore” Filming in Progress

A few months ago, I met with a filmmaker who wanted to adapt my story “Swimming for Shore” into a short film.

Today he sent me stills from the shoot, and I can’t believe how beautiful they are!

I’m so excited to see the whole project when it’s finished!

The actors playing the lead roles in the film.


Thank you to Gabriel Connelly for the beautiful adaptation, to Crazyhorse Literary Journal for first giving this story a home, and to Robert Shapard and James Thomas for giving the story a second life in their anthology New Sudden Fiction.

If you’d like to read the story, you can check it out here, where it was first published under a slightly different title

Talk on Charmed Particles for the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study #NetIAS


In this talk, originally delivered on Thursday, November 5, 2020,  I discuss the role of borders in “Big Science.” I’ll share excerpts from my novel Charmed Particles and discuss the research I conducted in preparation for writing it. As part of my background research for the book, I worked in the archives at Fermilab (one of the sites under consideration for the SSC), interviewed theoretical particle physicists working at Fermilab at the time of the SSC proposal, and combed through Environmental Impact Statements and transcripts of public hearings to bring voice to both sides of the conflict over the push, in the late 1980s, to find a location in the United States for the proposed (but never completed) Superconducting Super Collider (SSC).

Listen here.

A Quick update from Germany

Hi, friends,

A quick update from the Kolaya/Millers. We are still here in Germany, currently feeling as safe as possible and very well cared for by the remarkable staff of the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (HWK).

Many things are closing, but for now, shops and transport are still in operation; however, it seems likely that within the week, the government will impose a lockdown similar to what we’re seeing in Italy, France, and Spain. For now, though, the grocery stores are still reasonably well stocked, and we have everything we think we might need in the coming weeks.

Brook and I are still working on our book projects, though it’s sometimes challenging to focus with the news changing by the minute and so many heartbreaking stories coming over the wire, but we’re enjoying time with our fellow fellows—smart and interesting and kind folks from all over the world. We’ve been painting together, watching movies, learning German, and experimenting with some creative writing prompts!

As many of you are now experiencing, schools have closed here for at least a month, but the fellow kids have gotten creative! Here’s a pic of the boys and their new friend Kathryn from this morning, ready for the first day of their kid-designed HWK school.

We are thinking of and missing you all—love from all four of us!

Adventures in Germany!

This semester, my husband and I are fellows and writers in residence at the Hanse-Wissenchaftskolleg (HWK) as part of the Fiction Meets Science project.

He’ll be working on a new scholarly book about Cognitive Literary Studies called Narrative and Experience and I’ll be finishing my next novel, a book about a 19th Century naturalist who goes in search of a mysterious creature he learns about from the natives of an island he’s sent to explore.

Our two sons (12 and 13) are attending the Max-Planck Gymnasium here in Delmenhorst, which has been a crash course in German-language immersion for them. Thankfully, there are many kind English-speaking teachers and fellow students to help them along!

I’ve been settling in to work on my book, tentatively titled The Second Voyage of Audley Worthington. It’s been especially dreamy to have an office space devoted only to my writing where I can put up what I like to call my “murder wall”—post-its of all of the dates and timelines and big and little ideas I’m trying to hang onto while writing this book!

Our fellow fellows ;- ) come from all over the world and are studying all sorts of interesting things. Everywhere you turn, there’s someone fascinating to talk to!

We’re especially loving the interdisciplinarity of the HWK. On Wednesday, we went to an outstanding lecture by Kenny Coventry of the University of East Anglia on his research into the way particular words used for spatial concepts work across languages. Later there was a lovely dinner, followed by drinks in the cozy fireplace room, where  Lida Sherafatmand, an Iranian-born artist now working in Malta, drew a portrait of me!

(Review by Ellis: “Wow! That is amazing! But she forgot to put in all your wrinkles.”)

The staff here at the HWK (or Hah-Vay-Kah as it’s pronounced here) have been incredibly welcoming and helpful to these four bungling Americans with only rudimentary German-language skills!

Special thanks to Kerstin Schill, Dorothe Poggel, Thurid Werner, Wolfgang Stenzel, Christine Gehrking, Bijan Kafi, Michael Killig, Jens Bagull, and Kerstin Labusch for helping us get oriented!

Initially, we thought we’d all four be squeezing into a single tiny 500-800 square foot apartment and likely to murder each other before our time here was done. Instead, the HWK staff surprised us with two adjoining apartments!

The boys are delighted to have their very own flat! They’ve had fun exploring the institute’s ping pong and foosball room and getting to know the other kids and families here at the institute.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Schill and the HWK team, to Susan Gaines and the Fiction Meets Science board, and to our departments and universities for making this adventure possible for us!

Writer friends, scientist friends, artist friends, social science friends, I cannot say enough good things about this place—it is THE DREAMIEST! To quote the text I sent to our family when we arrived: “It’s ten thousand times better than we even expected!” If you’re interested in applying, you can find more information here.

More soon!

Publication Day!


Today’s a special day for me. It’s the publication day for my new book, Other Possible Lives.

A few things to share:

Thank you to everyone who’s already pre-ordered! If you’re interested in ordering the book, you can do so direct from the publisher here. Ordering direct from indie presses like Broadstone helps support the vital work these small presses are doing in making a home for poetry.

If you’re in Orlando, come celebrate with me at the launch party: Monday, October 21, 7 p.m. at Park Avenue CDs. There will be books! There will be sweet jams! And best of all, thanks to the good folks at Park Avenue CDs and Orange Blossom Brewing, there will be free beer!

If you read the book and don’t think it’s terrible, I’d be super grateful to have you rate and review the book on Amazon, and/or Goodreads.

I know it’s unusual for book clubs to read books of poems, but one of my biggest goals as a writer is to make work that invites readers in–especially folks that think they don’t like poetry. (Top Secret Confession: I used to think that, too!) I’d love to talk with your book club in person or by video chat. If you’re interested, you can reach me here.

Do you or someone you know run a reading series or host literary events? I love to read, talk to budding writers, and connect with readers. You can reach me here.

Are you a book reviewer interested in reviewing the book? I’ve got a box full of ARCs, and I’d love to send one your way! You can reach me here.

Do you love the cover as much as I do? Check out more art by painter and generally awesome person Michael Eble here.

And finally, thank you times one million to friends and colleagues who’ve helped this book find its way to readers via blurbs, excerpts in publications, readings, etc.