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.

My Writing Process Blog Tour


Thanks so much to Christine Sneed for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Tour! Below, I tackle the tour’s four questions for writers:

1) What am I working on?

I’m at work lately on a novel project about cryptozoology (variously described as the study of mythical animals, the study of animals not yet recognized by science, and the study of animals known only from folklore and legend) and a new poetry manuscript called We Didn’t Come to Have a Good Time, We Came to See You.

My agent is also taking my first novel around to publishers (it’s about gifted and talented teenage girls, gentlemen explorers, high-energy particle physics, and assimilation into American culture), so I’m also currently “working on” keeping all available appendages crossed and obsessively checking my email.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Writing as both a poet and a fiction writer, I’m always struggling to incorporate the poetic into narrative and narrative into the poetic. When I fail at this, it means that I have poems that sound too much like stories and fiction that sounds too much like poems, but sometimes, every once in a while, I luck into pulling it off.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’ve wanted to write books since I was a kid. Initially, I imagined I’d write novels, but in college, I surprised myself by falling in love with poetry. I had a poetry professor, Dean Young, who opened my eyes to the wild and raucous kinds of things poems could be. So now I move (usually happily) back and forth between both.

4) How does your writing process work?

Like many writers, it starts with something I find interesting (high energy particle physics, gentlemen explorers, cryptozoology, etc.). Often, I read around to learn more about something and then start assembling bits and pieces. Most of my work starts out as a kind of messy collage, but at least for fiction, I’m trying to see if I can train myself to plot and write in a more sensible, organized way.

With poems, I jot lines down and then cut and add and tweak and play around with line breaks and space on the page, sometimes for years until it feels right. In putting together a poetry manuscript, I love the new possibilities for making meaning that come with the way you choose to order and group the poems.

Then there’s revision, of course, which is a whole other process! Perhaps more on that later…

Below are the writers I’ve invited to join the tour. Keep an eye out for their posts April 14:

Jamieson Ridenhour is novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. His award-winning short horror films Cornerboys and The House of the Yaga are featured on He is the author of Barking Mad (Typecast, 2011), a Wodehousian werewolf murder-mystery; In Darkest London (Scarecrow, 2013), an academic study of Gothic London; and Grave Lullaby (2012), a national finalist for the David Cohen playwriting award. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Pseudopod, Radio UnBound, The NewerYork, and others.

Donna Trump’s work has been published in Ploughshares, Mid-American Review, Ars Medica, and Chautauqua, among others.  Her short story, “Wolf Notes,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Donna’s education includes degrees in Biology and Physical Therapy and a host of writing classes taken and taught at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.  Honors include a Loft Mentorship with Sandy Benitez and Peter Ho Davies, mentorship with Benjamin Percy, and a MN Emerging Writer grant. She writes (somewhat irregularly) about the sacredness of everyday things in her blog at

Simeon Berry lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. Recent work appears in Hotel Amerika, Western Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and American Letters & Commentary. In 2013, his manuscript, Ampersand Revisited, was selected by Ariana Reines for The National Poetry Series, and is forthcoming from Fence Books. He can be found online at