PH One of the things I find interesting about your work is how you use and approach science. It seems to me that you are at least as interested in the culture of science as you are in pure science. Examples of this include "The White Road" and "Heart." In the former story, you focus on the everyday lives of researchers in Antarctica. In the latter, your character, a heart surgeon, reflects on the experience of seeing a patient's heart stop beating in her hand.
To what degree do you see science a way into the characters you create? Do your stories begin with a scientific inquiry or with a character making a scientific inquiry?
TH: You are right that I am just as interested in the culture of science—in fact, I am interested in every aspect of science, from the methodology and the mindset to daily life in a lab, the creativity of experiment design, and the wondrous and often bizarre vocabularies, which I love to plunder! As to what comes first, it's really hard to say. I immerse myself in science all the time, I read New Scientist every week, actively opening my mind to ideas which I could use as springboards into stories or poems. Stories begin with a character or, more specifically, a voice, which may be the main character or a narrator. It's that voice talking to me that generally gets me going. Poetry begins differently, with a phrase, with certain words.
What I actively do now is collide two ideas together, very often a scientific one with something else I have been thinking about, and see what results. I have been known to read two things at the same time—say, a New Scientist article and an article on something entirely different in another magazine—just to mess with my head and produce something new. Messing with my own head is an intrinsic part of my process!
You can read the rest of the interview here - and do check out Simon Perchik's wonderful poem, Untitled, among the other delights in that same issue:
With her name in your mouthYou can read the full poem here.
more than a word, a morning
and everywhere on Earth