What can be more fascinating than exploring newly made scientific achievements? The Unicheck team knows the answer. It’s the person who has a genius for creating science fiction. Luckily, we’ve become acquainted with the one. Meet Mark Alpert, a notable author of science thrillers and a contributing editor at Scientific American.Alpert’s choice of the literary genre wasn’t made by accident. Being a lifelong science geek, Mark got an astrophysics degree at Princeton University and wrote a thesis on the theory of relativity. Mark started as a small-town reporter and matured into a prolific writer and talented editor whereas his works were recognized as the best-selling thrillers. He is extremely good at making complex scientific phenomena simple for his wide readership. No wonder that his recently published thriller The Orion Plan is growing in popularity so fast.
By the way, this is not the only secret of his success. Read on to explore what inspires Mark the most and how he manages to stay original no matter how many stories have already been written.
What pushed you to become a writer?
I became a writer because I loved books so much. When I was a teenager I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction – Tolkien, Asimov, Crichton, Bradbury. I wrote poetry in college and got an MFA in creative writing from Columbia. Then I needed a job, so I became a journalist and worked for newspapers in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Alabama. In 1988 I started my first novel, a political thriller, but it didn’t get published, and neither did my next three books. But in 2008, Simon & Schuster published Final Theory, a science thriller about Albert Einstein, and I’ve written seven more novels since then, including my Young Adult trilogy: The Six, The Siege and The Silence (to be published this July). I like writing novels because they allow me to indulge in my fantasies, which are mostly dark and disturbing. They also give me a chance to tell a long story without interruption, which is much easier to do in print than at the dinner table.
With countless stories written, how do you manage to create new original content?
For me, the biggest challenge is to make the story interesting. For instance, many science-fiction authors have already written novels about extraterrestrials coming to Earth, but most of the stories ignore the fundamental truth about interstellar travel: the distance between stars is so great that it would be absurdly difficult to propel a large spacecraft from one star system to another. The only practical solution would be to send a very small craft instead. I incorporated this idea into my 2016 novel The Orion Plan, which describes what happens after a small probe lands in a deserted corner of Inwood Hill Park in New York City. Although the spacecraft is only the size of a bowling ball, it contains enough circuitry and machinery to explore and colonize the planet.
How do you get inspired to come up with new overwhelming stories?
Great novels inspire me. I loved All The King’s Men so much, I decided to write a political thriller just like it. I also get ideas for my books from reading the latest science news in publications such as Scientific American. (I’m a contributing editor there.)
What three words describe your personality the best?
Frighteningly, supernaturally handsome.
What advice would you share with novice writers?
Never stop reading or writing. Don’t give up!
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing about a U.S. president who takes advantage of cutting-edge technologies to grab power and turn the American republic into a dictatorship.
Learn what other Alpert’s scientific thrillers are about and get an instant source of inspiration by reading the author’s blog available at markalpert.com.