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Interviews | April 8, 2014 2 comments
The American Booksellers Association collects nominations from bookstores all over the country for favorite forthcoming titles. The Storied Life of... Continue »
Mark AlpertDescribe your latest project.
My first novel, Final Theory, is a thriller that combines awe-inspiring scientific ideas with FBI gun battles, white-knuckle car chases, and a desperate race to stop an experiment that would doom the world. If you like Albert Einstein, the Delta Force, robots, and Ferraris, you'll love Final Theory.
The novel's hero, Columbia University professor David Swift, is called to the hospital to comfort his mentor, an esteemed physicist who's just been brutally attacked and tortured. Fifty years ago Hans Kleinman had been one of Albert Einstein's young assistants, but now the old man is close to death and babbling nonsense. Just before succumbing, he pulls David close and wheezes two words in German: Einheitliche Feldtheorie. The Unified Field Theory. The Destroyer of Worlds. Could this be Einstein's proposed Theory of Everything, a single set of equations that would explain all the forces of Nature? Einstein spent the second half of his life searching for this theory, but he died without discovering it. Or did he?
Within hours of hearing his mentor's last words, David is running for his life. The FBI and a ruthless Russian mercenary are vying to get their hands on the long-hidden theory. Teaming up with an old girlfriend, brilliant Princeton physicist Monique Reynolds, David embarks on a frenzied cross-country quest, frantically trying to piece together Einstein's final theory to reveal its staggering consequences.
My first job was working as a reporter for the Claremont Eagle-Times, a small daily newspaper in New Hampshire. One day the editor of the paper a wonderful man named Poody Walsh said he had a strange assignment for me. A woman had called the paper saying that she'd bred a wild boar with a cow. I laughed and said, "This is a joke, right?" But Poody (like a true newspaper man) gave me the woman's number and said, "Check it out anyway." So I called the woman and quickly ascertained that Poody had misheard her she'd bred a boar with a sow, not a cow. This didn't sound quite so newsworthy, and I was about to hang up on the woman when she cried, "But the Fish and Game Department is trying to take poor Unkie away from us!" Unkie, as it turned out, was the name of her family's boar, a lovable animal that liked to eat Twinkies and play in their living room. So I went to their farm and took some pictures of the boar and pretty soon the story was on the front page of every newspaper in New Hampshire. The district court eventually ruled that the Fish and Game Department couldn't take the animal away, and Unkie lived happily ever after.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
How do you relax?
Describe the best breakfast of your life.
Why do you write?
Name the best television series of all time.
Who are your favorite characters in history? Have any of them influenced your writing?
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Novels that Have Wonderful Scientist Characters
Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
Roger's Version by John Updike
Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
Intuition by Allegra Goodman
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin
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A self-described lifelong "science geek," Mark Alpert majored in astrophysics at Princeton University, writing his undergraduate thesis on an application of Einstein's theory of relativity. After earning an MFA in poetry at Columbia and working as a reporter, he became an editor at Scientific American, where he simplifies bewildering scientific ideas for the magazine's readers. Mark lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.