Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Short story inspired by the discovery of GFP

Manchester-based independent publishers Comma Press are doing something very close to my heart: commissioning fiction writers to be inspired by "eureka" moments in science across various disciplines, pairing them up with a scientist, and asking them produce short stories that explore this concept which will be published in an anthology in May.

Being commissioned is both wonderful and fairly scary. First, there was quite a detailed brief for this project. And second, it had to be a minimum of 2500 words. For someone like me who hasn't written anything over 1500 for 3 years, that was like asking me to write a novel (ok, not quite, but fairly daunting!)

 Transgenic tadpoles expressing Green Fluorescent Protein

Well, I managed it by approaching it as a set of short short fictions, and got to 2500, just... And the result, We Are All Made of Protein but Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, is inspired by the discovery of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which has transformed molecular biology, as I have learned well from the biochemistry lab here and from Nicholas Love, the researcher in the Amaya Lab at Manchester University that I was paired with. GFP allows a researcher to see inside a living organism in real time. It's amazing, as the pic above from his lab shows...

You can read my story here and Nicholas' afterword here. And there are more stories on the Comma site, for physics, chemistry and neuroscience, written by, among others, Annie Clarkson, Stella Duffy and Kate Clanchy. This is very exciting, I'm delighted to be involved...!


Oscar Windsor-Smith said...

Congratulations, Tania, on this wonderful commissioned story, describing an equally wonderful scientific discovery of which I would have otherwise been unaware. I love the interface between science and the arts, and have spent significant time at the wonderful Wellcome Collection's various exhibitions and events. This is indeed the way to inform the public at large about science. So much - if not all - fear is born of ignorance, isn't it? I must confess I envy you your scary commission. Well done you. Sincerely, Oscar

Tania Hershman said...

Oscar, thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and to comment here. Isn't this art/science stuff fun? Why don't more writers get in on the act! Here's to you getting a commission - do you know about this site Science in My Fiction

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