Today, we welcome back author Tom Weston, who is here to talk about his latest project, Fission, a novel based on (in his words) the incredible but absolutely true story of Lise Meitner and the race for the atomic bomb. So welcome back, Tom. Let’s continue where we left off.
Q: You spoke of bringing Lise to your audience. Your other works, the Alex and Jackie Adventures, are classified as fantasy novels for young adults. This sounds so different from that genre; won’t your Alex and Jackie fans be turned off?
I don’t think so. If there is a common thread running though my works, it is that of the story of the underdog. I hope the Alex and Jackie fans will relate to Lise Meitner as they did to Sarah Pemberton from First Night, or Cuchaquichá from The Elf of Luxembourg; perhaps more so, because they were fictional characters, whereas she is not.
Q: Before we sat down, you mentioned that the publication of Fission is different from your other works. How so?
As I said, I originally wrote Fission as a screenplay; and for a first effort, it garnered a certain amount of praise, and was even named a finalist at the 2008 London Independent Film Festival. But so far, it hasn’t been optioned and there is no Hollywood blockbuster in the pipeline.
In the meantime, I became involved with other projects—the Alex and Jackie stuff, for example—and there was a distinct possibility that, as with Lise herself, Fission may be forgotten.
So to prevent that, I decided to resurrect it and convert the screenplay into a full-blown novel, which is what I set out to do. But, considering I already had a full schedule, I didn’t know when the novel would see the light of day, and I wanted to strike while the iron was hot, to use a cliché.
To counteract an intolerable delay, I made the decision to publish Fission in serial form, as novels were in the golden age of magazines. Of course, in our golden age the Internet has replaced the magazine, and so I chose to serialize the novel online, chapter by chapter as each is fleshed out from the screenplay.
We published the first chapter in June and have been uploading one or two chapters a week since then. As we speak, I have about one-third of the novel completed and online for people to read. When it’s done, hopefully by the end of the year or soon thereafter, we’ll go ahead and publish it the old-fashioned way.
Q: So people can read Fission now, before it’s officially published? How do they go about doing that?
Yes, at least as far as the work to date is concerned. Right now, I’m limiting the serial to my fans, free of charge as a small thank-you for their support; so the easiest way to find it and gain access to it is to visit my website at tom-weston.com or at facebook.com/tom.weston.readers and become a fan. For those fans that don’t have a Facebook account, you can still gain access via Google Friend Connect, or just email me and ask nicely for the password.
Q: Thank you for visiting, Tom, and good luck in getting the word out about Fission and Lise Meitner. Any last remarks?
Some have asked why I would put so much effort into this project and then give it away for free. But, the whole point of Fission is to introduce Lise Meitner to people who do not know her. I’d like them to read Fission, of course, but they could also turn to the biographies, or even Google to find out more about her, and I encourage everyone to do so.
The Lise Meitner story is so compelling, and I think that it’s important that we keep such stories alive and share them with each other, but her story, unfortunately, is not unique—we can all describe incidents of intolerance and hatred that often fall closer to home. I can’t write about them all, but I did choose to write about this one. This is my little contribution to redressing an injustice.