Persona Cracked is a series that explores the intersection of artists, their work, and social media. My next guest, Liz Fyne, has degrees in biology and neuroscience. She worked for 14 years doing biomedical research before she transitioned to fiction writing.
You describe yourself on social media as a ‘recovering scientist,’ but is it better to be a ‘starving artist?’ What prompted your plunge into literature?
When I left science, I was really burned out. It can become very tedious, sitting in the cell culture hood for hours with a pipette. On the plus side, it provides a steady paycheck, which is more than can be said about writing. I do still have a “real job,” no longer doing cell culture, but it is science related.
As to my plunge into literature, it was not planned. I was just doing my science thing, at the time still enjoying it, when one day I began feeling like I’d lose my mind if I didn’t start writing a book. This was an unexpected and confusing development. I had no clue how to write any kind of fiction, nevertheless a novel. But the feeling didn’t leave me alone. Now here I am.
And readers are better off for it! Your story, “Gift Shop at the OCME,” involves a woman exploring the souvenir section at the Medical Examiner building. I was struck by the precision, juxtaposition, and humor of your prose. How does your background as a scientist inform your writing?
I don’t write much on scientific topics. Some of my stories are science-y, but the books not so much. I do think the science background contributes to a certain precision of wording. The vocabulary creeps in. Also, at times, a somewhat scientific worldview.
With regard to writing evaluation, I struggle with the degree of subjectivity. There is no single, perfect ideal, no official meter-long cylinder stored in a vault in a France. Thus, if your writing is being rejected, the most common outcome, there isn’t necessarily any clear path forward.
Your story, “Snow Girl Found,” is a powerful tale about a teenage girl who runs away from home after she is sexually assaulted by a group of boys. The language works like a surgical knife alongside carefully chosen cold imagery and metaphors. I notice you often post pictures of your cats online, but not a lot of humans. Are pets better company than people?
I really love pet photos (other people’s and posting my own), especially when the world is stressful, which frequently it is. And wasn’t the Internet invented to share cat pictures anyway?
A QAnon conspiracy theorist, priest, and scientist walk into a bar. Who is the first to get 86’d, and why?
Ha! Great question! I suppose the QAnon conspiracy theorist and the priest could bond over their joint belief in God and the Big Cheese fallen angel. Hence, the scientist gets the proverbial boot.
What are you looking forward to in 2022?
It would be great to sign with an agent and/or publisher for one of my novels. They are feeling sadly unloved and free (sort of) to a good home.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Ryan Hyatt, January 15, 2022