BEHIND THE BOOK: N. Lawrence Mann

I’m a science guy when all is said and done, and as I could never get myself focused enough in grade school or high school to make a career out of it, I am left with only a qualitative understanding of how the universe works. Don’t make me try to dissect formulas on a whiteboard in front of people. I will leave that to the people who actually knew what they wanted to be in grade school and obtained the grades necessary to follow their dreams. But I always love a good conversation about what we, as homo sapiens, know or think we know about the world in our small amount of time on this planet.

Einstein’s general relativity

There are two popular explanations of how the universe operates (and a few unpopular ones that I will omit for simplicity). In one corner, there is Einstein’s general relativitythe explanation of the very large (planets, stars, galaxies, etc.). In the other corner is quantum mechanics—the study of the very small (subatomic particles, etc.). Both are used every day to make things run. Electricity, GPS, everything involving technology, makes use of one of these principles. They are just facts of life at this point.

However, as structurally important as these two are for our understanding of the world, they don’t get along with each other. They fight (which is why we have them in their separate corners). Particularly when crunching numbers involving black holes—when the very large is reduced to the very small—the numbers fall apart, and we are left with puzzled faces and frustration.

This is fascinating to me and has been as long as I can remember learning about this stubborn

Quantum mechanics

fact. Indeed, this says something. To me, it means that someone, somewhere, is either wrong or the world is simply stranger than we had imagined or are capable of imagining just yet. Keep in mind, we are supposedly only using 10% of our brain power (I will return to this in a moment).

This universal conundrum was my first influence for writing this series.

I’m also an addict, currently recovered now for 10 years. I won’t get into all the details of it, as I’m sure there are other articles out there covering that ground (which I won’t pester you with here, today). But this was my second reason for writing.

I wanted to share my experiences with drug addiction in a fictional narrative, where I could also explore these current roadblocks in our scientific understanding of the world; I wanted to combine the madness of becoming unhinged by substance abuse with the awe of possibility hidden away in not only the universe but deep within our own brain. Remember how we only use 10% of our brain? What if it was suddenly 15%? How much more would we know at 20%? 30%?

It’s a fantastic platform on which stories can build. For instance, In the newest installment of the Blue Warp Series, COMA DREAMS, these concepts continue to be examined under the proverbial microscope, but deeper elements of the human condition—forgiveness, grief and release—are also explored. 

5 Movies Watched or Music Listened to While Writing the Book (2016-2017ish): 

  • A Clockwork Orange was on Amazon Prime Video at the time. I would often put my headphones on and fall asleep to the beginning sequence. Malcolm McDowell’s voice narrated a dream or two during that time!
  • I discovered the British Series, Black Mirror, on Netflix while writing this. It is today’s version of The Twilight Zone and is just fantastic.
  • Al Jourgenson, front man of the Band, Ministry, released a new side project called Surgical Meth Machine, which was in heavy rotation near final days of writing. Fast, furious and featuring the lost art of sarcasm. Loved it.
  • It was a great year for New England football, and a heartbreaking one for the University of Michigan Football.
  • Sesame Street. Lots of Sesame Street. Although the preliminary writing was completed before our baby was born (which was not an accident), many re-writes and improvements were added after. It wasn’t long before the house was alive with the sound of Elmo.