Authors Dana Dargos and Said Al Bizri teamed up to create a unique story that delves into faith and science with some of the greatest minds in history.
Life has given Adam Reemi many reasons to question his faith. When he and a colleague create their own nano hadron collider, Adam decides to put it to good use. He transports Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Soren Kierkegaard, and Baruch Spinoza into his attic to discuss the question of whether God exists. The stakes grow even higher when Adam’s career and reputation are jeopardized by the question of “intelligent design.”
‘Einstein in the Attic’ is unlike anything I’d read before. Incredibly well-researched and crafted, the story takes the hardships of life to create realistic conflict. Then, the real science and theory along with the concept of faith are knitted together with science fiction for a riveting, page-turner. Who wouldn’t want to ask Einstein himself to mull over the secrets of existence? Genius!
Now the conversation with Dana and Said:
Jenn: How did the idea of ‘Einstein in the Attic’ come together?
Dana: Said and I were having a conversation one time about six years ago about spirituality and faith and how each of us struggled with it prior to the time we had the conversation. By then, we each had our own beliefs. However, upon having that conversation, we came to realize that a lot of people have had that same internal struggle with trying to understand whether there was an intelligent designer or not. And with all of the problems going on in the world at the time, (and even more now), we figured that a lot of people would find the topic relatable–especially when it came to wondering why there was so much evil and negativity in the world if a god did exist–and how science could tackle that theme if it took a fair stance. From there, we each wondered aloud how the world would change if one were to zap some of the most intelligent minds from the past and ask them those questions–how would the philosophers respond to those questions, (with logic and evidence), and how would their opinions influence the world? From there, Said and I kept adding more and more to the idea until it became a storyline.
Said: Dana was also studying at Berkeley and spent summers in Lebanon, which would make our collaboration interesting. Furthermore, we are both avid readers, so we just thought why not collaborate on a sci-fi novel.
Jenn: What was it like working as co-writers?
Dana: We literally created “Einstein in the Attic” across two continents. Said and I would regularly Whatsapp each other to exchange ideas and create the story. There was also the challenge of writing the story so that it seemed like one person wrote it, (since it’s told from Adam’s perspective). In order to do that, we had to ensure that our writing maintained a single line of continuity through the characters and their thinking, the syntax and simplicity of the language, and the implementation of ideas. All in all, it was a fun process and I would work again any time with Said.
Said: The time difference between Dana and I was the most challenging part, (since it was a nine-hour difference), but it was also fun exchanging ideas.
Jenn: The decision to name your protagonist and his wife “Adam” and “Evie” was very clever! How was that decision made?
Dana: We decided to name them “Adam” and “Evie” because we thought it was a clever, theological play, considering the themes of the novel.
Said: We also decided to name them “Adam” and “Evie” because we wanted their names to reflect their heritage, (Arabic names), but also accessible for Western readers, so we named them using names that were both English and Arabic.
Jenn: The depiction of Einstein turned into such a great character! How did you set about constructing personalities for all the great thinkers?
Dana: We did a lot of research about them–this included their lives, their personal beliefs, their hobbies, their personalities, tones, mannerisms, etc. In short, we wanted them to be as realistic as possible, so made sure to include as much detail as possible. As for their personalities, we based them off of what we read about them and imagined how their personality would correspond with that belief, upbringing, trait, etc. With Einstein, for example, he was incredibly intelligent, but also had an innocent, child-like curiosity and playfulness, so we decided to add that aspect to his personality. With Newton, he had a difficult upbringing and was often described to have a temper, so we imagined him to be a feisty guy that wouldn’t take a back seat to anyone.
Said: We also really tried to highlight their humanity and incorporate it into the novel. Obviously, hundred-year-old texts and quotes from the philosophers can only go so far in capturing our readers’ hearts, so we had to make sure that we made them seem as human as possible to the reader.
Jenn: Do you have a favorite scientist/philosopher of the group?
Dana: It’s really hard to choose because once you do all of that research and create their characters, you understand them so deeply that you love each of them in their own unique ways and even empathize with them, their struggles, their lives, etc. You really understand why they act the way they do.
Said: Agreed. We grew to love them all–both of us. When you read about the characters, they all grow on you and you can’t pick a favorite.
Jenn: Did you find that your own views of faith and science changed at all through the writing and researching process?
Dana: My views stayed the same, although they certainly did grow in knowledge. Furthermore, you learn so much about both sides and develop an intense appreciation for faith and science and understand why each side thinks the way they do. It makes complete sense.
Said: We tried our best to be neutral and portrayed both sides of the argument of faith and science. We also made sure to withhold our personal beliefs from the story since we wanted to be fair and not influence the reader towards any particular side. We merely presented the facts and research we discovered.
Jenn: How would you fare if you were invited to take part in a debate like the one depicted in the book?
Dana: We would be extremely excited to take part in it.
Said: True. I mean, we’ve done so much research on the topic, that I feel like we’d be prepared and do very well and present good, educated arguments.
Jenn: What should we expect from you next?
Dana and Said: We have proudly signed with an entertainment agency that is currently pitching “Einstein in the Attic” for tv/film. After that, we would then begin to think of our next project and where it would lead us!
Okay, that’s all for now. Be sure to check out ‘Einstein in the Attic.’ (You might want to read it twice to get the full effect!) And, if anyone has any pull with a production company, know that ‘Einstein’ would make a fabulous film!
Have a wonderful day, everyone!