Backstory: Unrequited Signals

A Q&A with Tara Abrishami, First Prize in the Youth Category
Read the story first: Unrequited Signals

What inspired your story of two scientists in different universes?

I started with the basic premise that I wanted to write about two separate but similar universes. Parallel universes are so intriguing and they make for such a good plot element. I love thinking about what might be the same and what might be different between two alternate realities, and a lot of that came through in my story, with the same characters having the same jobs, but they have a different relationship. That was really the only element that I knew before I started writing. I really love using things like science for inspiration for writing.

How did you become interested in parallel universes?

Well it's one of my favourite things to think about in terms of the implications of quantum research. I also love thinking about a futuristic setting – I had a lot of fun describing the scientists’ workplace, Le Centre. I was really lucky to have both great writing and great physics teachers in high school. My physics teachers would make jokes about what the physics theories might potentially imply, and so then I started getting interested and reading magazines and books on my own. I read Scientific American all the time. I was actually reading an old Scientific American magazine when I saw an advert for the 2013 Quantum Shorts competition. I looked it up to see if it was running again and it was!

What was the writing process like for Unrequited Signals?

I read through it maybe hundreds of times and make little changes here and there. It's definitely a process. I like to wait a few days before coming back to something that I've written because sometimes things that you missed you see when you're reading through it with a fresh mind. Sometimes you know how things look in your head and so you don't realise that you didn't write about it until after you read the story again.

What are you doing now you’ve graduated from high school?

I'm at Johns Hopkins University. I haven’t declared a major so far because I have a number of different interests. I'm looking at math, but I'm taking courses on track with the physics major as well, and I'm also taking a lot of writing classes as well. Right now I am enjoying so much exploring different fields.