Scientist Lanza conveys his theory that “the universe springs from life, not the other way around” in Observer (Story Plant, Jan.), a thriller coauthored with Kress.

How did you come to develop your theory of biocentrism?

Lanza: It goes back to when I was a young boy, when I used to explore the forests of eastern Massachusetts. I was observing nature and pondering the larger existential questions, and it occurred to me that the static objective view of reality that I was being taught just wasn’t right. The Nobel Prize was just awarded just a few months ago to three gentlemen whose experiments showed that entangled particles change behavior depending on whether you look at them or not. Why? The answer is that that reality is a process that involves our consciousness.

How did this partnership begin?

Kress: Our agent put us together, because Bob, who’s published several nonfiction books on biocentrism, wanted to embody his ideas in a novel.
I was intrigued by the project from the very beginning because I have always thought that consciousness is woven into the universe. What we wanted to write together was about how these ideas might inform a possible future. And we worked until we got something we were both happy with.

Robert, what appealed to you about conveying your theory in a thriller?

Lanza: As Nancy mentioned, I’ve written nonfiction books, and also articles for peer-reviewed theoretical physics journals. I really wanted, through storytelling, to bring to life, in a fun way, the idea that space, time, and the nature of life and death itself depends on the observer in us. On the surface, these ideas are really crazy. Trying to get this across in a way that people could understand is very complicated. This is why I pulled Nancy into this, it’s very hard
to convey these ideas without seeming like a nut job.

Nancy, what was your biggest challenge in doing that?

Kress: How much science how early to include, because we needed to have enough to make it clear that this actually rests on a solid scientific foundation, but not so much that the reader thinks, “Oh, dear, this is a monograph on science, and I’m not interested anymore.” So we experimented with various placements for questions the neurosurgeon lead had, the lectures she received, and the depth that we should go into. A lot of the rewrites that we did revolved around that, because as Bob says, it’s not a simple A plus B equals C. It’s complicated, and striking the right balance did take a lot of iterations for us to get it right.