Interview with S. D. Unwin, Author of The Magni

09 Aug 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Magni?

As a recovering theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie have always been among my heroes, and I have long been curious about the true nature of genius. Two of my protagonists are genetic clones of these great scientists. They are among the Magni, great thinkers who walk the earth again, unaware of their own identities. A question that intrigues me is whether the uniqueness of a person’s great achievements in life reflects the uniqueness of the person―their intellect, their imagination? And how important is nurture versus genetics in making such genius? In the Magni, this question hangs heavy as the protagonists’ survival depends on them out-thinking the murky conglomerate that re-created them for sordid purposes.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Magni, what would they be?

Tough question. I think the characters’ music would evolve throughout the story. Maybe a little dissonant at first, next becoming beautifully harmonious, then, all of a sudden, violently dissonant, and finally… well, maybe that would give away too much.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I love to write science fiction thrillers. A challenge I enjoy is to inject just enough genuine science to make my imagined worlds feel real. However, as a reader, my tastes are far more eclectic.

My favorite nonfiction genres include history (love classical Greek/Roman), forefronts in science, philosophy, and biographies (scientists, composers, writers). In fiction: historical, literary, spy capers and, of course, sci fi.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

I tend to find an author I like and then work my way through their back catalog. David Mitchell (Slade House) and Hilary Mantel (The Mirror & the Light) are next on my list. However, whatever new work James S. A. Corey puts out will jump the queue.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

The identity of the great scientist from whom my main protagonist was cloned is not revealed until late in the story. I enjoyed capturing his incredulity as he makes the discovery. I also had fun writing the action scenes―not from the perspective of an action hero, but from that of a real human in mortal peril.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Perhaps it isn’t so much a quirk, but I do type with incredible speed. However, the two fingers with which I achieve this feat are capable of multiple errors in a single, simple word. Because of this, I need to do several edits before I dare expose my work to the software spell checker. It’s equivalent to tidying your home before the cleaning service arrives, just to avoid embarrassment.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I really don’t. If I were to write down a simple, compelling truth with the idea of living my life by it, I’m the sort who would need to append a five-page list of caveats and exceptions. This is real life, after all. But for me, the philosophy with the fewest caveats would be The Golden Rule… treating others as you’d want to be treated.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

My wife dared me to answer “my name” to this question, but I won’t. I hope the book piques some curiosity about the real lives of the great scientists who appear in it―although in re-created form and with rather different codes of conduct. Some of the strangest events in the book allude to real-world circumstances which, perhaps, my readers might be intrigued enough to research.


S. D. Unwin is the author of the new book The Magni

Connect with S. D. Unwin

Author Site


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