The Scariest Part: Robert Masello Talks About THE EINSTEIN PROPHECY

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This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Robert Masello, whose latest novel is The Einstein Prophecy. Here’s the publisher’s description:

As war rages in 1944, young army lieutenant Lucas Athan recovers a sarcophagus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Shipped to Princeton University for study, the box contains mysteries that only Lucas, aided by brilliant archaeologist Simone Rashid, can unlock.

These mysteries may, in fact, defy — or fulfill — the dire prophecies of Albert Einstein himself.

Struggling to decipher the sarcophagus’s strange contents, Lucas and Simone unwittingly release forces for both good and unmitigated evil. The fate of the world hangs not only on Professor Einstein’s secret research but also on Lucas’s ability to defeat an unholy adversary more powerful than anything he ever imagined.

From the mind of bestselling author and award-winning journalist Robert Masello comes a thrilling, page-turning adventure where modern science and primordial supernatural powers collide.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Robert Masello:

Even though my books always have a supernatural element to them, and they get routinely described as “scary” in the promotional material and reviews, I seldom find them very scary myself. It’s not that I don’t try — I sit at my computer into the wee dark hours of the night, trying my best to give myself the shivers, but I’m usually too absorbed in questions of craft — have I set the scene up properly? have I chosen the right word? am I being too graphic, or, on the other hand, am I exercising too much restraint? — to lose myself in any visceral way. Sometimes, and this is the avenue into the scary for me, I’m able to tap into, or draw on, something from my own life that genuinely spooked me, and with any luck convey some sense of it to the reader.

In The Einstein Prophecy, there’s one scene in particular where I was able to conjure up some fear from my own past and insert it into the novel.

Most of the book takes place in the town of Princeton and on the campus of the university, where, when I was an undergraduate there, I spent a lot of time, as did most of my classmates, buried in the lower levels of Firestone Library. In your senior year, you were assigned a carrel, a private cubicle the size of a coat closet and with all of the same charm. It was furnished with a sliding metal door with a tiny window in it, and a desk and chair inside. There were a couple of shelves for the books you were using for your thesis research, a wastebasket, and that was about it.

My carrel was on the lowest level of all, at the very end of a long, dimly-lit corridor (they were all dimly-lit) and working late at night, I often found myself the last one there, surrounded by acres — and I’m not kidding — of towering book racks, groaning under the weight of over two million volumes. The university had one of the largest open-stack libraries in the world. The only sounds were the hissing of heating pipes and the occasional squeak of a book cart being pushed along, unseen, somewhere in the stacks, by an equally invisible librarian. In the novel, my heroine, a young Egyptian scholar named Simone, has been waiting for some maps she had requested from the Special Collections to be delivered, when she hears the book cart, and follows it on an increasingly maddening voyage into the labyrinth…until she hears something strange and realizes she might not want to catch up to it, after all.

The labored breath came again, closer than before. Lowering her head, she peeked through the stacks into the neighboring aisle. Something moved there, dark and indistinct, its back to her.

Ducking down and swallowing hard — her mouth was suddenly as dry as the Sahara – she inched away, down the narrow passage between two rows of books, and when she thought she’d put enough distance between them, stopped to take another glance back.

Over the top of a collection of atlases, she saw a pair of eyes staring back at her. Sunken, black, buried deep in a face the color of mud.

She bolted down the aisle, turning left at the end, then racing down another and turning right. She could hear the sound of padding feet — or was it paws? — keeping pace with her.

She ran harder, desperately trying to orient herself. Was she heading toward the stairs or another dead end? She had the vague notion that she was being deliberately stampeded, that her pursuer had no intention of overtaking her yet — that it was only playing with her, like a cat with a mouse. Tying to scare her to death.

Now it’s true that I was never actually chased by a menacing creature — real or unreal — through the murky corridors of the university library, but there was many a winter night, alone in my isolated carrel, when I got a serious case of the willies. Whether or not I’m able to pass that sensation along to my readers is a question only they can answer. But I’ve given it the old college try.

Robert Masello: Website / Facebook / Goodreads

The Einstein Prophecy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / IndieBound

Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, television writer (Charmed, Sliders, Poltergeist: the Legacy), and the author of many bestselling novels and nonfiction books, including Blood and Ice, The Medusa Amulet, and The Romanov Cross. His most recent supernatural thriller, The Einstein Prophecy, takes place during the Second World War, when Albert Einstein was attached to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the Allies were racing against time, and the Axis powers, to unlock the lethal secrets of atomic energy. Published this past summer, the book occupied the number one slot in the Amazon Kindle store for several weeks. He now lives and works in Santa Monica, CA.

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