Ann Lingard, novelist and former scientist, is the founder of SciTalk, the free resource that helps writers to meet and talk to scientists. Her latest novel, The Embalmer’s Book of Recipes has just been published.
There is nothing especially different about being a scientist: yes, you require training in the method and ways of thinking and analysing, but these aspects can be learnt and applied. Most scientists, though, are people who are inquisitive about the world around them - as children and young people they use their senses to perceive the world around them, possibly without even realising they are doing so, or that this is not a common attribute of all human animals. They question what they see and hear and feel; they ask : Why? And how? And what for? You cannot engage in scientific research without this curiosity and the need to explore and know.
All scientists are inquisitive people (well, probably not all since probabilities imply exceptions) but not all inquisitive people are scientists. Many of them are probably fiction-writers - writers, too, have a desire to explore ideas and people and events, through the medium of their thoughts.
And this concept of inquisitiveness really takes off when writers and scientists meet and talk and collaborate. Science is important to writers too, because it shows them new and exciting and challenging ways of looking at the world - you don’t need to be a scientist to be creatively inspired by science.