Samantha Hunt '93 knew she had to write about forgotten inventor Nikola Tesla. Tesla invented some of the most important technologies in human history — including AC electricity and radio — but Hunt describes her subject as "more a starving artist than an engineer," a "poet-inventor."
Hunt wrote "The Invention of Everything Else" to profile this poet-inventor. Case in point: At age eight, Tesla invented a motor powered by June bugs. Later he proposed a machine capable of photographing thought.
Hunt's UVM background has served this novelist well. An English major and geology/studio arts minor, Hunt worked as a graphic artist for the Burlington weekly Seven Days before publishing her first novel ("The Seas").
Readers need not be too suspiscious of the fictional slant of this non-fictional subject. Hunt's research was extensive, delving into the New York Public Library, reading Tesla biographies, old magazines, newspapers and letters, even exploring the Hotel New Yorker where the inventor lived out his final years.
The story weaves Tesla’s years in that Manhattan hotel — where he roomed with pigeons — with a fictional chambermaid who befriends him.
"I've always wondered why we have to have such strict divisions between fiction and non-," Hunt muses. "Particularly now when it seems that what we construe as 'reality' (reality T.V., cosmetic surgery, fast food) is phony. Fiction, even fantasy or sci-fi, always rings true to me in that a human thought it, wrote it."