Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit to submit your report.

Publication of NASW members' reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Rectangular photo of Rachel Nuwer’s office bookshelf with books on neuroscience and psychoactive drugs. Photo credit Rachel Nuwer.

Rachel Nuwer—I FEEL LOVE: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World

After decades of clinical research, and both legal and illegal use, MDMA (short for methylenedioxymethamphetamine) also known as Molly, formerly as Ecstasy, is nearing FDA approval for the treatment of PTSD in veterans. In I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World, Rachel Nuwer details MDMA’s complex history, potential medical uses, and battle for legalization.

 Rectangular photo of Emily Monosson’s office bookshelf showing titles on fungi and natural history. Photo credit Emily Monosson.

Emily Monosson—Blight: Fungi and the Coming Pandemic

“Infectious fungi and fungus-like pathogens are the most devastating disease agents known on the planet,” Emily Monosson asserts. While most of the six million different species of fungi are harmless, some kill their host plants and animals, including humans. In Blight: Fungi and the Coming Pandemic, Monosson offers examples of fungal spread & details scientists’ efforts to stop fungal invasions.

Rectangular photo of Ret Talbot’s office bookshelf showing titles exploring sharks and other marine biology topics. Photo credit Ret Talbot.

Greg Skomal with Ret Talbot (NASW Member)—Chasing Shadows: My Life Tracking the Great White Shark

The resurgence of white sharks along the northeastern US seacoast, a conservation success story, has sparked worries about public safety. Fatal attacks, while rare, have occurred. In Chasing Shadows: My Life Tracking the Great White Shark, Greg Skomal, Massachusetts Shark Research Program director, and science writer Ret Talbot, provide perspective on advances in understanding shark biology.

Rectangular photo of Ilana Yurkiewicz’s office bookshelf showing titles exploring doctor-patient relationships and writing. Photo credit Ilana Yurkiewicz

Ilana Yurkiewicz, MD—Fragmented: A Doctor’s Quest to Piece Together American Health Care

Uncertainties in medicine arise from both what is unknowable and what is missing, Ilana Yurkiewicz, MD, asserts in Fragmented: A Doctor’s Quest to Piece Together American Health Care. Seemingly mundane clinical decisions may have profound effects later on, Yurkiewicz says. She offers vignettes that include care her father received after a cardiac arrest & proposes ways to improve medical culture.

Rectangular photo of Marie Zhuikov’s office bookshelf with titles about wilderness and human nature. Photo credit Marie Zhuikov.

Marie Zhuikov—Meander North

Lifelong Minnesota science writer Marie Zhuikov takes readers along as she explores her state’s peatland bogs on snowshoes, hikes to ice-filled sea caves on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and paddles a canoe around remote lakes. In Meander North, a book of collected blog posts, she also reports on dog-walking despite 30-below windchills, wildlife encounters, and community life.

Rectangular photo showing one of the last sections of the border wall nearing completion at the time of the author’s visit in May 2022.

Sneed B. Collard III—Border Crossings

Two endangered ocelots seeking food and mates attempt a journey between the US and Mexico. The border wall blocks one while the other crosses freely where wall construction is incomplete. In Border Crossings, Sneed B. Collard III explores the border wall’s threat to the survival of native animals and plants, many found nowhere else on Earth. Collard is the author of 85+ children’s science books.

Rectangular photo of Cameron Walker’s office bookshelf showing books on drawing, journaling, and nature. Photo credit Cameron Walker

Cameron Walker—National Monuments of the U.S.A.

The 130+ national monuments in the US include a 6-mile wide lake in a volcanic caldera; a riverbed with more than 750 types of fossils, some 44 million years old; homes of many of the nation’s heroes, and sites where historically significant events occurred. Cameron Walker describes them all in National Monuments of the U.S.A., a richly illustrated book for readers aged 6-10 & their families.

Rectangular photo of a closeup of books on a shelf, spanning titles on science writing. Photo by Danna Staaf

Danna Staaf—Nursery Earth: The Wondrous Lives of Baby Animals and the Extraordinary Ways They Shape Our World

Baby animals help scientists explore important questions: How do genes influence health? Which environmental factors support—or obstruct—life? Learning how babies grow, Danna Staaf asserts In Nursery Earth: The Wondrous Lives of Baby Animals and the Extraordinary Ways They Shape Our World, will help us understand and treat nearly all health problems, and someday even mend damaged body parts.

Rectangular photo of Erika Bolstad’s office bookshelf showing books on indigenous tribes, the history of North Dakota, prairie and western life, and oil exploration. Photo credit: Erika Bolstad

Erika Bolstad—Windfall: The Prairie Woman Who Lost Her Way and the Great-Granddaughter Who Found Her

Anna, a North Dakota homesteader in the early 1900s, left her family mineral rights to land with potential oil and gas reserves. Anna’s great-granddaughter Erika Bolstad worried about the land-grab behind those rights & their possible environmental impact. In "Windfall: The Prairie Woman Who Lost Her Way and the Great-Granddaughter Who Found Her," Bolstad explores family roots & devises a solution.