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.

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.

Matthew Bettelheim: Wildlife Confessional

In The Wildlife Confessional—Kick It in the Ice Hole and Other Stories, NASW member and wildlife biologist Matthew Bettelheim and the late writer/wildlife biologist Thomas Roberts offer a multi-authored collection of tales and reflections on encounters with birds, bears, and more in diverse locales. Funds from book sales will help support student scholarships, grants, and training opportunities.

John Galbraith Simmons, translator, Aline and Valcour

Science writer John Galbraith Simmons and his wife Jocelyne Geneviève Barque provide the first English translation of a 900-page epistolary novel by the French author Marquis de Sade, written while Sade was imprisoned in the 1580s. Aline and Valcour combines picaresque adventures, satire, and black humor to illuminate societal injustices that persist today, including exploitation of women.

Sidney Perkowitz: Real Scientists Don’t Wear Ties

Physicist Sidney Perkowitz began writing about science for non-scientists in 1989, the year he celebrated his 50th birthday and published his 100th academic paper. In "Real Scientists Don’t Wear Ties," he includes 50 of his favorite pop-sci reports on topics such as illuminating light, brain injuries in soccer, Frankenstein turns 200, Hollywood science, and, yes, how scientists dress for success.

Gene Levinson: Rethinking Evolution

The classical concept of Darwinian natural selection does not encompass the varieties of new structures and functions that arise when separate entities interact in useful ways, Gene Levinson asserts in "Rethinking Evolution: The Revolution That’s Hiding in Plain Sight." His updated evolutionary theory, he says, reflects recent discoveries in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.

Cat Warren: What the Dog Knows

In What the Dog Knows, Cat Warren tells how she transformed her rambunctious German shepherd, Solo, recognized as having a “good nose,” into a cadaver dog. Warren gives young readers an introduction to the science of scent and the process of training dogs to follow a scent through a swamp, below ground, and even below the surface of a lake in this adaptation of her 2013 book on the same topic.

Ginger Pinholster: City in a Forest

In City in a Forest, the first novel by Ginger Pinholster, longtime PIO for AAAS, two women strive to prevent a developer from building luxury condos on verdant but lead-contaminated land near their childhood homes. One of the women works as a PIO for an environmental non-profit, while the other, an artist, draws on personal and cultural history to produce her fanciful sculptures and masks.

William Grigg: A Perfectly Natural Murder

Remember the 1982 Tylenol poisonings? Bill Grigg does. He was the FDA's news director then. That experience sparked his novel focusing on intentional food poisoning, A Perfectly Natural Murder. Its hapless hero is a PIO for an insurance company whose dinner party was co-opted by a colleague with a dark secret. The hero's father, a medical reporter, helps move the investigation along.

Sidney Perkowitz: Physics: A Very Short Introduction

Physics governs the world we live in. It underlies everyday technology such as smartphones and medical imaging devices, and influences major societal concerns such as nuclear proliferation, energy use, and climate change. In "Physics: A Very Short Introduction," Sidney Perkowitz offers lay readers a guide to what physics covers, how physicists carry out research, and why this research matters.

Richard Maurer: Destination Moon

From Jules Verne’s novels in the 1860s to Disney’s “Man in Space” 1950s TV series that captivated Dwight Eisenhower among others, popular culture often presciently described space travel. In Destination Moon: The Remarkable and Improbable Voyage of Apollo 11, Richard Maurer focuses on six people plus co-workers who helped transform scifi into reality. Posters and photos round out the text.