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.

Michelle Nijhuis: Beloved Beasts—Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction

Over the last 500 years, our planet has lost at least 755 animal species and 123 plant species, Michelle Nijhuis reports in Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction. Humans continue to kill species and destroy habitats, while climate change amplifies these threats. Growing worldwide conservation efforts, she says, have averted extinction of many species and aim to save more.

Carl Zimmer: Life's Edge—The Search for What It Means to Be Alive

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has used humans to make quadrillions of copies of itself. It also mutates. But is it alive? Many virologists say no: viruses get their sustenance only inside their host species’ cells. What is life anyway? In Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive, Carl Zimmer explores efforts by physicians, scientists, philosophers, & historians to answer this timeless question.

Olivia Campbell: Women in White Coats-How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine

“You cannot expect us to furnish you with a stick to break our heads with,” one of 29 medical school deans wrote Elizabeth Blackwell, refusing to admit her. But she persisted. Blackwell graduated from Geneva Medical College in 1849 at age 28, the nation’s 1st woman M.D. Others followed, as Olivia Campbell reports in Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine.

Joshua Hatch, Nicholas Jackson: KSJ Science Editing Handbook

Journalists and editors: How can you avoid false balance and false equivalency, identify a potential source’s lack of expertise or conflict of interest, improve source diversity, help your audience understand statistics, and use social media effectively? The KSJ Science Editing Handbook, co-edited by Joshua Hatch and Nicholas Jackson, addresses these and many other everyday challenges.

Liz Heinecke: Radiant—The Dancer, The Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light

In 1890s Paris, modern dance pioneer Loie Fuller dazzled Folies Bergere audiences with her swirling movements and inventive lighting. Later, she sought Marie Curie’s newly discovered glow-in-the-dark element, radium, to apply to her costumes. Liz Heinecke’s Radiant: The Dancer, The Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light tells the story of Fuller’s and Curie’s professional and personal ties.

Christoph Droesser: It’s about Sausage-What you have to know if you like to eat meat

Parents who serve meat to their children eventually have to talk about how the animal lived and died, whether eating meat is healthy, and how meat production affects the environment, says Christoph Droesser. He addresses these concerns in his book for children aged 8+, It’s about Sausage: What you have to know if you like to eat meat, currently available only in German.

Randy Mayfield with Beth Miller—One Life: Your Gift Will Make a Way!

NASW member Beth Miller teamed up with her lifelong friend, singer, songwriter, and pastor Randy Mayfield to produce Mayfield’s memoir, One Life: Your Gift Will Make a Way!. The book describes Mayfield’s many humanitarian missions around the world, which include providing aid for orphanages in India, food and clean water programs in Haiti, and job training programs for Kurdish refugees in Iraq.

Bijal P. Trivedi—Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine Forever

For cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease often fatal in early decades of life, parents raised millions of dollars to support research by scientists working at the cutting edge of gene therapies. Bijal P. Trivedi ties these threads together in her riveting narrative Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine Forever.

Christoph Droesser: When Things Talk to Us - Voice Assistants, Computers as Authors & Social Bots

“We need more detergent,” I told my husband. “I can help you with that,” my phone offered, unasked. I wasn’t aware it was eavesdropping. For the first time in history, humans can interact verbally with non-human entities, says Christoph Droesser. Are these genuine conversations? Droesser explores this question in When Things Talk to Us: Voice Assistants, Computers as Authors and Social Bots.