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 Ginger Pinholster’s office bookshelf containing a variety of narratives by and about people living on the edges of society, including some with mental illness. Photo credit Ginger Pinholster.

Ginger Pinholster—Snakes of St. Augustine

Encounters with snakes serve as a metaphor for challenges faced by people struggling with untreated mental illness, homelessness, and substance abuse while also seeking love and support in Ginger Pinholster’s novel Snakes of St. Augustine. Pinholster also explores the intersection of mental illness and community policing that sometimes has tragic consequences.

Rectangular photo of Prosanta Chakrabarty’s office bookshelf showing works on evolution, genetics, biology, and the natural world, along with personal memorabilia. Photo credit Prosanta Chakrabarty

Prosanta Chakrabarty—Explaining Life through Evolution

Louisiana law empowers state schools to teach the biblical account of creation in science classes as an alternative to evolution. In Explaining Life Through Evolution, evolutionary biologist/science writer Prosanta Chakrabarty exposes the legislation’s flaws. He tells general readers how evolution works & why understanding it matters. He even includes graphics for a proposed Darwin movie.

Rectangular photo of Ted Anton’s office bookshelf with titles on biotechnology and literature, reflecting both his book’s topic and his work as a professor of English at DePaul University. Photo credit Ted Anton.

Ted Anton—Programmable Planet: The Synthetic Biology Revolution

The success of mRNA vaccines, diagnostic tests, and therapies for Covid-19 starting in 2020 became “synthetic biology’s moment,” Ted Anton notes in Programmable Planet: The Synthetic Biology Revolution. Changing life by changing DNA, he asserts, holds the promise of yielding more effective medications as well as sustainable foods, fuels, clothing, building materials, furniture, and more.

Rectangular photo of Brittany Fair’s office bookshelf showing books on yoga, the brain, anatomy, and science writing. Photo credit: Brittany Fair.

Brittany Fair—The Neuroscience of Yoga and Meditation

How effective are yoga and meditation in reducing stress? What benefits can they offer people with multiple sclerosis, stroke, pain, and other medical conditions? In The Neuroscience of Yoga and Meditation, Brittany Fair explains findings and limitations of scientific research on these topics. She also illustrates different poses and provides text for self-guided meditative practices.

Rectangular photo of Ann Bracken’s office bookshelf showing titles on depression, anxiety, the opioid crisis, and psychoactive medications. Photo credit Ann Bracken.

Ann Bracken—Crash: A Memoir of Overmedication and Recovery

If one medication for an illness doesn’t help, maybe adding another will. That philosophy has prompted simultaneous use of multiple prescribed medications for one or more disorders by millions of Americans. In Crash: A Memoir of Overmedication and Recovery, Ann Bracken explores the adverse impact of polypharmacy on her migraines and depression and describes her self-directed path to recovery.

Horizontal photo of a bookshelf of Brad Fox, featuring many old titles by William Beebe

Brad Fox—The Bathysphere Book: Effects of the Luminous Ocean Depths

Bioluminescent fish like “stars gone mad.” A “marine monster,” 20 ft long, with no eyes or fins. In the 1930s, William Beebe documented never-seen-before ocean life from his bathysphere, a submersible steel ball with oxygen tanks and 8” windows that allowed him to explore ½ mile below the surface. In The Bathysphere Book: Effects of the Luminous Ocean Depths, Brad Fox chronicles Beebe’s life and times.

Rectangular photo of Quinn Eastman’s office bookshelf showing books on narcolepsy, sleep science, and the medical care system. Photo credit Quinn Eastman.

Quinn Eastman—The Woman Who Couldn't Wake Up: Hypersomnia and the Science of Sleepiness

A magazine article on a little-known sleep disorder Quinn Eastman wrote for Emory U. in 2012 spurred requests from readers seeking information and treatment. In The Woman Who Couldn’t Wake Up: Hypersomnia and the Science of Sleepiness, Eastman reports advances in understanding that disorder, idiopathic hypersomnia, and describes difficulties people with orphan diseases face in getting proper care.

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.