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.

Matt Bille—Of Books and Beasts: A Cryptozoologist's Library

Cryptozoology has a bad rep. Wikipedia calls it a pseudoscience fixated on Bigfoot and other fantasy creatures. Think instead, Matt Bille says, of Alan Rabinowitz, Robin Baird, and others who use established zoological methods to study “hidden” animals and identify new species. In Of Books and Beasts: A Cryptozoologist's Library, he reviews 400 books exploring scientific research in the field.

Natasha Vizcarra—Spikeys, Prickles & Prongies: A Coronavirus Discovery Story

To teach kids about Covid, use familiar scenes, activities, and characters, Natasha Vizcarra suggests. In Spikeys, Prickles & Prongies: A Coronavirus Discovery Story, she traces the path of one woman’s infection to explain what the coronavirus is, how it spreads, how it’s treated, and why we need vaccines. Jamie Bauza’s illustrations complement the Filipino and English text for readers aged 9+.

Timothy J. Jorgensen—Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life

An advanced arm and hand prosthesis allows an amputee to hold and control movement of a muffin, egg, soda can, and even a wine glass. It soon may be possible for a prosthesis-wearer to enjoy the sensation of petting a dog, Timothy Jorgensen reports. In Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life, he explores electricity from a biological perspective, detailing its role in health.

Mark A. Marchand: The Answer From Surveyor 3

Suppose Lee Harvey Oswald was not alone when he shot and killed President John Kennedy from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas in 1963. Did Kennedy’s plan to send humans to the moon trigger his assassination? In his novel, The Answer from Surveyor 3, Mark A. Marchand provides an out-of-this-world explanation for questions conspiracy theorists still debate.

Brendan Borrell—The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine

“Researchers who run human clinical trials often say that mice lie and monkeys exaggerate, but everyone watching the progress of the Moderna vaccine was eager to hear the reports from the animal world,” Brendan Borrell relates. He interviewed 150 sources for his gripping in-the-moment narrative, The First Shots: the Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine.

Lenora Todaro—Sea Lions in the Parking Lot: Animals on the Move in a Time of Pandemic

During pandemic shutdowns, with more people staying home, kangaroos hopped on Adelaide, Australia’s streets. Coyotes trotted on the beach in the daytime near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. These appearances remind us that humans often disrupt animal habitats and can do more to protect them, Lenora Todaro writes in Sea Lions in the Parking Lot: Animals on the Move in a Time of Pandemic.

Linda Zajac—Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals

“Animals are motion masters. They skitter, scuttle, grip, glide, spring, cling, & more,” Linda Zajac reports in Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals, an illustrated book for 4-9 year-olds. Robots that mimic animal motion help surgeons reach into tight spaces, explore the seafloor, aid in search & rescue missions, and perhaps soon may serve as first responders for wildfires & other dangers.