Ann B. Parson—The Birds of Dog: An Historical Novel Based on Mostly True Events

Cover of the book The Birds of Dog: An Historical Novel Based on Mostly True Events by Ann Parson showing the title and 14 photos of birds in natural settings.

The Birds of Dog


Ann B. Parson
Luminare Press, November 10, 2023
Paperback, $20.00, eBook, $9.99
ISBN: 9798886792744, ASIN: BOCM17F1J4

Parson reports:

The Birds of Dog, an historical fiction, opens in the early days of the Boston Society of Natural History (BSNH), closes with the founding of the Audubon Society, and along the way brings together diverse stories about America’s emerging sciences and its first scientists.

Portrait photo of Ann Parson in outdoor setting.

Ann Parson

I’ve always been interested in the history of science. Several years ago, after hearing an intriguing story about why the BSNH, which became Boston’s Science Museum, began, I started adding stories to a folder. A Boston family, the Pickerings, with four forgotten scientists in its midst, caught my attention. Bit by bit, I fashioned a tale around the zoologist Charles Pickering; his cousin Catharine, a curator’s assistant who grows leery of trigger-happy hunters, and James Cutting, a brilliant inventor.

Although the word “science” was in use before 1800, one surprise of my research was finding that science itself didn’t become a special discipline until the early 1800s. It then sub-divided into countless branches of study with lightning speed.

Personal biases—my love of nature and loathing of guns—led to my storyline. At first I wasn’t sure whether to make the book fiction or nonfiction. An agent’s suggestion that fiction can be a liberating approach to history proved true. How fun to conjure up a conversation between Benjamin Silliman, the Yale chemist, and Charles Dickens, then visiting Boston, about animalcules in pond water and whether the water was safe to drink!

As a science writer who covers medicine, technology, and the environment, I was prepared to self-publish this book, my first work of fiction. Luminare Press has been a great help. Still, I’ve missed having an agent and publisher’s judgment and support at times. Self-promoting a book is not easy. The best way forward, I’m finding, is to trust that others will be as fascinated by the book’s contents as you are.

What would I do differently? The book took 14 years because I kept putting it on a back burner. I wish I had just kept at it. Then again, as the years passed, I kept finding material that made the storyline stronger.

Contact info:

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Banner image adapted from original photo by Ann Parson.

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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