Christie Wilcox: Venomous

Venomous cover

Venomous cover


Christie Wilcox
Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux/August 9, 2016/$26.00
ISBN-10: 0374283370; ISBN-13: 978-0374283377

Wilcox reports:

My popular science book debut all started with an email from Eric Nelson, who would become my agent at the Susan Rabiner Literary Agency, back in January of 2013. He was a fan of my blog, and wondered if I’d ever thought about writing a book. I had, but didn’t think anyone would give me a chance so early in my writing career. Eric gave me the push I had needed, and within a week, we were working together on the proposal for Venomous — a topic based on my dissertation research. I nearly fainted when, eight months later, he told me of an offer from Scientific American/FSG. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit.

Christie Wilcox

Christie Wilcox

Venomous allowed me to have the kinds of adventures I’d always dreamed of. Ever since I read Douglas Adams’ Last Chance To See as a child, I have wanted to travel to exotic places, and meet the world’s most awesome inhabitants. My love for animals was what led me to science in the first place, and it has continued to fuel both my research and writing careers. When I signed my contract, I couldn’t believe someone was actually going to pay me to venture to Australia, Indonesia, and Peru to write about venomous creatures and their incredible chemical cocktails.

The only downside was timing: I made the mistake of committing to a book as a Ph.D. candidate. While the overlap between my studies and the book’s topic gave me a head start when it came to research, I essentially had signed up to write two very different books at once.

The entire year of 2014 was grueling. I was either in the lab working 15-hour shifts to get my research done, or locked in a room attempting to pen 2000 words a day. It was exhausting and demoralizing, and the experience nearly ruined both science and writing for me. I could not be more grateful to Eric, Susan Rabiner, my editor Amanda Moon who was patient through it all, and my friends and family who kept me from drowning completely.

So my advice to new book writers: don’t over-commit! Writing a book is wonderful and rewarding, and it deserves your commitment of time and energy. I know that I’ve learned my lesson, and I will make sure my decks are fairly clear when I write my next book!

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August 3, 2016

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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