David B. Williams: Too High and Too Steep

Cover: David B. Williams: Too High and Too Steep

Cover: David B. Williams: Too High and Too Steep


David B. Williams
University of Washington Press, September 3, 2015, $29.95
ISBN: 9780295995045

Williams reports:

Too High and Too Steep is an outgrowth of my long term interest in the intersection between people and the natural world in the urban environment. Seattle is an ideal place to explore this relationship, because Seattleites have long been influenced by the city’s topography, and in turn have drastically changed the landscape through unprecedented engineering projects. These include removing an entire hill (Denny Hill), filling in 2,500 acres of tideflats, and replumbing the largest lake in the area. We are still doing it through projects such as the SR 99 tunnel and its ill-fated boring machine, Bertha, and a new seawall.

David B. Williams

David B. Williams

Regarding the nuts and bolts of the book: I had been rejected by two publishers. One day I had coffee with the new acquisitions editor of the University of Washington Press. The conversation was not supposed to be about the book, but I still told her about it. Surprisingly, she replied that the Press was hoping to pay authors more advance money. Wow, what a novel concept. Six weeks later I had a contract. By the way, this is the second time an informational interview with an editor has led to a book contract.

Additional funding came through public agencies that I had previously received grants from, the city of Seattle and King County. I have found that local funders are often a great source of money as there is less competition than with national sources. I learned of these funders by reading the acknowledgment pages of local authors.

The research was a blast. I dove into local archives, interviewed historians and scientists, and went out in the field, which allowed me to meet a central goal of mine — making the history tangible by telling the stories of individuals, providing photos and maps, and reporting on the modern landscape so that readers could find clues that helped them understand the past and the changes that were made. My highlight was finding someone who experienced the great Denny Hill regrade, and who had lived in the last house standing on the hill.

Contact info:

NASW members: will your book be published soon? Take advantage of this opportunity for shameless self-promotion.

Tell your fellow NASW members how you came up with the idea for your book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. Include what you wish you had known before you started this project, or had done differently.

See https://www.nasw.org/advance-copy-submission-guidelines.

Send info and images to Lynne Lamberg, NASW book editor, llamberg@nasw.org.

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.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit www.nasw.org/advance-copy-submission-guidelines for information on submitting your report.

Publication of NASW author reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of any publication or the ideas, values, or material contained within or espoused by authors or their books. We hope this column stimulates productive discussions on important topics now and in the future as both science and societies progress. We welcome your discussion in the comments section below.