Kenneth Miller—Mapping the Darkness: The Visionary Scientists Who Unlocked the Mysteries of Sleep

[image: 1, right, large]**MAPPING THE DARKNESS:    THE VISIONARY SCIENTISTS   WHO UNLOCKED THE MYSTERIES OF SLEEP**   Kenneth Miller   Hachette Books, October 3, 2023, $32.50, eBook, $16.99   Book ISBN-13: 978-0306924958, eBook ISBN: 978-0306924972  _Miller reports:_   _Mapping the Darkness_ grew out of an assignment for _Discover_ magazine on [recent discoveries in sleep science](, which awakened me to the central

Mapping the Darkness


Kenneth Miller
Hachette Books, October 3, 2023, $32.50, eBook, $16.99
Book ISBN-13: 978-0306924958, eBook ISBN: 978-0306924972

Miller reports:

Mapping the Darkness grew out of an assignment for Discover magazine on recent discoveries in sleep science, which awakened me to the central role that slumber plays in human health.

As I was reporting the story, everyone in my family began having serious sleep troubles, and I became obsessed with the topic. But when I looked for a history of the field aimed at laypeople, I learned that none existed. So—after getting a thumbs-up from an agent who'd asked me for book ideas—I set out to write one.

Portrait photo of Kenneth Miller

Kenneth Miller
Photo by Lexie Scott

I started the research in 2016 while continuing to toil as a freelance journalist. To give the narrative a coherent arc, I decided to structure it around the biographies of four pioneers: Nathaniel Kleitman, the founder of modern sleep science; Kleitman’s students Eugene Aserinsky, who discovered REM sleep, and William Dement, who invented the specialty of sleep medicine; and Dement’s mentee Mary Carskadon, who uncovered an epidemic of sleep deprivation among teenagers and launched a global movement to fight it.

Working evenings and weekends, I read everything I could find about the development of the discipline and the lives of my protagonists—hundreds of scientific papers and news articles; scores of books, dissertations, and unpublished memoirs—and interviewed dozens of sources.

After three years of digging, I wrote a detailed proposal, which my agent sold to Hachette in mid-2020. By then, COVID-19 made travel impossible. A visit to Carskadon’s Brown University lab had to wait until July 2021. It took another six months to access the Kleitman archives at the University of Chicago and the Dement archives at Stanford. There, I found so much fantastic material that I needed several more months to process it.

The book went through three drafts, with the final revision delivered in December 2022—six years after this voyage began. I’m thrilled with the results, however belated, and hope readers will be, too.

My advice to aspiring authors: Find a project that arouses your passion. Give it all you’ve got for as long as it takes. And always warn your editor if you expect delays.

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Banner image adapted from original photo by Kenneth Miller.

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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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