William Grigg: A Perfectly Natural Murder

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.

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.

Cover: A Perfectly Natural Murder


William Grigg
Independently published, July 30, 2019, $9.98 (print), $2.99 (Kindle)
ISBN-10: 1081552298; ISBN-13: 978-1081552299

Grigg reports:

The idea for the book’s poisonings and the media frenzy that follows came from my experience with the Tylenol poisonings.

The first of those seven Chicago-area poisonings came to light in the fall of 1982 when, wet behind the ears, I had just started work as news director at the Food and Drug Administration. Chicago Sun Times science writer Bill Hines called and said there had been these deaths and what did FDA know about them and what was it doing about them?

William Grigg

William Grigg

I had just arrived and didn’t know a thing, but I sure found out fast—and issued daily fact sheets and did print and TV and radio interviews for many months as tamperings continued, and the whole country got so scared they quit taking any over-the-counter drugs. The tamperer was never discovered but FDA mandated tamper-proof drug packaging. By that time I had got used to 2 a.m. calls from the AP in Chicago “just to check before our last deadline.”

The idea of linking the poisonings to leaks of valuable information at the fictional Athena Insurance for “government girls,” came by way of my wife, Martha Livdahl, who was director of GEICO’s employee publications and its Steering Wheel magazine when GEICO almost went bankrupt.

We liked the old British mysteries, yet yearned for Miss Marple or Poirot to “have a life,” with jobs and problems and passionate relationships. So Martha wrote a modern Gothic called, The Bethnel Inheritance. And I made my two heroes a driven woman lawyer and a raunchy veteran of Afghanistan who suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.

These two characters narrate the story, each with his or her own idea of who might be doing what to whom. Kibitzing their efforts with anger, impatience and un-intended humor is the dead woman herself, who has no clue. Ghost-writing, sperm donation, an inclusive group of friends, the Centers for Disease Control, iPhone photography and pot are all prominent.

Saying more would be a spoiler.

Advice for aspiring authors? Fiction is harder than you think and can take just as much research!

Contact info:

William Grigg, 301-652-1864, 240-247-7408, griggbill@verizon.net

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

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 began working on your book, or had done differently.

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

View Advance Copy archives at https://www.nasw.org/member-article/advance-copy.

Thinking of writing a book? If you are a NASW member, you may access a list of more than 150 books and online resources to help you craft your book proposal, find an agent and funding sources, negotiate your contract, learn about self-publishing, publicize and market your book, and more at https://www.nasw.org/article/write-book.

Send book info and questions about book publishing to Lynne Lamberg, NASW book editor, llamberg@nasw.org.

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

Sep. 11, 2019

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.

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