The Next Big Thing
My friend and neighbor Amy Rogers Nazarov just invited me to participate in the Next Big Thing author blog chain. We’re supposed to answer a list of questions, then forward them to other authors we know, who forward it to more authors they know, etc. etc.
What is your working title of your book (or story)?
What Are Global Warming and Climate Change? Answers For Young Readers. I wanted the title to be in the form of a question, since the text of the book is done in Q-and-A format.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wrote another book called Nuclear Reactions in 2002 for the University of New Mexico Press. It was a history of the world’s first underground garbage dump for radioactive waste. (I am hoping to find the time to do an updated paperback edition.) My editor at UNM Press asked me in 2006 if I wanted to write a book for a series intended to interest children of middle-school age in science and environmental topics. His initial thought was that it would be on nuclear energy, but I was becoming more aware about climate change becoming an extremely pressing issue and successfully persuaded him to let me write about that instead.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s sort of a reference book. I often get asked if it’s a textbook, and it’s not really intended as one, but could be used in that way. The target audience is kids aged 9 and up, but I’ve had many adults tell me they appreciated the book as well. I’ve given talks at schools with audiences ranging from very smart third-graders to high school juniors, and all seem to have understood what I’m talking about.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Using an easy-to-understand question-and-answer format, along with photographs, illustrations and graphics, What Are Global Warming and Climate Change? covers the science, politics and potential solutions behind one of the most pressing issues — arguably the most pressing issue — confronting the planet.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The publisher is the University of New Mexico Press and it is part of its “Worlds of Wonder” series.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote the first draft within a few months, but spent many months after that getting feedback from scientists, environmentalists and kids themselves.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The obvious answer is Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The original version of that book seemed aimed more at high schoolers and older. At the time I proposed my book, there were few if any books aimed at middle-school audiences.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I had the idea for my book before Gore’s movie and book, but it certainly was an inspiration. I was inspired mainly by the accumulation of indisputable scientific evidence that climate change is real, and it’s a serious threat. I do address why there are skeptics (some people have an inherent mistrust of political and scientific institutions, and science can yield answers that can be interpreted in different ways). But I emphasize that there should be no argument that this is occurring and that people are responsible.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Since beginning his second term, President Obama has come out strongly on the urgent need to tackle this issue. If this is going to become a prominent part of the political debate, I think people need some grounding in it.
What other writers should we keep an eye out for?
I have recently gotten to know Hedrick Smith, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose latest book Who Stole The American Dream? is — and I realize this is an overused term — an absolute must read.
My friend and ex-colleague Bob Benenson has given up politics for writing about food, drink and Chicago for his wonderful blog.
An old college buddy, Phil Van Munching, has become an entertaining author and columnist.