As editor of Wonders & Marvels over these past two years, I’ve been pretty quiet about my writing life. But now it’s time to come clean…and I need your advice.
My own book, Blood Work: A Tale of Murder and Medicine in the Scientific Revolution, is coming out early next spring. To quote the catalogue copy: Blood Work is a “a sharp-eyed exposé of the deadly politics, murderous plots, and cutthroat rivalries behind the first blood transfusions in seventeenth-century Europe.” I didn’t write that, my publisher did–but sounds pretty good to me!
The first blood transfusions were animal-to-human: cows and lambs to humans (yes, you read that right). They were also deadly (no surprise there). Who knew physicians during the 17th century would resort to murder to stop frightening advances in science?
I spent about 5 years researching this book, and about 2 years writing it. I finished the draft last fall, on Halloween night to be exact. Between January and March, my editor and her assistant at W.W. Norton (who are both simply brilliant) helped me navigate revisions. I rewrote, reordered, and ripped apart nearly every word of the book. It was hard to do, but I’m really happy with how it all turned out.
The manuscript is now in copyediting. In fact, I’m anxiously hoping the marked manuscript will arrive before I leave for France, where I’ll be teaching this summer. Departure: in 2 weeks.
Even though we’re still 10 months away from the release date, things are speeding up on the publishing side of things. I was in New York City last week to meet with my editors and publicist to talk about pre-release nuts-and-bolts. And then, just this morning, I discovered that Norton already has beautiful webpage up for the book. Take a peek here! Then there’s also the author page…wow. Wow.
All very exciting, and truthfully, a little overwhelming. I’ve published books before, but this is my first experience working with a top-notch trade publisher and an editor who has worked with some of my heroes. (e.g., Roy Porter, gulp!) But so far, so very good.
Here, now, is where I need your help:
Wonders & Marvels has been a sandbox where all of us who are history geeks can play. It’s not about me, it never has been, it never will be. It’s a place where great authors can share fascinating stories about the past. As W&M Editor, I’ve kept myself in the background as a choreographer of sorts to this fabulous enterprise. So now I’m trying to figure out whether and how much to come out and play.
Please take a minute to answer a couple of questions:
*To what degree do you want to know more about: me as a professor, a bibliophile, a parent, a geek? What about the upcoming book? The publishing journey? Or is all of that better on my author website?
*How can I be helpful to you as avid book readers and/or writers? What questions do you have about research, history, writing, publishing? Maybe a once-a-week column on W&M where I take questions? If so, we need to come up with a pithy name for it!
I’ve also been thinking about trying my hand with video. This summer would be perfect for it.
*Would you be interested in some videoblogs on French history and historical sites? Little Geek and I will be traveling ’round Europe a bit too…so lots of potential there as well. Perhaps even videos of some of the places where my research for Blood Work has taken me?