Reflect­ing on her career as a sci­ence writer (she started as a tech­ni­cal writer at IBM before grad­u­at­ing into sci­ence jour­nal­ism), Dava Sobel–author of the award-winning book Lon­gi­tude–offers some thoughts on what it means to be a full-time author of pop­u­lar sci­ence books:

Both my par­ents loved to read, con­vinc­ing me by their behav­ior that the best way to hold someone’s atten­tion was with a book.

The pub­li­ca­tion of Lon­gi­tude in 1995 — and its unex­pected suc­cess - trans­formed me into a full-time author of books. I greatly enjoy the more in-depth research required for book-length projects. Some­one once said to me, “I would hate your job. It’s like writ­ing one col­lege term paper after another.” That’s exactly what it’s like, and exactly what I love best about it. Peo­ple may have the impres­sion that book tours and pub­lic appear­ances are the most excit­ing times in an author’s life. […] But writ­ing is really about sit­ting alone in a room, and the high­lights occur in that room, with no one else as wit­ness, in the small moments of the day when the work goes well.

Dava notes that she is cur­rently work­ing on a play about Coper­ni­cus: a piece she describes as “a com­plete depar­ture” from her usual style, albeit with the famil­iar theme of “the great trans­for­ma­tion of humankind’s world­view through science”.

Of course science-book-as-play isn’t new: Tom Stop­pard’s Arca­dia is a play “con­cern­ing the rela­tion­ship between past and present and between order and dis­or­der and the cer­tainty of knowl­edge” that was short­listed by the Royal Insti­tu­tion for the Best Sci­ence Book Ever award.

via @mocost