Jeff Glor talks to Rebecca and Floyd Skloot about "The Best American Science Writing 2011"
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to edit the book?
Rebecca and Floyd Skloot: We've long believed that it's important for science to get out to the general public in a way that's both creative and accessible, because science is such an essential part of every day life, and so few people are comfortable engaging with it. Most people think of it as a boring or scary topic, but it's far from that. When pulling together the essays for this book, we were inspired by the idea that science writing finds its best materials in the everyday world around us: It's not just in labs and schools and hospitals, but in living rooms, kitchens, grocery stores, meeting rooms, on crowded streets, ball fields and plates of sushi. It's story-telling about real world phenomena, and it's being published everywhere -- newspapers, books, magazines, blogs, even Twitter and Facebook.
R&FS: There are so many stories published each year about science -- wading through all of them was an enormous undertaking. We were a bit worried that it would be hard for us to decide which ones to include in the collection and that we might have to duke it out over a few of them or beg the series editors to let us make the book longer so we could include more pieces. But in the end, that wasn't the case at all: It was easy for us to settle on what we thought were the year's strongest pieces -- we are both drawn to the same things in good science writing, and we got a lot of joy out of that.
R&FS: Working hard to become writers.
RS: I recently finished Susan Orlean's new book, "Rin Tin Tin," which is an absolute joy. I'm reading "Geek Love" right now, by Kathleen Dunn -- it's set in Portland, where I grew up and where Floyd still lives, and it's a wonderful story that raises important ethical questions about genetic manipulation through a wonderful fictional story.
FS: I'm reading Claire Tomalin's new biography of Charles Dickens and, as a judge for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes in fiction and first fiction, novel after novel after short story collection after novel.
JG: What's next for you?
RS: I'm preparing a young adult version of my bestselling book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and consulting on a film adaptation the book being produced for HBO by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball. I am also beginning work on my next book, which has just been announced by my publisher online here (hint: it has something to do with animals).
FS: I am currently giving talks for my newly released collection of short stories, "Cream of Kohlrabi," and nearing completion of a book about the art of making necessary adjustments in the plans, hopes, and dreams that shape a life, tentatively titled "Sway Me Smooth."
For more on "The Best American Science Writing," visit the Harper Collins website.