Okay, it’s true that we will profit from this experiment in a small way—much smaller than I’d like, believe me—because I’ve been contracted to write a book on our no impact experiences by the publishers Farrar, Straus, Giroux (and yeah, I’m totally psyched to be an FSG author).
By profession I’m a writer and by temperament a megalomaniac (though I like to think a nice one). Until now, I’ve happily satisfied my little family’s need for cash (nearly…ok, not even nearly) and my weak ego’s need for recognition by writing history books.
My first book, Fingerprints: The Origins of Crime Detection and The Murder Case That Launched Forensic Science (Hyperion, 2001) intertwines the story of the first-ever murder case solved by fingerprints with the story of the man, Henry Faulds, who first suggested fingerprints as a method of crime scene identification, but who was later cheated out of the credit.
My second book, Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America’s First Shadow War is about the 276 men who, as part of the United States’s first large-scale, behind-the-lines special operation, rallied the French Resistance to attack the Germans and delay their convergence on Normandy. I wrote it because my grandfather, Gerry Miller, was a big wig in the CIA and Operation Jedburgh was part of my investigation into his early career. (And don’t judge a book by its cover: I’m not pro-war and neither is the book!)
I’m proud of both those books, but throughout my career I’ve wanted to have my work align with my political and personal values. That is, I’ve wanted my writing to encourage us all to take care of each other (yes, I’m soppy). Psychologists who are experts in happiness say that the highest pinnacle when it comes to personal satisfaction is to use your highest skills in pursuance of your most dearly held values.
So guess what? With this new contract to write No Impact Man I am officially happy. No Impact Man, the book, is my chance to join the chorus of voices promoting some of the ideas about living and conservation that we all need to hear. I like to think that the fact that my mercenary need to make a living and my writer’s egomaniacal need for bylines line up with the higher of my motives means that there is all the more energy heading in a good direction. One may never get to erase one’s karma but one can use it for some sort of a useful purpose.
Anyway, the book will come out some time in 2009 (assuming the world, me and FSG all still exist). It will be printed and produced in some, yet to be determined, sustainable way. And here is some information about my new publishing home:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux was founded in 1946 by Roger W. Straus. The firm is renowned for its international list of literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s books. Farrar, Straus and Giroux authors have won extraordinary acclaim over the years, including numerous National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and Nobel Prizes in literature.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux 19 Union Square West New York, NY 10003