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August 14, 2018

The working life of a writer is solitary. You sit alone in a room, hour after hour, day after day, and you create pages. It takes years to write a book (five years, for me, is about the minimum on a complex nonfiction project), and once that book is finished, tangledPile330edited, revised, fact-checked, printed, and published, the extrovert part of the job begins. If you’re lucky, people invite you to talk about what you’ve written. And you do that, because, extrovert or introvert, you want folks to buy the book and read it. Social media and public radio and podcasts are nowadays hugely significant dimensions of book promotion; among the nice things about them is that they don’t require you to leave home. But the book tour in its classic form—get on a plane, go to a series of cities, do interviews in person, speak at a bookstore, sign copies—is still an important element too.

My new book, The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, has just been published (August 14, 2018) by Simon & Schuster. So here I go. For those of you who might be interested:

Last week I began the effort by taping an interview with Scott Simon, for his Weekend Edition Saturday show at NPR. Who wouldn’t want to exchange thoughts with this astute and companionable radio man? Scott was so nice as to say, before we started recording, that the book had changed the way he sees life on Earth. The interview ran on Saturday, August 11, and is archived here: https://www.npr.org/2018/08/11/637780618/understanding-horizontal-gene-transfer-in-the-tangled-tree

Now the travel begins, intermittent over the next month or two while I continue on work another National Geographic story and try also to live life.

Washington, DC: I’ll be at Politics & Prose, a famous bookstore on Connecticut Ave., on Wednesday evening, August 15, at 7 pm.

Chicago: Next day I’ll scoot up there, in time for an event at the American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Ave., at 6:30 pm. Annie Minoff, of the Science Friday team, will interview author Sy Montgomery and me about the craft of science writing. The following day, from a studio still in Chicago, I’ll talk with Science Friday host Ira Flatow, for a live segment of the show airing that afternoon.

Back to Bozeman: an event at my faithful home-town independent, The Country Bookshelf, on August 22 at 6 pm.

Then to Livingston, Montana: home of many of my writer friends, including those who run Elk River Books, where I’ll do a talk and signing on August 23, at 7 pm.

Missoula the following week: Fact & Fiction, another fine independent, on August 30, a Thursday, again at 7 pm. (This bookstore is a short walk from The Depot restaurant, on Railroad Street, where I worked as a bartender in 1975-76. Just FYI, in case you’re hungry or thirsty after my presentation. Tell ‘em DQ sent you. Any employee under the age of 60 will say: Who?)

In September, after the summer and the Beach Reading season have officially ended, I’ll be doing more travels to distant cities, including Seattle (Town Hall), Portland (Powell’s Books), and elsewhere. More on those visits, places, and venues closer to the time. Somebody, some crotchety writer, once said: The only thing worse than being asked by your publisher to do a book tour is not being asked to do a book tour. But I’ve got a sort of extrovert hiding inside my writerly introvert, and I enjoy meeting people—such as you—who deeply appreciate books, and who recognize that nonfiction writing, though ever responsible for accuracy, is also, like fiction, an imaginative art.

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