In just three weeks, my debut book—Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry—hits shelves in the U.S. The book is my tribute to the most notorious animals on the planet and the awesome weaponry they wield. I talk about the diversity of venomous animals, from the serpents, spiders and scorpions on land to the ocean’s snails, octopus and jellies. It’s a trip around the world and down to the molecular level to reveal how venoms work, and how they might hold the cures to our most hated diseases. The Scientific American Books site for it has links to every which way you could possibly want to pre-order it.
It’s hard to describe how much this book means to me. It’s been a long, windy road to get to this point. Venomous is the melding of my two selves: me, the scientist, and me, the writer. I started blogging in between undergrad and grad school, but for much of my career as a writer, I kept my work separate from my studies. I didn’t write about what I worked on. It wasn’t until I dug deeper into my PhD that I began to blend my science with my blogging and writing. Now, I consider my scientific expertise and viewpoint an integral part of who I am as a writer. Venomous is an extension of what I do here, a more in depth, long-form version tying together many of the themes that I explore in Science Sushi. If you follow this blog, you already know my style, and what to expect from Venomous. If you’re new here, welcome!, and feel free to poke around to get a better sense of me as a writer; if you like what you see, then I hope you’ll check out book.
So far, the early response has been very encouraging. Booklist’s Nancy Bent called it “superbly entertaining popular science” and gave it a starred review. Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus both gave the book positive reviews, and Greg Laden from ScienceBlogs gave it a glowing review, calling it “one of the better science books I’ve read in some time,” and noting that although he’s a biologist, he was “learning something new with every page turn.” You can also hear me talk venoms with Greg and Mike Haubrich on the Ikonokast Podcast.
If you like what you read, I would be grateful for any help with getting the word out about Venomous—talking it up on social media, leaving reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, or however else you wish to show your support. If you want to buy a signed copy, hit up the Book Passage website.
Below is a brief description of the book, what others have thought of it, and a list of where you can find me in the near future. This information can also be found on my website, and will be updated regularly.
Mahalo nui loa,
From the Book Jacket:
A thrilling tale of encounters with nature’s masters of biochemistry
In Venomous, molecular biologist Christie Wilcox investigates venoms and the animals that use them, revealing how they work, what they do to the human body, and how they can revolutionize biochemistry and medicine today.
Wilcox takes us from the coast of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru in search of the secrets of these mysterious animals. We encounter jellyfish that release microscopic venom-packed darts known to kill humans in just two minutes, a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging throughout the body, and a stunning blue-ringed octopus with saliva capable of inducing total paralysis. How could an animal as simple as a jellyfish evolve such an intricate, deadly poison? And how can a snake possess enzymes that tear through tissue yet leave its own body unscathed? Wilcox meets the fearless scientists who often risk their lives studying these lethal beasts to find out, and puts her own life on the line to examine these species up close. Drawing on her own research on venom chemistry and evolution, she also shows how venom is helping us untangle the complex mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases.
Venomous reveals that the animals we fear the most actually hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change the way you think about our natural world.
”Reader be warned: Venomous sinks its fangs into you and won’t let go. Christie Wilcox is as remarkable as the hemorrhage-inducing caterpillars and mind-controlling wasps in the pages of her book: a molecular biologist who can write. I’m recommending Venomous to every friend who wonders what venom scientists are so excited about and to every student who asks, ‘What is left in nature, for me to discover?'”
―Leslie Boyer, M.D., Director of the VIPER Institute at the University of Arizona
“Having just been stung by a scorpion while camping in the Mexican desert, I have a renewed interest in venomous creatures. But you don’t need to have been stung or bitten to be utterly captivated by this important and original book. Christie Wilcox has a natural gift for storytelling and she gracefully mixes anecdotes and humor with science and spellbindingly gory details about some of the most feared animals on the planet.”
―Mark Carwardine, zoologist
“Christie Wilcox is the perfect guide to the wild and weird world of venomous creatures―a scientist who knows how to tell a vivid story, a story-teller who understands the elegant science of poisons. As a result Venomous succeeds both as an insightful study of the natural world and, equally important, as a fascinating read.”
―Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz-Age New York
“Even at its most sinister, nature can’t help but be fascinating, and in Venomous, Christie Wilcox has created a fitting tribute to one of nature’s most sinister creations of all. She not only provides a tour of the venomous world’s most frightening specimens, but she also dives into the astonishing biology underlying their deadly success.”
―Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex
“Readers of Christie Wilcox’s blog Science Sushi already know her as a candid, curious guide to the myths and much more interesting realities of ocean and land biology. Venomous, her intoxicating exploration of poisonous beasts and the scientists who celebrate them, should bring her the wider audience she deserves.”
―Maryn McKenna, TED speaker and author of Superbug and Beating Back the Devil
Events and Appearances:
- September 14th, 7:00 PM: Books Inc, Berkley, California
- September 17th, 1:00 PM: Book Passage, Corte Madera, California
- September 18th – 23rd: International Society on Toxinology Meeting, Miami, Florida
- September 28th, 12:00 PM: Google, New York, New York