PATRICIA BARNES-SVARNEY            Science Writer/Editor/Weaver
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Why of My Book Writing



I’ve written a bunch of non-fiction books (and hundreds of magazine articles, for that matter) that includes the physical and life sciences, health, and even mathematics. Some are for kids, while others (the more recent ones) are for general audiences (which can be readers anywhere from 10 to 100 years old). It’s funny: When I tell people I write mainly about science, they always assume I mean textbooks. Although some books I’ve written have been used to augment studies on certain subjects (such as a dinosaur book being used in some geology departments), my non-fiction science books are for the readers who are interested in a certain facet of science and want to learn so much more. A friend of mine once said that I was a “translator of science for humans.” Sounds about right…



For non-fiction lovers, here are some of my books and why I’ve written them:




            These books were written by me and co-author Thomas Svarney. They are in a question and answer format—in a way, all those questions you want to ask about a subject and may have been afraid to ask! Or just cool ideas and topics we found along the way as we researched the books. We have covered many topics Handy Answer series—dinosaurs, the ocean, geology, mathematics, biology and anatomy, nutrition, and diabetes. Each topic is extensively researched (Thomas is an excellent research scientist). Research papers from peer reviewed journals, along with information from various research groups and organizations, government agencies, and university departments are used to write the books. This information is then interpreted into easy-to-understand language in the question and answer format. The books have all been wonderful to research and write—and there is also one coming out in 2018. Stay tuned for the title, coming soon!!!




In addition to the Handy Answer series, I’ve also delved into the world of the physical science (some with Thomas Svarney, some not). One of my favorites from Running Press: When the Earth Moves: Rogue Earthquakes, Tremors, and Aftershocks. This book has been well received and explains why we seem to have earthquakes in the usual places—but also places you wouldn’t expect. For instance, there’s mention of earthquakes and the New York City area...

Another one of my other favorite books is with Thomas, Skies of Fury: Weather Weirdness Around the World (Simon & Schuster). In our many travels, we’ve always been astounded by all kinds of weather phenomena. And as global climate change has increased in the past decade, many of the things we wrote about almost 20 years ago have occurred and others are coming to fruition (unfortunately). What comes to mind? There are places that have experienced extremely extreme weather over the past few years—including where we live and experiences of friends who live elsewhere.

And of course, there is another interesting book we wrote: A Paranoid’s Ultimate Survival Guide (Prometheus Books) that has nothing to do with surviving in the wilds of Patagonia, but has to do with surviving every day occurrences—in the home and in the backyard. There’s a bit of humor intermixed with the possible problems (where do those balls of lightning flying through windows come from anyway) and some solutions.





One of the more interesting subjects I cover (especially as I get older) has to do with health. And it’s not only me—of all the topics covered in magazines, newspapers, online sources, etc., health is the biggest attraction (if you don’t count the antics of celebrities). Of course, it comes as no surprise. We all want to know how to live healthier, with less illness or disease, and, for some, with minimal effort or pain or extreme cravings for chocolate. One of my NON-FICTION books has a very misleading name: Why Do Women Crave More Sex in the Summer? 120 Questions Women Keep Asking and That Keep Everyone Else Guessing. I’m not quite sure why they decided on the last part of this title (or the beginning, for that matter), but what the book is really about (and Penguin/Random House has it listed under “Women’s Fiction,” which it is not) is not sex, but questions women may ask about all sorts of health and women’s science issues, with a dash of humor. Topics like:

  • Did you ever wonder why lipstick sticks on your lips?
  • Why do women seem to adore bling?
  • Why do women and men seem to see, hear, and sometimes speak differently? (hint: brain wiring helps explain some differences)

It was a very fun book to write, and I asked many women about what questions they would like to see covered. I was also able to thank most of my female friends (and some males who had great questions) for their input. Grab a copy—it’s a fun read in spring, summer, fall, or winter.


For fiction lovers, here are some of my notes on my fiction books:




My first Star Trek book came out in 1996—and it was an honor to write. I’ve always loved Star Trek, and have been following it for 50 years (I was quite young back then… <g>)! I started with TOS (the original series) then fell for Star Trek: The Next Generation when it came out in 1991. My first Star Trek book came out in 1996, and I was able to write about young Beverly Crusher, along with Data (yeah!) and the groundskeeper at Starfleet Academy, Boothby. It was a dream come true (I won’t tell you how many unpublished stories I used to write about Star Trek when I was in my teens—good groundwork for later years). After the TNG book, I was asked to write about young Katherine Janeway, the eventual captain of the Voyager. In this Star Trek: Voyager book, I was able to mention a young Geordi LaForge (from TNG) and a cast of characters—including many aliens of my own creation. Very nice, indeed.



The Secret World of Alex Mack was like playtime for me. I tend to like to write about people who are sweeter than most, although they do have some failings, but overcome those failings by intelligence, helping others, etc. So the Alex Mack books were great for me to write—all three of them. Alex Mack had some great powers, too, and didn’t even need a Harry Potter wand to do them! One of my favorites was when she turned into a puddle and moved along, oozing and squeezing into spots. Oh, to have such abilities. It would have been a great way to get out of an office meeting or an embarrassing situation…



Sabrina, the Teenage Witch was right along the same lines as Alex Mack—a good kid who just so happened to have some super-duper powers. The two Sabrina books I wrote were actually non-fiction—the Magic Handbook was a group of science experiments, while the Universe book talks about the solar system and universe. I was also able to put in sidebars “written” by Sabrina’s cat, Salem—and since I have cats, it was easy to write in that “I know more than you do, but not really” cat-titude! (and I think I may be part feline sometimes!)…

I also wrote a Salem’s Tales book for younger readers (Salem’s Tales: Teacher’s Pet), and that was also a hoot to write—the same cat-titude, and throw in something young readers could relate to—going to school. The book was also translated into several languages, including one copy I received that was written in Hebrew. Amazing…



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