Science Book a Day Interviews Katie McKissick


Special thanks to Katie McKissick for answering 5 questions about her recently featured book – What’s in Your Genes?: From the Color of Your Eyes to the Length of Your Life, a Revealing Look at Your Genetic Traits

I’m the author and illustrator of Beatrice the Biologist. I’m a former high school biology teacher who simply loves to talk, write, and read about science. I live in Los Angeles, where I write for a university engineering school’s office of communications, freelance for a few educational publishers, and blog at Symbiartic over at Scientific American. – From Katie’s Homepage

Katie’s Homepage:
Katie’s Twitter:

#1 – What was the impetus for What’s in your genes?

I actually was approached by a publisher. I got an email with “book opportunity” in the subject line, and I almost thought it was spam. But it was indeed a legitimate opportunity involving a book, and I signed a contract and all that fancy stuff, and then hunkered down and started writing!

#2 – Who did you have in mind when you wrote this book? Do you think more people need to know the basics of genetics?

My target age is teenagers and adults who don’t know anything about science and maybe even find it intimidating. And I absolutely think more people need to know the fundamentals of genetics, because we are going to be faced as individuals and as a society with decisions that require this understanding in the future—because of this never ending advance of technology and stuff like that. Personalized medicine, genetic engineering, robot babies… these are important issues!

#3 – You infuse your book with your illustrations. What do your illustrations allow you to do that your text does not?

My illustrations in the book give me a chance to reinforce content in the text with silliness and jokes, especially when you get into the really heavy genetics jargon. It’s all the little asides that I would tell you in person if I was explaining something.

#4 – This is your first length book. How was the process different to Beatrice The Biologist and the other work you have done?

It was completely different. All of my work before this has been self-contained little snippets. While I was writing the book, I was worried that the tone would vary greatly from beginning to end because writing on different days, in different moods, with varying amounts of caffeine can result in very different things! But I really enjoyed throwing myself into a big undertaking like this. It became a way of life for about three months. I wrote at least 700 words a day—that was always my minimum—and I said no to all distractions. I became a hermit, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I should do that again.

#5 – Are you working on any new books/projects that you could tell us about?

I just released a new collection of my comics on Amazon called Ecstatic Dandelions! It’s so much bigger than my last comic collection, so I’m really pleased with that. And full book projects, well, I have some ideas of my own, and I might be co-writing another “science for everyone” kind of books too, but nothing I can say yet. Sorry!

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