Recent Book Projects
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the books I’ve written. I’m a professional writer, so I’ve written about any number of subjects, but I have to say that the books I loved writing the most – and for that reason, the best -- were those that told someone’s life story. Memoirs. Autobiographies and biographies. Not unlike the book you have inside you at this moment.
Bowling For The Mob: A Memoir of Redemption
Rodale Press, 2015
Bob Perry’s amazing memoir, for which I essentially acted as ghostwriter, channeling his voice and story. (In this case, according to my agreement with Bob, I was given secondary author credit on the cover.) This is the book that may well wind up as a movie. It’s gotten rave reviews almost from the moment it was published. Among them, this one from “Brooklyn Butch,” of ActionBowlers.com: “This is a brilliant book… and the ending is the most incredible, unbelievable true sports story I’ve ever read or seen in a movie -- and I’ve seen them all!”
Mr. Hornaday’s War
Beacon Press, 2012
How A Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lonely Crusade For Wildlife That Changed the World. A serious biography-memoir of a famous 19th century conservationist named William Temple Hornaday, often credited with saving the American bison from extinction. “Mr. Hornaday’s War is essential for anyone interested in U.S. conservation history and the wildlife protection movement… Bechtel deserves unstinting admiration for writing such a smart, thoroughly researched, landmark biography,” wrote famous historian and bestselling author Douglas Brinkley.
National Geographic, May 19, 2009,
A book coauthored with famous tornado chaser Tim Samaras, for National Geographic Books. It’s partly Tim’s personal memoir, partly the science of storms. It was a great honor to work beside Tim and his “Twistex” tornado-chasing team for part of two seasons in the field, following the “finger of God” as the great winds took us from Kansas and Nebraska to the Dakotas, Wyoming and beyond. Tragically, Tim was killed in a massive F5 tornado in Oklahoma not too long after this book was published. Though it was not intended to, the book became part of the lasting legacy of his short life. I’m proud of that.
Roar Of The Heavens
A novelistic retelling of 1969’s Hurricane Camille, a monster hurricane that made landfall in Mississippi the same weekend as Woodstock. Essentially, the book is the human memoir of a savage storm. I worked with a severe storm meteorologist to tell the scientific story, but what I really loved – what made the book sing – were the voices of those who lived through it.
Katherine, It’s Time
HarperCollins 1989. Published in paperback by Avon Books (1989, reissued in 1990;
Optioned, twice, by movie production companies.
My first book was a memoir about a woman with multiple personalities, published by HarperCollins in 1989. This amazing project involved telling a story in eight different voices, as well as the voice of her psychiatrist. I dearly hope, for your sake, that you don’t speak in eight different voices! But I mention this to suggest that there is a way to tell almost any kind of story, if you find the right tone, structure and approach.
The Practical Encyclopedia Of Sex and Health
Rodale Press, 1993. Also published as “The Sex Encyclopedia” (Fireside Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, 1993. Foreign-language editions in Chinese and Polish. Listed in a bibliography of authoritative sex guides in Encyclopedia Britannica.
A big, popular guidebook to all things sexual, which became a huge bestseller.
What Women Want
Rodale Press, 2002
Based on hundreds of personal interviews and a national poll, this book attempted to answer age-old questions for men. And, no: I still don’t know what they want!
The Good Luck Book
Workman, 1997. Foreign-language editions in Finnish, Bulgarian, Japanese, Korean, Portugese and Italian. 84,000 copies in print.
“A good luck charm you can read.,” illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist R.O. Blechman.
Growing A Fortune
A little financial book based on a simple idea: 12 investing secrets I learned in my garden. It combines two of my favorite pastimes: Tending the garden and making money in the market.
National Geographic, 2009
A Nation Geographic book about injured or abused dogs treated at the Best Friends animal shelter, in Utah (including Michael Vick’s pit bulls). Who doesn't love a great dog story?