Deborah from New York: Why do you place such an emphasis on textbooks? Don’t you get tired of revising them?
When I first started teaching there were almost no good college textbooks, so a publisher encouraged me to write one (In the Beginning, which appeared in 1972). Since then, I have written several others, in the belief that good teaching materials are essential tools to educate a new generation of people interested in the past. After years at the game, I have got revisions down to a fairly streamlined process, for there are always new things to learn. The great advantage of textbooks is that they force you to keep up-to-date. At present the textbook universe is undergoing such dramatic change that no one knows where it will be in even five to ten years. But I’ll still be involved.
Ragnar from Olso (and many others): What’s your favorite area of archaeology?
I don’t have one, which is nice, because then I can wander freely through the world of the past. Favorite site: same applies.
Otto from Madrid: Why don’t you write about underwater archaeology?
I have at times, for example a chapter on Turkey’s Uluburun ship in Time Detectives. The field requires specialist expertise and is well published by its practitioners, anyhow.
Margaret from Cincinnati: Where can I find a complete listing of your books?
At the front of my latest one, where they are listed. I have actually written a great deal more than appears there, but those are the significant ones.
Phyllis from Houston: Do you recommend archaeology as a career? How does one go about becoming an archaeologist?
Only if you have an all-consuming passion to be an archaeologist. The field is overcrowded and there are few jobs, except in the rapidly expanding area of cultural resource management (CRM)—basically investigating and monitoring archaeological sites in areas that are being developed. To become a professional archaeologist, you need a minimum of a BA and MA in Archaeology and Anthropology, and a PhD is essential for most academic positions. Don’t contemplate becoming an archaeologist if you want to become rich and unless you have patience, a passion for details, and a sense of humor.
Joe from Missoula, Montana: Do you write much for magazines? I know you used to write a column for Archaeology Magazine, but no longer.
Books keep me so busy that I’ve more-or-less ceased to write much else. I do occasionally write articles for journals like Archaeology Magazine and Current World Archaeology, as well as blogging for the Huffington Post.
William from San Diego: I know you wrote a cruising guide on California waters, but have you written anything else on sailing?
I published a book on anchoring called Staying Put some years ago, which described anchoring as an art as much as a technology, but it’s long out of print. So is a book called Bareboating about chartering. For many years, I wrote articles about all kinds of sailing topics for Sailing Magazine, but I gave it up some time ago. It was time to move on.
Sally from Toronto: Are you a rabbit expert? You write about them in your author blurbs.
No, my wife is. I’m the bunny husband.
James from Philadelphia: I see you are writing a history of fishing. How long did it take you to write?
The entire process took three years once the contract was signed, with about six month’s work before that. This was an exceptionally complex book to research, given the very specialized and scattered literature.
José from Madrid, Spain: What gave you the idea for the fishing book, which I see offered on Amazon?
The idea had been at the back of my mind for some years, as I am a sailor and have met many fishermen. The idea took hold during discussions with my editor at Yale University Press, who was full of ideas about the subject.