Thursday, November 24, 2011

Behind the Scenes View of Rebecca Skloot's Process

Hi readers and writers,
I really found Rebecca Skloot's book on the origin and fate of HeLa cells to be fascinating, and I loved seeing it rise in the best-sellers list.  Now she has given a blog interview that opens up her writing process and her research process for us to see.  In the part at the end, she actually posted copies of pages of her research notebook at the time she first interviewed Deborah Lacks by telephone about Henrietta and found she didn't know her favorite color and longed for more information about her, but then refused to talk more with Rebecca for a year and a half.  She also included a page in which she got advice about how to dig for the information she knew Deborah wanted, using black churches and particularly their pastors, as helpers and sources of information.  I can't think of anything I've read about writing that moved me more than seeing how she had to struggle to get this story.  She wrote and rewrote it until it read seamlessly, weaving together the medical and the personal narratives, but here is the raw material.  If you're interested in how great books are written, I really recommend this blog post:  

Cheers, Laura

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK, got to see this. I know she must have been excited to talk with Deborah before she backed off. Hard to write with sources who are living. All the biographers say wait until your person dies!