Happy Birthday, Rebecca Skloot, born 19 September 1972
- I wake up at 5 a.m. (which sucks—I’m not a morning person), and stagger to a nearby coffee shop where I bury myself in my laptop with headphones on to write as long as I can stand it (usually about four hours). Then I go to a different coffee shop where I eat and write as much as I can before I go home for the day to do busywork like email and whatnot because by that point I’m useless.
- Good science is all about following the data as it shows up and letting yourself be proven wrong, and letting everything change while you’re working on it – and I think writing is the same way.
- Growing up with a writer for a father influenced me and my work in many ways. My father really taught me how to see the world through a writer’s eyes, especially when it came to character development.
- When we went out to dinner, we would make reservations as the Howsers, and we’d spend our time making up stories for different people in the restaurant. It was a character development game—we’d talk in accents, invent detailed backstories, even dialogue for what they were saying during dinner.
- Structure is very important to me. I have to know where I’m going before I can write in earnest (though I constantly draft scenes that will go in the book). I used index cards and a very large wall for my book.
- What’s probably most notable about my workspace is that I write while walking at a treadmill desk.
- The type of nonfiction I write is commonly called Creative Nonfiction, which can be a confusing term. Some readers assume, incorrectly, that calling something “Creative Nonfiction” means it’s writing that gets creative with the facts by changing them or making things up. But that’s not the case. Creative Nonfiction (also known as Literary Journalism or Narrative Journalism) is nonfiction that uses the tools normally associated with fiction or film making (scenes, dialogue, narrative structure, etc.), and applies them to a story that is factually accurate (rather than being fiction, which is made up).
Rebecca Skloot is an American writer who specialises in science and medicine. Her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks stayed on The New York Times Bestseller list for more than two years. It was made into a movie by Oprah Winfrey. Visit her website for more writing resources.