Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nonfiction Panel: The Rock Stars of Nonfiction, part 2

BIG laugh in the room when Deborah Heiligman agrees with the point of checking back with your interviewees and letting them read your manuscript to check it... for Charles and Emma Darwin!

Ken Wright is asking great substantive questions, and we're all learning a ton.

Here are the website links (and some great quotes from the session) for these amazing, passionate and so articulate nonfiction authors:

Tanya Lee Stone

"Almost Astronauts started out as a picturebook!... Trust yourself and ask yourself "What is the story I need to tell." (Rather than focusing on the kind of book you think it's going to be.)

"If you don't have a point of view, why are you telling the story?"

Elizabeth Partridge

"You want to have multiple layers in your nonfiction" If it's too straightforward, it will be boring.

advice she still sticks by:

"Have emotion in every single paragraph - every paragraph should have emotional

Deborah Heiligman

"We're all trying to do something original"

her editor told her

"Let the content dictate the form"

(Moral: stay flexible to what you discover - even if it diverges from your proposal.)

"Everything I put in the book has to be in service to the main story you want to tell" (like for Charles and Emma, even for the details of the ship voyage, the ones she included all resonated to the love story that was the story she wanted to tell!)

Susan Campbell Bartoletti -

Tells the story of how she was contracted to write a book on American involvement in World War II, and how it ended up being a book about Hitler Youth instead! Which was her Newbury Honor nonfiction book "Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow."

She also related going down to Arkansas to visit the KKK today as research for her upcoming historical nonfiction on the KKK - and how that helped bring the story to life.

And to finish, Deborah Heligman paraphrased a beautiful quote from Isaac Bashevitz Singer:

Is it a story?

Does is have a beginning, middle and end?

Is it a story that needs to be told?

Is it a story that only I can tell?

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