BY PO BRONSON
& ANDY MERRYMAN
In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel? Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter? Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated? If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie? What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language? NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s New York Magazine articles on the science of parenting won the magazine journalism award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Clarion Award. Their articles for Time Magazine have won the award for outstanding journalism from the Council on Contemporary Families. Prior to collaborating, Bronson authored five books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller What Should I Do With My Life? Merryman’s journalism has appeared in The Washington Post and The National Catholic Reporter.
Bronson lives in San Francisco, with his wife and two children. Merryman lives in Los Angeles, where she runs a church-based tutoring program for inner-city children.AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Thank you to Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman for agreeing to do an interview for BOOKIN' WITH BINGO. This is my first interview with two authors at once and they were kind to answer some of my questions.
What have you just finished reading?
AM: Alex Wellen's novel, Lovesick. Charming, funny – just an effortless read. Next up: Christopher Buckley's Losing Mum and Pup.
PB: I am reading Motherless Brooklyn. Ashley and I recently learned some about the science of Tourette’s, and since the narrator of Lethem’s novel suffers from the condition, I got intrigued to see Art on the page battle the Science in my head. I am also reading with my son, who is into African American and Native American historical figures – so the YA biographies of Jesse Owens and Crazy Horse.
What books would you say have made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out?
AM: Being a modern classics geek, I admit that reading The Great Gatsby in high school changed my life. I was totally captivated by Daisy – so at the end, when Fitzgerald describes Daisy's voice as full of money, I was just shattered. Then I thought, "So that's what writing is about. That's what a writer does." I immediately decided that I wanted to be a writer – to someday use words that could make people think and feel. After that, I guess would be Tristram Shandy and The Sound and the Fury. I hated them both – literally kept throwing my copies at the wall as I read them. I grew to love Faulkner (still hate Tristram), but I have to admit that they challenged my thinking of what literature was or should be, and that challenge still remains.
PB: Yes, high school English class for me, too. The Stranger. The idea that one day of an observed life was more valuable than a lifetime unobserved. Except I got a C in that class. Clearly the English department and I didn’t see eye-to-eye in how to discuss books.
What gets you started on a new book? A character or story idea or….?
AM: Yes any/all of that. But starting isn't the hard part. It's committing to the idea or story or character – being so sure that you're so in love with it that you're willing to devote the next few years of your life to the material. That's the hard part.
PB: My books arise out of conversations with my most trusted people. I brought the vision of my first novel to my agent, but I didn’t commit to that book until we’d discussed it and he freed me to attack. Since then, all of my 5 subsequent books have gotten started through conversations with my editor and my agent, both. I come to know my real feelings for a project by discussing it with them, and eventually I find a vision I can commit to. Writing and publishing each book has been such a massive undertaking, it has helped tremendously to feel their support at the project’s inception.
What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably don’t know?
AM: I think an eight-hour work day, five-days a week, is working part-time.
PB: There is a lot less plan to my life than it probably appears.
What is your best advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?
AM: I know other writers have answered this by saying to write and read as much as you can – and I completely agree with them. To add to that, I've seen a lot of young writers – especially the school-age kids I tutor – expect perfection from the first word. That means they spend a lot of time staring at blank paper. So I say, "Just get something down. You can fix what you've written, but you can't fix what you never wrote in the first place." Actually, that's advice I occasionally need to hear myself. Note to self: love the rewrite. Rewrites aren't a chore. They're an opportunity to do better.
PB: I disagree with Ashley and the other writers she’s referring to. Don’t read a lot of books. Just don’t. Please don’t. All those books are a distraction. Fall in love with one book, madly in love with it, and let it inspire you to the end of yours.
Also, why are popular visions of writing and writers so often about isolation? I believe writers need community.
What is something you would like to share with us about writing your favorite genre in general?
AM: I don't have a favorite genre to write: I just love the process of writing. While we were writing NurtureShock, people were always asking us which was our favorite chapter. We always answered, "The next one." What we meant was that we loved that, every day, there were new questions to ask and new answers to write about. I guess I have the same approach to writing as a whole: my favorite genre is the thing I'm working on. Or maybe the thing I'm about to start. Because writing is about being passionate about the possible. It's knowing that somewhere out there is a new idea or person or situation I've yet to encounter, but I will, when I arrive at that page of the manuscript. (Beyond that, see my answer to question no. 3.)
PB: I want people to know that Ashley and I sweated over every sentence of this book, every adjective and turn of phrase, just as much (or more) than I sweated over my literary novels. It may be a book about science; it may be a book about parenting or child development; but we are writers, first and foremost. How the story was told, how the story felt line by line, demanded the absolute maximum of my creativity and artistic skill. I simply do not believe there is any literary hierarchy, no form of book or genre is necessarily superior or inferior. I believe in what my mentor and friend Ethan Canin taught me: creativity needs constraints. A blank page does not induce creativity. Creativity needs to be locked up in a prison, and then unimaginable inventions will begin.
I greatly appreciate this interesting interview from the authors. It was very interesting hearing different views on the same question.
Thanks to Anna and all my other friends
at Hachette Book Group for sponsoring
this interesting book Giveaway! I have
three copies of NURTURE SHOCK to win!
**U.S. AND CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY
**NO P. O. BOXES, PLEASE!
**EMAIL MUST BE IN YOUR COMMENT
**COMMENTS MUST BE ENTERED SEPARATELY
(OF ELSE THEY ONLY COUNT AS ONE)
HOW TO ENTER:
+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT IF YOU ARE A GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT FOLLOWER (SIGN UP AS I AM HOPING TO CATCH THE 400TH FOLLOWER FOR A BIG PRIZE)---OR TELL ME IF YOU ARE ANOTHER KIND OF FOLLOWER
+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK AND LEAVE A LINK FOR ME TO FOLLOW
6 PM, EST, SEPTEMBER 11
HERE ARE ALL THE BLOGS YOU
CAN VISIT DURING THIS TOUR
TO FIND OUT MORE AND ENTER
GOOD LUCK TO ALL!
http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com - Aug. 31 Q&A and giveaway
http://www.sageandsavvy.com/ - Aug. 31 review and giveaway
http://bridget3420.blogspot.com - Aug. 31 giveaway
www.momdotcom.net - Sept. 1 giveaway
http://debbiesworld.wordpress.com - Sept. 1 giveaway
http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/ - Sept. 1 giveaway
www.busyjulieblog.blogspot.com - Sept. 1 review and giveaway
http://metroreader.blogspot.com/Sept. 2 review and giveaway
http://booksoulmates.blogspot.com/ - Sept. 2 giveaway
http://nightdweller20.wordpress.com - Sept. 3 giveaway
www.mamalatinatips.com - Sept. 4 review and giveaway
http://reviewfromhere.com/ - Sept. 5
http://takemeaway-jennala9.blogspot.com/ -Sept. 5 Q&A & giveaway
http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com/-Sept. 5 review & giveaway
http://www.theglobeandthearts.blogspot.com-Sept.5review & giveaway
http://ilratb.blogspot.com/ - Sept. 6 Q&A, review, & giveaway
http://ajourneyofbooks.blogspot.com - Sept. 7 Q&A & giveaway
http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.comSept. 7 Q&A and review
www.thisbookforfree.com - Sept. 7 review and giveaway
http://jmomfinds.amoores.com/ - Sept. 7 review and giveaway.
http://bethsbookreviewblog.blogspot.com/Sept7review;Sept.8Q&A& giveaway http://aparkavenueprincess.blogspot.com/Sept. 9 review& giveaway
http://knitpurlgurl.blogspot.com/ - Sept. 10 giveaway
http://review.nanashi-inc.net - Sept. 10 review and giveaway
www.ultimatebookhound.blogspot.com -Sept. 11 review & giveaway
http://libraryqueue.blogpspot.com - Sept. 11 review.