"Q&A With Lisa Rogak"
Book: Rachel Maddow: A Biography
Author: Lisa Rogak
"Lisa Rogak has been writing professionally since 1981. Her books have been mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, Parade Magazine, USA Today, Family Circle, and hundreds of other publications. Her book Barack Obama: In His Own Words hit the New York Times bestseller list, and she has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Haunted Heart: The Life & Times of Stephen King was nominated for an Edgar."
1. What made you want to write the biography of Rachel Maddow and what do you hope readers take away from her life?
2. You have written numerous biographies in the past, what is your basic writing strategy for writing these types of books?
Research, research, and more research. I go down an awful lot of rabbit holes to uncover interviews and articles from my subject's pre-famous days. My secret weapon is the Wayback Machine [aka archive.org] but I recently discovered their books section, where some very old, obscure but very relevant books can reveal quotes and anecdotes that really help to capture the essence of my subject.
They tend to talk a lot more in the early days and clam up as they become more well-known, so it's really important for me to dig for the early stuff.
3. Who are some other influential people in history that you would like to write biographies for?
4. If you weren’t allowed to write your own autobiography who would you like to write your biography and why?
Yikes, what a question! Though there have been some exciting times in my life, I don't think a book about me sitting in sweats with unbrushed hair while I frown at a sentence would make for a particularly compelling read.
5. In a lot of ways, Rachel Maddow has been a ground-breaker in the TV News industry. What special personality traits does she have that allows her to endure the craziness of the world she reports on?
She keeps her eye on the prize when it comes to everything concerning her motto for the show: to increase the amount of useful information in the world, which also applies to the 'Cocktail Moments' segments. She is also able to shut out the world when necessary, a skill which seems to be in diminishing supply these days.
6. Do you think you and Rachel share any similar personality traits, if so which ones?
We both go way overboard on research and we both prefer working on paper as opposed to a screen.
7. Overall, what is your writing process like?
I wake up, have coffee, read the paper and some magazines, write in my journal, then go to the computer. Depending upon the stage of a project, I'll be sending out emails for interviews, going down rabbit holes, gathering up photos for the book insert, or editing. Some days I can focus for only an hour, other days I'll go for four or five. And sometimes I'll chuck it all and take a day trip to go poke around in dusty junk shops.
8. What is your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Butt in chair. Have a place that you just associate with writing so that when you do place said butt in chair, your brain will say, okay, time to start writing. And keep the pen -- or pencil -- moving even if you think you have nothing to say. Eventually, something will break on through.
9. What’s the best book you read last year?
I read a lot of memoirs by women with wretched childhoods, and I tend to juggle at least five different books at the same time.
10. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
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