What began for me as life in academia, writing about the world of literature, evolved rather interestingly into a life writing about health and medicine. What I have learned over the years is that whether you are writing about Virginia Woolf or brain surgery, it all comes down to telling a good story, and the reward of sharing one’s learning experience with the world. Having interviewed countless people over the past 30 years, I have come to believe that we all have War and Peace in us. It’s just a matter of accessing it, then telling the story.
One of my most rewarding experiences as a writer was co-authoring neurosurgeon Keith Black’s book, Brain Surgeon: A Doctor’s Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles (Hachette Book Group), which was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for best nonfiction work. Dr. Black grew up in Auburn, Alabama, the son of Robert Black, principal of the town’s all-Black elementary school. What a mind this young man had! At the age of 17, Keith discovered that leukotrienes could be used to open up the blood-brain barrier selectively at tumor sites so that chemotherapeutic drugs could be delivered directly to brain tumors without damaging other parts of the brain. He would go on to develop the world’s first brain tumor vaccine and save thousands of lives in the operating room. This was all featured in his book and in my Time cover story about Dr. Black.
"If you want a rare, behind-the-curtain look at the life of one of the most pre-eminent neurosurgeons in the world, pick up Brain Surgeon."--Sanjay Gupta, MD, Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN
A series of cover stories for Time and USA Weekend Magazine about the threat of “toxic mold” in homes, schools, and the workplace earned me the keynote speaker spot at the EPA Indoor Air conference and led me to write my own book, They’re Poisoning Us, America’s Hidden Epidemic (34th Street Press).
Most recently I collaborated with Dr. Howard Loomis of Logan University on a series of books about the ways different enzyme formulations can be used to target nutritional deficiencies, restoring normal organ function and relieving early symptoms before the body reaches a full state of disease. The books were the culmination of Loomis’s life’s work.
At the National Institutes of Health, I have written for various publications and had the privilege of serving as personal writer for the Director of the National Cancer Institute. One of my key responsibilities there was to oversee publication of the Institute’s annual Progress Report to Congress.
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to delve into a wide range of other topics. For ten years, as the feature writer for Emmy, the Magazine of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, I interviewed dozens of celebrities. Among them were iconic TV news Anchor Walter Cronkite, legendary child star turned Columbia Pictures executive Jackie Cooper, actress Cybill Shepherd, Dirty Dancing and One Life to Live producer Linda Gottlieb, and Public Citizen hero Ralph Nader, who had created New Citizens Productions to communicate social issues to the public through the media.
One of my most memorable experiences came when I covered a midwinter airdrop of supplies to the National Science Foundation stations at the South Pole for Air & Space magazine. I still remember being in the cockpit of the C-141 Starlifter as we descended toward McMurdo station to make our drop. There was nothing for thousands of miles. Not a sign of life. For me, it was a War and Peace moment. You don’t have to be flying over the South Pole to experience such moments, though. We all carry memories of life experiences within us, and the insights these experiences have generated. In sharing them, we are giving our lives meaning.
I would be glad to help you bring your story to life.