Truth Can Be More Fun Than Fiction: Writing Nonfiction
with Mary Roach
Mary welcomes to this class nonfiction writers at all stages of their career. While she writes primarily about the science of the human body, the class is for those who write about any factual topic that fascinates them. Mary’s singular gift is turning commonplace topics into astonishing subject matter. She aims to help each participant identify the most surprising and gripping aspects of their material and tell about them with power, with flair, and with engaging wit.
Although Mary writes primarily about science, she never intended to make it her career. She stated in an interview with TheVerge.com, when asked what exactly got her hooked on writing about science, “To be honest, it turned out that science stories were always, consistently, the most interesting stories I was assigned to cover. I didn’t plan it like this, and I don’t have a formal background in science, or any education in science journalism. Actually I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology.”
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers was a New York Times Bestseller, a 2003 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick, and one of Entertainment Weekly’s “Best Books of 2003.” Stiff also won the Amazon.com Editor’s Choice award in 2003, was voted as a Borders Original Voices book, and was the winner of the Elle Reader’s Prize. The book has been translated into at least 17 languages, including Hungarian (Hullamerev) and Lithuanian (Negyvėliai). Stiff was also selected for the Washington State University Common Reading Program in 2008–2009.
Roach’s column “My Planet” (Reader’s Digest) was runner-up in the humor category of the 2005 National Press Club awards. Roach’s second book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, was the recipient of the Elle Reader’s Prize in October 2005. Spook was also listed as a New York Times Notable Books pick in 2005, as well as a New York Times Bestseller. In 2008, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, was chosen as the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, it was in The Boston Globe Top 5 Science Books, and it was listed as a bestseller in several other publications.