I love me some Mary Roach, so much so that I picked GRUNT, her latest, as my book club pick for the workplace book club that I am in. Low and behold, only a few short months after we read the book and everyone enjoys it, she comes to Milwaukee for a talk. Hooray! So a group of 4 of us went to check her out.
Also, some of you may have seen mine and Mary's chitter chat on the twitter the day before: (on the tweet I sent I had that GIF of Loki from Avengers hanging out of a car window going YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!)
I saw a paper once about a guy who committed suicide that way. Stuck head out window. See u soon!— Mary Roach (@mary_roach) September 28, 2017
We weren't allowed to film or take pictures during the event but, being the book blogger that I am, I had brought a notepad with me to take notes! So, the format was a conversation between Mary and a local, public radio personality and then they took some questions.
(I'm obviously paraphrasing these questions and answers because I didn't have a tape recorder and I was trying to drink my Heineken and take notes and listen. So none of these quotes are the "" type of quotes).
Radio guy: Do you think science writing is a service to scientists?
Mary: Acts as translator and a massive filtration system between the scientists/science and the general public. Spending hours in the basement of a library or a dusty archives to find something that really grabs her attention and then finding a way to make it so that is more approachable for the average reader.
Radio guy: Why are you a science writer and not a scientist?
Mary: No advanced math! She also said she had a great physics teacher but a terrible biology teacher who made everything dull and boring, so she thought that maybe if she had had better science experiences in school she would have stuck more with science. Though, she said she has an admittedly short attention span, so journalism and writing is good for that.
Radio guy: Some question about how she captures a scene/what kind of notes she takes/ how she takes notes. Something like that.
Mary: She has a tape recorder on for her interviews, especially because she wants to get the science words right. Shes takes notes by hand on the people that she is actually interviewing, the situation around them. She always carries two tape recorders just in case one breaks, and she hates pens with caps! In her heart she always wanted o be a travel writer, so she doesn't mind going to the far flung places to chase a lead! GRUNT started when she went to India to chase down a story about really hot peppers and it ended in a government lab who was trying to make leech repellant.
Radio guy: Was it hard to get people to talk to you because of government agencies and secrecy and war and whatever?
Mary: No! People were very open about what they were doing and are prouod of what they are doing so they want to share. Mary herself was shocked she didn't run into more roadblocks that way.
Then she told a couple of stories from GRUNT, which we all kind of already know because we read the book so I didn't take any notes.
People got to ask questions and I got to ask what she is reading right now and she said THIS.
So it lasted about an hour and then there was the signing. So, I got a copy of GRUNT as an ARC, so I didn't have a physical copy to sign so she signed my Kindle. She was like, oh my gosh are you sure? And I was like hell yeah! So she did. (Mary was in entirety, funny and happy and sweary and just all around exactly like you would want her to be).