Today I have Woody Weingarten as Wednesday’s Guest. He is sharing a bit about his book, Rollercoaster, as well as answering a few other questions. For refreshments today we have, Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi, which is something Woody says he particularly enjoys. If you’re not a soda drinker, like me, we’ll wait for you to get a cup of coffee or tea.
Don’t forget to recycle the can when you finish!
Hi, Woody here. I’m thrilled to be interviewed/interrogated by Maryann, but I must admit I’m a little nervous. Although I’m a chronological geezer, I’m actually a virgin — at appearing on someone else’s blog, that is.
LOL, Woody, that’s the best introduction I’ve had from one of my Wednesday’s Guests. And now that you are no longer a virgin at this, I do hope you will find other blogs on which to do a guest post.
Q. Please tell our readers how you came to write your latest book.
I wrote “Rollercoaster” because I believed my experiences, research and expertise could help those going through a life-threatening disease or its aftermath. I think male caregivers, often the forgotten part of the breast cancer equation, are particularly in need of help. But women also can learn what their partners may be feeling. According to The New York Times, there currently are 35 million caregivers in the United States. If most of them bought “Rollercoaster,” I’d be able to stop worrying about getting out my message that there can be light and life at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Q. You have been through the ordeal of having a spouse with breast cancer twice. Did the fact that your first wife had it, make it harder when Nancy was diagnosed?
In a word, yes. It was incredibly sad, and frightening, when the mother of my children ultimately died from the disease. But the fear has faded over time, and Nancy, I’m happy to report, is alive and thriving 20 years later.
Q. There was a lot in the book about chemo-brain, and I know from my sister’s experience that the memory loss is a problem. Did Nancy find that her memory improved after being past chemo for some time?
Nancy’s memory did get better, but there still are blanks and blotches that apparently will never improve. And of course I’m convinced that, like many otherwise loving wives, she’ll never completely forget anything I ever did wrong. (Don’t take that sentence seriously. Now and then she even lets go of my sins.)
Q. What is the hardest thing about writing?
Writing. That’s meant to be a half-joke, and it’s mostly untrue. The hardest part is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting to “get it right.”
Amen to that!!
Q. What is the most unusual or interesting research you have done for your books?
The most interesting by far was discovering that almost any medical findings, no matter how definitive a report seemed, are likely to be contradicted by other research in the following weeks, months or years. The pendulum keeps swinging back and forth, confusing practitioners, patients and caregivers.
That was equally interesting to me as a reader, too, Woody, as was the chapter on medications.
Q. Have you always wanted to be a writer, or have you come to writing after another career? What was that career?
Although I apparently always wanted to be a writer (my first published piece was a poem written in high school), I got sidetracked — for about half a century — by being a daily and weekly newspaper editor holding down stressful jobs that left minimal time to write. It was only after I allegedly retired that I started doing regular columns and theatrical reviews and working on books. I’ve been a lifelong voracious reader (my wife insists that I’ll read anything, even cereal boxes) and have honed my skills by being inspired by scribes who write better.
Q. What is your fondest childhood memory?
Believe it or not, it’s a cumulative memory consisting of a series of accidents. I was hit by a moving car while playing ball in the street. I fell off a school wall into a tree limb that pierced my chest. I cut my knee when I recklessly stepped through the windshield of a tractor-trailer that was sitting, shattered, on the ground. The reason it’s my “fondest” memory is simple — I survived.
And we are so glad you did, Woody.
Q. What did it say about you in your high school yearbook?
“He conquers all with wit and gaiety.” Whoever chose that phrase obviously recognized my lighter side but ignored the ultra-sensitive me I prefer to flaunt.
Q. What do you do for fun?
Nancy and I have been trading “mystery dates” for more than two decades. One of us will set it up, without the other knowing where he or she is going. It can be limited to just the two of us or can include friends. It can be simple, such as a meal somewhere, or more complicated, like a multi-event theme date. My wife and I are working on a book about it: “Surprise!” is its working title, with the tentative subhead being “How a couple can keep the sizzle in their relationship through ‘mystery dates.”
Great concept for a book, Woody, but I do hope you shorten the subhead. Do you know how hard it is to get such long titles on one line when doing a review? I thought WordPress was going to wrap the full Rollercoaster title when I reviewed it last Sunday. (smile) How about Surprise: Sizzle and Mystery Dates. That will all fit nicely on one line, and I won’t even charge you for the title. (smile)
Q. If you could go through a wormhole, would you go into the future, the past, or stay right here? Why?
I’d stay right here. I’m mature enough to have learned more than a thing or two about “giving back” and enjoying life without being too old to make those things happen.
Great thought with which to end the interview, Woody. As you say in your book, looking mortality in the face does give you a new perspective on life. Thanks so much for being my guest today.