Janine Latus is a freelance writer, radio commentator, and regular speaker on
domestic abuse issues. She has busked on the streets of Chicago to write about
what its like to sing for your supper. She has galloped the beaches of the
Dominican Republic, eaten her way through Kansas City and danced herself into a
frenzy, all to gather the kind of you-are-there details that make a story sing.
She has coaxed women to tell her how much they weigh and why, and couples to
admit how much they earn, how they spend their money and what theyd like to do
differently. She has cried along with women as they described surviving
mastectomies, and wept with their family members when they did not.
Her work has appeared in O magazine, More, Womans Day, Family Circle, Parents, All You, American Baby and the in-flight magazines for US Air, American Airlines, Continental and TWA. She has written for WomensWallStreet.com and MSN Money. Her commentaries have aired on Public Radio Internationals Marketplace, and she routinely speaks at conferences, workshops and press events on things as far apart as domestic violence and the joy of selecting the perfect verb. She has taught at the Missouri School of Journalism and at East Carolina University, and at writing workshops in Missouri, University of North Carolina and Wisconsin. She is on the board of directors of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and lives in Virginia. If I Am Missing or Dead is her first book.
Janine Latus's website
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Janine Latus discusses If I Am Missing or Dead.
In the book, Amy's story is interwoven with your own. Why did you choose to
structure the book this way?
I thought of it as a double helix, our lives winding around each other's, connecting at family gatherings and shared crises and through the tiny threads of phone calls, letters, and cards. Our lives were so different, yet we each sought men who would give us that fiction, that shudder of excitement. By telling both of our stories I wanted to convey the spectrum of emotional and physical abuse. It's always emotional, understand. The physical is a form of control through fear, and fear is an emotion. As I point out in the book, physical abuse is not necessarily worse that emotional abuse. It's just a different shape.
Toward the end of the book, someone asks you if Amy's death has made you reconsider your divorce. You respond that it has made you "even more sure. Life's too short to be afraid." How has Amy's death changed your understanding of your own experiences?
I don't understand this question well enough to give you a good answer. If you mean has Amy's death made me even more determined to speak out for abused women, yes. ...
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