Virginia Holman is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Roslynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, and a North Carolina Arts Council grant. Rescuing Patty Hearst won the 2003 Outstanding Literature Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, where she is at work on a novel.
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An Interview with Virginia Holman
A piece of Rescuing Patty Hearst was originally published in
DoubleTake and won a Pushcart Prize. Can you describe how you came to expand the
essay into a full-length work?
I had probably been working on telling this story in everything I had written since I began writing. I was engaged off and on for a number of years writing a novel based on these experiencesbut this story refused to work as fiction for me, despite the fact that many first novels are near pure autobiography. I am cursed with a perhaps unfortunate amount of earnestness. When I first spoke with the woman who would later become my agent she asked if I had ever considered writing this material as nonfiction and I said "Absolutely not! I couldnt do that. Especially to my family." I felt it would be some sort of betrayal to tell some of our secrets. But soon after that conversation I began writing short essays about my experiences andwith great fearshowing them to my family.
I suppose deep down I thought that I'd be cast out, but instead they were immensely kind and supportive of the endeavor. And that's why the book exists. I could never have published this booktheres ...
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