Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Interview with non-fiction writer Kat Duff

Today's guest is Kat Duff, sharing a little bit about her newest book, The Secret Life of Sleep (from Beyond Words). We all need sleep, so I hope you find the interview interesting.

The book excerpt is quite extensive and available through the Scribd link in the middle of the interview. I hope you'll take a peek!

Kat Duff is the award-winning author of The Alchemy of Illness (Pantheon, 1993). She received her BA from Hampshire College where she pursued a multi-disciplinary concentration in literature, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and neuroscience. Duff’s life-long love of sleep and her friendship with two chronic insomniacs led her to investigate the subject of sleep with her signature multi-disciplinary approach. The Secret Life of Sleep is her newest release.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Duff now makes her home in northern New Mexico.

Please tell us about your current release.
To the best of our knowledge, all creatures display some form of sleep behavior, a regular time of quiet when they settle into familiar postures, lose awareness of the outside world, and rest. Yet for many of us, rejuvenating sleep is as elusive as clean water and dark nights. More than 60% of Americans experience a sleep problem at least twice a week, and 40% get less than the recommended amount of sleep. In response to this emerging endangered resource, award-winning author Kat Duff blends myth, history, science, culture, and story with a contagious curiosity to unveil the hidden and invaluable healing benefits of sleep.

Drawing on the latest scientific research, literature, personal experience, as well as cultural and spiritual traditions from around the globe, The Secret Life of Sleep will help us better understand what we’re losing before it’s too late.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I returned to writing several years ago, I decided to investigate something I loved to counterbalance the suffering I encounter in my work as a counselor. Sleep was the first thing that came to mind! I like to explore common, intimate experiences that are often dismissed and ignored, so it made sense. I had come to realize in my work that sleep is vitally important to our physical, emotional and cognitive health, but I never expected that it would also offer an antidote to suffering itself.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have a few fantasies at this point, but nothing that I have landed on.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I remember wanting to be a writer (or an anthropologist) as a child, but never actually imagined I could become one. The options for women seemed to be: nurse, teacher, secretary or hairdresser. When I finished college, I joined a women’s press collective, the Mother Jones Press in Northampton, MA and became a printer. But it did not provide a living, so I became an astrological counselor. Ten years later, I started a monthly astrological newsletter as a writing practice. I suppose that’s when I realized I was a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full time, and don’t think I would want to, as my work improves when I leave it regularly to do other things, and then return to it. I work as a counselor to support myself, and write around the edges of that. I started writing The Secret Life of Sleep on a pinkie promise with a dear friend that I would write a total of 6 hours per week and report to her every Sunday. That worked very well for me, as I could easily give it 2 hours on a week night and 4 on the weekend. My dream is to be able to write alone half-time, and work with people the other half. They balance each other well.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I bring my writing problems to bed with me and let my sleep work on them.

Thanks for stopping by today, Kat!

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