How do authors write about emotionally sensitive stories that belong to other people? There are many difficult lines to navigate, and authors need to be asking the right questions as they identify the purpose and intentions of their nonfiction book. Sam Staley (SR Staley), award-winning author, film critic, and educator, shares his experience writing about sexual assault on college campuses. He believes his book Unsafe on Any Campus is the most important work he has done at this point. When he was volunteering at self-defense classes, he discovered the stories of women who weren’t safe on college campuses. Through a series of heartbreaking and powerful encounters with these women, he decided that this was a book that desperately needed to be written. His biggest challenge, though, was finding his voice in the conversation. In the clip below, Staley discusses how he determined his audience, how he identified his role in the conversation, and how he chose the goals and purpose of the book. He also discusses his experience as he continually encounters the deeply personal stories of others, and gives advice for authors who are having conversations about sensitive stories or topics. Listen to Staley to better understand the best ways to report on experiences that aren’t your own.
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