Lisa Taddeo on the Discovery-Making of Immersive Journalism
In Conversation with Roxanne Coady
on the Just the Right Book Podcast
From the episode:
Roxanne Coady: Do you think the three women’s lives were changed by the process of spending time telling their story?
Lisa Taddeo: Yes, I do. Maggie said to me the other day that she feels a sense of closure. She’s worried and nervous, as I think it keeps me up at night that the same sort of people who judged her in the past might do again. But she says she feels closure. Just the idea that her stories are out and someone’s hearing her.
The other two have told me that the process has brought up things and it’s helped them better understand themselves.
Roxanne Coady: And how do you say what you hope to achieve, what you set out to write? How does that jibe with what you ended up with?
Lisa Taddeo: Yeah, it’s a 180, because I didn’t. One of the books that I read that sort of spawned the idea was Gay Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife, and what I loved about it was the immersive quality. But ultimately, I found it to be a very male take on sexuality. So I wanted it to be more nuanced and told from a female perspective, I didn’t know that it was going to be only women. I didn’t know. And I wasn’t looking for anything. The only specific thing I was looking for was compelling stories that were honest. I really was hoping for something immediately unfolding, which is what Lena was. She was literally happening before my eyes. She had no one to talk to and wanted to talk, and I wanted to listen. That was a perfect storm.
Roxanne Coady: Did you ever worry that given that you embedded with them, that you were living in their communities, that you would lose your journalistic independence?
Lisa Taddeo: No. And the reason is because it was always very clear that I was the one asking the questions and they were the ones answering them. There was either a tape recorder or I was taking notes on my phone even when we were out, even when we were getting a drink or working out together. I would ask my question and then their answer, I would record or write down.
Lisa Taddeo has contributed to New York magazine, Esquire, Elle, Glamour, and many other publications. Her nonfiction has been included in the Best American Sports Writing and Best American Political Writing anthologies, and her short stories have won two Pushcart Prizes. She lives with her husband and daughter in New England. Three Women is her first nonfiction book.
Roxanne Coady is owner of R.J. Julia, one of the leading independent booksellers in the United States, which—since 1990—has been a community resource not only for books, but for the exchange of ideas. In 1998, Coady founded Read To Grow, which provides books for newborns and children and encourages parents to read to their children from birth. RTG has distributed over 1.5 million books.