A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed
Brandy Schillace

A Conversation with Brandy Schillace, Author of Newly Released Book “Mr. Humble & Dr. Butcher”

April 4, 2021

I had the opportunity to interview Brandy Schillace, the author of Mr. Humble & Dr. Butcher. Here are some highlights.

Mr. Humble & Dr. Butcher by Brandy Schillace

Do you write for others or for yourself only?

Writing and reading is a conversation. When I write, I am always aware that I’m speaking to someone, and that they will bring their own experience and understanding to the work. I like that about my job; it’s always a two-way street.

Are you affected by other people’s appraisal of your work? Have you ever been hurt by them?
None of us are immune to either praise or censure. But I find that, if I am pleased with a work and feel it represents my best at that moment, then I am not moved by criticism (nor embarrassed by praise). I’m not even bothered by those who suggest I might have done better, or done otherwise; sometimes they are right, and I try to learn from that. The only time I get nervous about reception of a work is when I, myself, am uncertain of it. And that is usually a sign that I have more work to do.

Do you feel that you and the characters in your book have been well understood by your readers?
Mine is a biography, so I certainly hope so! He is a very complex figure, Dr. Robert White, and the goal was to show him in all his diversity.

What books are currently on your book stand?
I have a lot of book stands. Within grasping distance of where I am typing this, I have Adam Rutherford’s A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived, Carl Zimmer’s Life’s Edge, Robert MacFarlane’s Underland, as well as Gina Kolata’s Clone. There is also A Treatise on PoisonMoby Dick, and a mystery novel by Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace.

What do you plan to read next?
Mukherjee’s The Gene: An intimate History

What is next for you?
In addition to writing books, I edit a Medical Humanities Journal for BMJ, which takes up quite a lot of time. We focus on issues of social justice and accessibility. I also have three forthcoming articles, and a new book project in the works. I suppose I don’t know how to stop writing. But then again, it brings me great joy to put words in the world.

Author Brandy Schillace

About The Author

Brandy Schillace is a historian of medicine and the critically acclaimed author of Death’s Summer Coat: What Death and Dying Teach Us About Life and Living and Clockwork Futures: The Science of Steampunk. The editor-in-chief of the journal Medical Humanities, she previously worked as a professor of literature and in research and public engagement at the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum.

Simon & Schuster

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