Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Jeffrey Masson book in the Making

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: A Gathering of Savvy People
Where: El Cerrito, Calif.
When: Thursday, March 17, 2011
Why: To brainstorm author Jeffrey Masson's future book project

The Scoop: If this Press Pass blog has an ideal entry, it would be to boldly go where few vegans have gone before, then take you inside. "Out & about with the VegNews editors," with a twist of exclusivity. Last Thursday, a dozen invited movers and shakers, including a neuroscientist, a lawyer, an award-winning writer, and a non-profit exec, gathered in author and eco-feminist Marti Kheel's living room, overlooking the stunning hills of El Cerrito, Calif. The purpose? To hash out ideas and direction for prolific author Jeffrey Masson's 27th book, to be published by Bloomsbury Press (same as the Harry Potter series) in February 2012.

For two hours Masson and his 12 apostles sat in a circle, sharing delectable raw finger foods provided by our host and Café Gratitude, while debating the direction of what Masson—who turns 70 next week—says might be his last book.

Skip dinner and go for the desserts. All raw, so they don't count, right?

"Be brutal. Tell me all kinds of things," the author instructed as we discussed such varied topics as intra-species murder among non-human predators (rare, with no known example of an orca ever killing a member of his own species); the psychology of empathy in animals and apathy in humans (the direction I'd like to see the book take); and why Michael Pollan and Alice Waters dislike vegetarians (I would tell you but I don't want VegNews to get sued, though you can read about it here).

The discussion ping-ponged around the room in a cordial yet spirited manner, with many opinions offered and seemingly no conclusions drawn. But have no worries, as Masson has a proven knack for solidifying disparate concepts into reader-friendly, often best-selling prose, and the feeling in the room as the night drew to a close was one of hope and excitement for the man of the hour's next best-seller. The best title suggestion? "Are You My Other?"

For those who can't wait to read a bit of Jeff, Masson currently has two other books in the pipeline. The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving debuted last October and will soon be out in paperback, while Dogs Make Us Human, a photography books of canines from around the world, will be published this coming October.

I'd participated in one previous discussion for what became Masson's The Face on Your Plate, his 2009 book about veganism. Being invited to work with an author in the early stages of a project is a unique experience, one that any writer would cherish. Thanks go out to Marti Kheel, author of the excellent Nature Ethics, for hosting these events.

Jeffrey Masson, Marti Kheel, and Joseph Connelly

No comments: