tv Book TV After Words CSPAN December 28, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EST
i was looking through and keeping track and there are chapters about vancouver island named oprah winfrey and there are cranes named tex and george and falcons named scarlett. these are very personal issues to the people involved, aren't they? >> guest: absolutely. and it's interesting because when i began studying the chimpanzees i had no idea that from the point of view of strict science i should have given them names, not names but numbers and while i didn't know that it seems ridiculous to me. so, the chimpanzees had numbers and i described their personalities and minds and feelings and when i got to the cambridge university to get my ph.d. i was told this was wrong but thinking back to my childhood teacher i knew that the scientists were wrong and i
was right because that was my dog, and you can't have some kind of animal share your life and not understand it. of course they have personalities, minds and feelings and of course they deserve names, but even today there are people who feel and probably rightly that if they start talking in these terms about their animal they will be less eligible to get grants from surgeon organizations because it is too fluffy and sentimental. >> host: it's not scientific. ..
>> people stop naming them because they're row introduce to the wild, and they have such a state of loss, they can't cope. >> host: perhaps you can give examples of species you write about in the book. maybe you can just pick one. did you visit all of this places or most of them? where are some of the places you went? >> guest: i couldn't give it all but i certainly visited the whooping cranes, the fig tree in texas, where the first flock spent the summer. i visited the breeding center
near washington, dc, and best of all, i went and visited operation migration, where joe duff is teaching and his helpers are teaching the cranes in the migration, and i got go up in an ultralight. and so it was totally, totally fascinating. >> host: whooping cranes went completely extinct in the wild -- >> guest: no. no. the original flock was down to 27. they were summering in a nature preserve in texas, and then they nested somewhere north in canada, but nobody knew where, and all the time the flock was getting less and less, and then one day a helicopter pilot was looking at things, and he saw this white bird with golden colored young, and that's where they were. they were nesting in a park in
canada. but this little flock was down to 27, and they were making a 2,000-mile migration, and they were getting less and less. so that is why they needed to start the second group, they had to teach them to migrate, and if they learned from their parents. this was a new route -- an ancient one, but nobody knew it so they trained them to follow the ultralight. bo leslie trained egyptian grease. >> host: that's the black-footed ferrets. >> guest: extinct in the wild, the condor extinct in the wild so many of them. >> host: but all of these species do have in common one thing, it seems to me, they all got to the point where we could have written them off.
>> guest: absolutely. >> host: said, let's pull the plug and go away. but it didn't happen, and some of the incredibly inventive thing such as using ultralights to keep migratory routes. >> guest: and my favorite story, george archibald, and i that this one female, and she had genes they really, really wanted for their captive breeding. but she had been hand-raised, so she wouldn't mate with a crane. so george volunteered to do courtship dancing with her once or twice, and she did eventually lay aning and it was artificially ininseminated. so that's one of my favorite pictures in the book. >> host: when you first entered tanzania, what equipment did you
take with you other than a pen and a pad of paper? >> guest: we couldn't afford much. who was going to give money to this young, untrained girl? it was crazy, wasn't it? and we just went down there, and finally a wealthy american businessman said, let's see what happened. the british authorities, this young girl -- they would not take responsibility and that's why i had the companion, and none volunteered, it was amazing. she was there for the first four months. and so fortunately before six months money ran out. i had seen toolmaking and hunting and we needed to get more money to carry on the study. but what did i have? i had a pencil, notebook in my pocket, and not so very good
binoculars because we couldn't afford good ones and that was it. and my clothes. >> host: and now biologist have the benefit for better, and sometimes arguably for worse of incredible technologies. >> guest: they have -- >> host: any devices you can put on a dragonfly, entire forests -- >> guest: trees. >> host: is that -- that seems to be one of the other things that the species in this book have in common they have benefited from the fact that these field biologists, in their mad race to find out more before it's too late, have actually succeeded, and have succeeded with the help of new technology, new tools, and is that a reason for hope? >> guest: that's a reason to hope. but there are stories in the
book dating back to pre that kind of help. so some of the island birds from australia and new zealand, for example, the early biologists didn't have access to that kind of tool. so it was a hit and miss, let's try and hatch the eggs in incubators, and they were trying to increase the number of eggs laid by what's now commonly called double clutching. you put the eggs in an incubator, and make another nest, and take the second eggs and let them hatch, and leave them with their third nest. >> host: the esoteric abilities
that biologyis have, the ability to sit for days on end in the blazing sun and watch a bird in a cave, to count as one early -- i believe one early -- they count the number of lice it picked off its wing in the course of a day. and were there any particular skillsets that you were impressed by in your travels? >> guest: i was absolutely impressed by some of the rock-climbing ability. the stories i love is the rediscovery of the house eye lend stick insect, which is a stick insect that what thought to be extinction for 18 years, and we discovered it was surviving on a pinnacle of rock miles offshore with only one clump of vegetation on it. not very big.
basically one bush. and how could this, you know, leaf eating, huge insect possibly survive there for 18 years? but the team went there, and it wasn't there, and they found they had to climb this sheer rock at night. i mean, i said, you're really making me nervous. just to think of it gives me the wobblies, but they didn't think of it. and the short-tailed albatross going out to that island, extraordinary, so difficult to get to. >> host: i must say, though, that there are -- there dismiss controversy attached to some of the techniques have the have been used to bring some of these species back. some argue that captive breeding programs are extremely
expensive, hit and miss, and that they use up money that could be better spent on habitat or out in the field. well, that's the way the argue. goes. >> guest: not much point in saving the habitat if you have lost the species. so, the stories are balanced between protecting the wild and some captive broad -- breeding, and captive breeding, if they're allowed the opportunity to learn their skills. soft release, which seemed better, just slowly, you can go out and come back, you feed him, he knows things, but the hard release where you just dump these people out in the environment and say, goodbye, and good luck, and those don't work very well. >> host: i have noticed -- i
noticed also while reading the book or thought about the fact that in the time since you began working, and the most recent of these programs have been operating, any of the threats have changed, new threats have arisen, some are his pressing. i wonder if you have been coming up with ideas on the commercialization of hunting. >> guest: climate change and human population growth, three things. it's really difficult because huge amounts of money are
involved. >> guest: it's really understand that the bush hunting is different from the subsistence hunting that has been going on for years, and they're opening up the forest with roads, and opening up forests with roads is something that was damaging anything. opening up any piece of land with roads is deadly for the animals living there. in this case, it enabled hunters to do from the cities, on the logging trail, and shooting anything, antelopes and monkeys and birds and anything that they can homecome, -- smoke, and then the trucks take it into town. and because so much money is being made, politics are involved, it's tough, and the
only way that we are trying to make some headway is working with folks there, and the industry, like the logging companies and miners, to try to offend a way to minimize this and provide other ways of livelihood for the hunters and other sources of protein for the people. >> host: i guess i have a strong theme that came out of the book was the idea that -- well, there's a gentleman, a late gentleman -- he died tragically -- he worked for the organization i work for, the world wildlife fun, and he said the conservation needed to have a human face if it was to work, and you're a big proponent of that. tell me about -- can you talk about an example of how that -- how it's needed. >> guest: exactly how i became
involved. in 1960, you could go around on the shore of the eastern shore of the lake and it was chimpanzee habitate everything. a couple towns, and you could climb up the hills and look away from the lake to the east, chimp habitat, as far as you could see. and then in the early '90s, i knew there was deforest racing going -- deforest racing going on, and there were clearly too maybe people for the land to support. the farmland was overused. the trees were gone. the farms were trying to cultivate ridiculously steep slopes. so the question, how can we even try to save the chimpanzees while people are struggling to survive. so that led to our t.a.c., take care program, can and that
involves now 24 villages. it was start by one project manager, george, who picked an incredible team from tanzania, and they went in and salt down -- sat down and talked about the african way. what can we do to make your lives better? they didn't care about conservation then. they cared about health and education for their kids. so that's where we began. and then gradually talked to them about the kind of things that we hoped that this program could do, better farming, reclaiming overused farmland, works with groups of women to improper their lives through microloans that way would pay back and get a bigger one, education, scholarships for girls. working with women, bus all over the world it's been shown that as women's education increases, family size drops.
and so we provide family planning information, and also hiv aids education, and it took awhile, but trust gained trended towards the family side, and now the last piece in this puzzle is founding up in he high hills really good coffee, and they couldn't get a good price, no proper roads, so some of the big specialty coffee rosters, pickly green mountain coffee rosters, to come in, it's really good, buy some, create a special brand and the farmers make good money, and that was so much good will for our take-care program, but they sat down with our gps specialists, satellite imagery, and they have put the -- the
government requires an amount of land set aside for conservation in such a way that it forms a buffer between the tiny square miles of the national park and will allow the chimps that are trapped in this little oasis of forest to get with other groups. so it's helped the people, it's helped the chimpanzees. >> you actually can put humpy dumpy back together again. >> guest: i just stood there about three months ago. i stood there with our project leader, and looked over the previously bare hills, and the trees are now 20 feet high. so nature was coming back.
so we're trying to replicate this in other wilderness areas, and it can work anywhere, australia, china, india, and hopefully if aid likes it. they sent 71 of their top project managers to see how it's done, and it's one of the examples i use in this book. >> host: i want to talk a little bit more later about the ways in which -- the ways that you might want to -- about how one goes about getting people to invest in this point of view. reading the book would be a start. i want to know why you invested in it? you write about reading tarzan backs, dr. dolittle. i find it hard to think of you as jane, but you're a different
kind of jane. >> guest: i was very jealous of that stupid jane. >> host: how so? >> guest: because i wanted to be with rzan myself. anyway. from the time i was born -- i was interested in animals, animals, animals, animals. i'm going to go to africa and live with animals and write books about them. at a time when girls didn't do those sort of thing. world war ii was raging. we didn't have enough money for a bicycle, let alone a car. that's why i didn't go to university, couldn't afford it. but i had an amazing mother, and she would say if you really want something, you work hard, never give up and find a way. and everybody else was laughing at me. so it was animals, animals, animals. never just chimp -- chimpanzees. that landed in my lap because i
met dr. leakey, and he was trying to throw some light on the behavior of our closest relatives in the world, this would help us guess our early humanness, because that was his interest. so the chimps were, i think, really fortunate thing for me because they're so like us, and so it really helped people to see that there isn't a sharp line dividing us from other animals. >> host: we will come back to talk about this some more. >> after words and several other c-span programs are available for download as pod casts. more with jane goodall and john nielsen in a moment.
>> here is the author of the new book "the venus sixers" who were the venus fixers. >> they were a small unit of the allied military government during world war ii whose joint was to try and prevent damage to monuments, works of arts, from the italian campaign between 1943 and 19 45. they were a small group of men who were architects, art historians, archaeologists,
painter in civilian life and who were in the army and were selected for this particular job. >> i guess they were excited to be given this opportunity? >> yes. >> is it safe to say their lives are still in danger when they rescued these items. can you give me a couple examples? >> yes, a lot of the damaged monuments were laced with mines, and so first aid always meant walking on rubble that had been filled with mines. so that was -- and very often they -- i mean, part of their job was to get to the monuments as fast as possible, which meant in some cases the bombs or the artillery -- the battle was still on. one man rushed to the castle in the countryside where the germans and the allies were still fighting. so it put his life in danger.
>> was it composed of mostly american soldiers, english soldiers? >> every unit was composed in equal parts of british and american. that is one thing. so, yeah, it was american and british. >> as far as the artifact that were saved, can you give us some examples of the better known pieces? >> lots of paintings the nazis had taken from florence, 563 paintings from the galleries, they were taken north and traced back and were taken back to florence before the end of the war. so that was most important accomplishment. >> can you put a percentage on the amount of artifacts that were saved? >> i think most were saved. that's not a very scientific way to put it, but it's
extraordinary how much was saved. or how little damage. if you think the campaign in italy covered the entire territory, lasted 22 months, and went from south to north, and it was a grueling battle all over, so, in the end, there were three major buildings that were completely destroyed. everything else, thanks to their intervention, was restored after the war. >> where were the artifacts held during the war? >> everything that could be moved was taken out of the cities, which were being bombed by air strikes, and taken to villas and castles. this was the beginning of the italian campaign which lasted a very long time. so, it was the thinking at the beginning, but hen -- when the ground war came to italy, everything has been taken to the countryside and happened to be in the middle of the battle in many cases and unguarded. so what had been wise thinking in the beginning was a liability
>> after words with jane goodall and john nielsen continues. >> host: welcome back to after words. we're speaking with jane goodall about her new book, "hoe for -- hope for animals and their world." i would like to talk about children and nature, because in this country there's mounting evidence that kids don't play outside anymore the way they used to. i have three young boys. they play outside a lot. but mostly they play on fields surrounded by parents. they don't crawl around in a stream bed. i don't know of anybody in my neighborhood that has treehouse, and only one of. the likes animals in a significant way. and there is a concern that
academics in this country have that conservationists in this country have, that because that is happening, we will be raising a generation that will be less interested in saving some of these animals you write about in this book. have you heard about this phenomenon? is it -- does it happen outside of the united states? and what do we do about it? >> guest: all across europe, same thing. same thing in the uk. and it goes even deeper than concerns about conservation. it's been shown that young children need nature for healthy psychological development. trees and flowers and things like that are really important. they need -- did a study in chicago, took two areas of high crime. one area they took empty lots and made them green, window boxes and greened it.
the other one they left, and the rate of crime drop significantly in the area where they made green. so, this is why -- people say to me, why have you left the chimp pan seize and working with children? for two reasons. one is i have grandchildren, and they play like children outside, and my son was raised in tanzania, but i see so many of the people i know in the u.s. and europe who are just as you describe, kids do not play out in the wild. >> host: you mentioned this program. tell me more about that. it's a global program designed to, what, get kids to invest in nature? >> guest: it's a bit more than that. it's a symbolic name. if you imagine a small seed, an
acorn, it's going to grow into a big oak tree, and while it starts to grow, there are many tiny roots and it looks so weak and yet the life force in that seed is such that the water, the roots can work through boulders and butch them -- push them aside, and that little shoot will eventually break through and knock it down. we take the boulders in the wall to represent all the ills we have put on the planet environmentally and socially, this is hope that all the young people can break through and make this a better world for living things. so the message each one of us makes a difference every single day. we impact the world around us, and we have a choice, and every group gets the word out there, every group chooses three different kind of projects, one
to help people, one to help animals and one to help the environment. and it's preschool all the way through university, it's getting more and more adult groups, like the staffs of big corporations, senior citizens, and it's in 111 countries in every u.s. state, and it's right across china and growing fast in india and australia, slowly in europe but it is growing. >> host: i'm afraid that didn't -- not just children who don't know what is out there. we live in a world now where wild places are isolated from the places where we all live, most of us. >> guest: except that we're getting deeper and deeper into those last while place, which is a total nightmare. >> host: as a result, it's just
not the same thing when you see it on tv or even in an i-max teeter. if you could take the world that lives in the suburbs to a place where they could have the kind of epiphany that makes someone want to take their mother into the jung toll -- jungle to look at chim pan seize, how do you -- >> guest: i have done it. the thing to start with, it's important they don't go anywhere too exotic, that they go somewhere that is lovely, safe, you know, not too filled with dangers, but where they can hear the birds singing, where the little clear streams, they can see the fish and maybe some frogs, and perhaps some deer
there. that kind of place so they're not going to feel threatened. and even that will threaten some young people. they're afraid of sounds. they're afraid of the ruffles. but we have taken young people into this kind of environment and seen the change. i know many people who take children out into this kind of environment, and it really -- it's really making a change. >> host: it has worked for me to take my children out into stretches of forest, and lay down on our backs and try to hear the wind coming through the tops of the trees. that always -- that's about my favorite sound in the world. >> guest: wonderful. >> host: when i try to think about some of the far more amazing sights that the people in this book have seen, it's almost -- it's a difficult thing to get across to people who have
never been not spent much time in natural place, but that such miracles can even exist, or even to explain the nature of those miracles. i was very lucky once when i was a child, i lived in part of california that was near the california condor sanctuary, and one time i was standing on the edge of a cliff where two prairie falcons chased the condor down, and it flew 15 feet in front of me, with its wings spread, making a roaring sound and that's why i do what i do today. that was it. and i -- i tremble to think what will be lost if we don't -- if
ways aren't found to get across more -- a better definition of what it is that is at stake here, of what john muir used to call the face of god, the sequoias. do you have times when you never forget in maybe the time you saw the chimpanzee pick up a tool at a time when tool was thought to be the province of humans. >> guest: that was pretty exciting. my epiphany which linked know animals happened much earlier. in fact i was only four and a half years old, and we went to stay in the country. we lived in the city. we were an urban family. and so i was given a job to help collect the hens' eggs, and was putting the eggs to the basket -- the hens were free back then. and i could see where they came
from. where was the hole big enough for an egg to come out? so i ended up hiding in the hen house, and i hid there for over four hours, and nobody knew where i was, but i saw an egg laid, and i can never forget that. so i'm always telling young people they say, everything has been seen and discovered. and i say, nothing can take away from you experiencing something for the first time. you have seen it, your patience, your determination, and so because the world is as it is today, i think it's really important that we realize that even something like a domestic chicken can be shown to a child. and you can reach out to more places, and this is why i work
so much of my time now to grow this youth program, because i could kill myself trying to save chimps in forests, and somebody else could kill themselves trying to save condors. but if we're not raising new generations to do a better job caring for them than we have done, our work is useless. >> host: i had one or two moments reading this book when i -- i found myself wondering whether the -- whether this was a set of prescriptions that might not be enough to save some of my most -- some of the most precious species on the planet. in particular the tiger, for instance, which is in a terrible state. and the polar bear. but are there lessons that you
learned in these case studies that you could apply on that scale? the tiger -- there may be as few as 2,000 tigers left in all the wild, in all of its former range now and it's my personal nightmare to have to say to my kids, there used to be these amazing animals that walked around the jungles. >> guest: i think the same question, we will lose them. we can't save them all. we won't save them all. we don't have the political will or might. but to come to your tiger, maybe that's an easier problem than -- i'm not sure. but the only way i see -- and i talk about it when i go to india -- is something like the take care program. because the last tigers are going by people who are desperately poor, and they go in there because they can sell the tiger parts or something like that. and if we can involve them in a
kind of take care program, and give them other wayes of fining their livelihood and bring some -- maybe carbon credits for the deforestation. so you have to realize we have to have the political well willo that. >> host: we haven't addressed climate change. i suppose it's possible to look at climate change as a reason to accelerate in every possible way the study of these species so we can understand how these echo systems function, so we can understand what can survive where a new -- i know there's a huge amount in the last 50 years -- excites me that there's this kind of chart you can draw of the amount we know about a certain species, and the decline of the species, and we want those two lines to cross before
the meet the third line, which is extinction, and -- >> guest: there are other lines intersecting here which is making it very complicated. like what are we going to do about saving the environment? that line is going to cross. and how many more people will get born? that line is going to cross. but i was just in greenland, and i stood with some elders seeing huge slabs of ice crack off and crash down. they never used to see the ice melt, and that was a raging torrent of melted ice. wasn't even a trickle 30 years ago. it was a mountain. this is the big ice and it goes up to the ice cap. and i came away with a sense of, like, this is a wakeup calm we have to do everything we can to slow down climate change. we can't stop it. we can't halt it in its tracks.
we can't suddenly turn it around, any more than a full ship can be turned around quickly. it takes time but we three do everything we can. and one way is saving tropical forests, trapping the carbon there. >> host: you remain optimistic. it's an interesting thing for me to try to figure out what form of optimism this is, whether it's bull-headed opt -- optimism. and i heard one say it was necessary to be optimistic, but i think it's more than that. you really do believe that there is a way to do these things to steal a phrase from our current president, yes, we can, situation. >> guest: well, you know, things like -- may not always have been done in the right way, but a
plateau in china, an area as big as france, and it was the most outsteerly degraded -- utterly degraded area involved. it was completely barren, and this was a big project, the world bank getting together with the chinese government, and all these people were told, you know, you're going plant trees, and a friend of mine who filmed it every year, filmed it now 15 years and has made a film, and he interviewed some of the farmers, and they said, this is ridiculous. they tell to us plant trees. it's stupid. but now the trees have grown, and too much fertilizer and stuff was used, but there were other examples, where it was done in a more gentle way, and they wanted the people to turn this devastated area, which micromining had reduced to black rock, and everything had gone,
and the people were living in horrible situations. and now go down and have a look. it's beautiful. so, we can turn it around, and i think one -- the big underlying problem is the people. that is huge. and we are taking away the wilderness piece by piece by piece because there's so many of us. so that's something we have to address, and you have destruction of the environment through poverty, and massive destruction of the environment through unsustainable lifestyles, so those three things, if we can find ways to address them, and they're very tough but they can be done in pieces. you can't do the whole thing. but we know we can reduce poverty. that can help the environment
and that can bring animal species back. so it is possible. because we try and think so big that it becomes so impossible. but take pieces and have people passionate enough to fight the good fight for their piece. more of those people. more and more and more of those people. that's what that is supposed to -- young biologist, don't give up. do your bit. it's possible. >> host: the phrase, never give up, appears frequently in this book. i understand more about why now. i wanted to ask how the champ -- chimpanzees are doing? >> guest: as a species they're not doing well. probably way over a million when we began, stretched over 25 nations. they're now in 21 nations, and
there's max 300,000. probably less. and they're going fast. many of them -- they're in patches, and many of them -- on the other hand, there are large areas set aside for conservation. the defor restation is something i am passionate about. they're allowing tourism in the right way. you have to find a way to give african governments the incentive because at the moment china can go in with lots of money and take out basically the african children's future. so we have to be able to come up with something that is as attractive, and to pay people not to cut their forest down. the tourism thing, it does work,
but it's not big enough. it's just four months, but over the long term. >> host: i thought 50 years ago it was impossible to imagine this world, you never would have guessed. who would have guessed. so, it may not be fair to ask you to try and predict where we might be 50 years from now if we were to get things right, or whether -- >> guest: hairs too many imponderables. if you take all the people that worked on global warming and the -- it's actually happening faster than they said. and it's very hard -- can't even try to predict the future, but my goal is to get a political mass of young people going out,
taking up responsible positions in the adult world, sharing a philosophy, understanding that although we need some money to make this, shouldn't -- raisings money and getting lots of money, acquiring stuff, we need a different value set, and if we can get a political group of young people thinking that way, then the future is much brighter, and it's oddly enough, downtown in some parts of the world is have aing just that effect. people are thinking about their priorities, and that if you still have enough money in your bank to live a decent life and you weren't spending all your time making more and more time and less time with your family and you lose it, was it worth it? i know this is the way of thinking in parts of china. they're beginning to see this. >> host: is it fair, though, to
say that -- on the basis of this book it seemed to me that the positive future -- it's not -- there are a lot of possibilities, there's a lot of directions we could go. >> guest: there may be some -- i mean, heaven forbid but there could be a plague. we could lose hundreds of thousands of people. it's been predicted. with the superbugs, because we misuse antibiotics because we keep animals in unlawful -- awful conditions, and we have to feed them antibiotics all the team, and people have already died from a scratch because there wasn't a strong much antibiotic. so we don't know what's going to happen. so we have to be prepared for it to turn around in favor of the environment in the future for our children.
>> host: i want to go back to a more respectful form of the gene question we talked about. and that is related though fact -- related to the fact that you're one of the first women in your field, and now it's a field that in which women are much more involved, and much more accomplished, and it appears to be wide open in that respect. how do you feel about that? you're a hero to many field biology gists who happen to be female that i know. >> guest: well, it's exciting because i have worked with young women who go to places like china and india, where almost certainly they don't deal with this kind of thing, and they got ahold of my book, usually in the shadow of man, and they said, i
suddenly realized, if you can do it, i can do it, too. and it's a very good feeling, and i know from a number of young women that said, you really helped me to stand firm and go in the direction i wanted to go, because after i wrote "shadow of man." >> host: would you like to give children advice on what they ought to do to do their part to make some of these dreams come true? theser unfinished stories for each of the species that are identified. i want to know if there's a message you would like to send for the next generation? >> guest: absolutely. i get this message all the time. and it's basically that, you know, every one of us, not just the young people but all of us
have to remember that each day we actually do make a difference. it's very hard to realize, we're so small and insignificant, and the choices you make, how can they make any difference, but in fact when enough people make small choices, like what you buy or what you eat, what you wear, where did it come from, did it involve animal suffering or child slave labor, did it involve use of pesticides, did it destroy land to create it, how far has isit come in the air miles, if people start thinking about the consequences of their choices, they do start making changes, and kids are really good at this. they become very passionate and drive their parents nuts because they want to know where the food came from. why did you buy this one? they make it locally. and my sister's grandson when he was five would go all around
though store and say, don't buy this because it has pesticide in it, or this is poisonous, very loudly. don't buy it. >> host: that's a perfect note to end on. i want to thank you for joining us, and you're one of my heroes as well. i know that that's not a completely neutral statement from someone here interviewing a book author. but i am -- on behalf of everyone, i'm grateful to you for what you have done. thank you. >> guest: just as i'm grateful to all those who share this passion and love with me. >> well, every once in a while we get the chance to talk to a children's author on book tv, and judy bloom is one of the
more famous children's authors, and she is joining us now while we're doing our show at the national book festival. judy bloom, why did you start writing? >> guest: i started writing because i just had so much creative energy locked up inside me, and it was making me sick. i didn't know it at the time but i was sick throughout my 20s, and once i started to write, all my illnesses magically vanished. it was -- i do think that the creative child has -- i had a lot of outlets when i was in school, and suddenly i didn't have those of creative outlets or didn't know i did. i didn't know what to do. and once i started to write -- and i always had the stories inside my head, and i let -- i let it out. and it was cathartic, and to
this day it continues to change my life. >> host: did you write when you are in school? >> guest: never. i can't say never. but creative writing when i was in school in the 50s wasn't stressed. it wasn't something that we did every day. i always liked to write. when we were assigned reports, other kids wouldgrown, groan, ad i would think, oh, good. and i worked on the high school newspaper. but it never occurred to me a person could grow up to be a writer. people who wrote books i thought were dead. i don't know what i thought. but it was just something so far away that i never dreamed of it. and i never knew anybody who wrote. i never knew anybody who had written. and never knew anybody in publishing. so, i did this in my own little isolated world. and again, never dreamed what could happen.
>> host: who was the first person that encouraged you to start writing again? >> guest: i can't say that anyone encouraged me to write. it came from deep inside. and what kept me going after my first manuscripts were rejected was that determination. i would good in the closet and cry when i got a rejection, yeah, once or twice. and after that it would be, yeah, that book, but wait until they see what i'm going too do next. and i do believe that they that kind of determination -- that that kind of determination is what makes one succeed. you can be talented and be afraid to do it, and while i was a very fearful child, i have always been fearless in my writing, and i can't explain that. i can't explain that. >> host: you mentioned you're ferless in your writing. some of your writing has been controversial.
>> guest: i never dreams about that when i was writing. never occurred to me. i tell people it's dangerous to think ahead when you're writing. you don't think about who is going read your book, you don't think about a censor on your shoulder or a critic on your other shoulder. it comes from someplace else and it's so amazing when it actually works, when you sit in that room for a few hours and you look at the time, and you know, it's the end of the day and you think, well -- and you look back and say, how do you know that? you're not aware. it's just -- it isn'tmake but -- isn't magic bus-but it is. >> host: is writing isolating? >> guest: well, it's lonely. writing can be really lonely, and there was a time in my life when i thought i didn't want to do that anymore. i wanted to be out in the world.
i wanted to be an editor. i wanted to work with people. and i never stopped, though. i never stopped. and then i began to be very grateful that i could do this, and there have been other times when i have said, this is it, i'm never doing this again. it's too hard, too painful. i can't go through this again. because it is torture for me. as pleasurable it is when it's working, it's torture, especially a first draft. so i thought i was quitting after my adult novel and took me three years and 20 something drafts, and i said i'm never doing this again. and i waited a few years, and i couldn't wait to get back into that little room alone with my characters. >> host: 20 drafts. self-edited or did you have an editor you were working with? >> guest: you know, some books are more difficult than others.
that was a particularly difficult book and it went through many, many, many drafts before i ever showed it to an editor, and thanks to that editor, she encouraged me to get it right, and by talking with her about it, i knew suddenly what i had to do, and once i got there, you know, i couldn't stop writing. mean, it was over say. i -- over a summer. i was in my little cabin and i never wanted to come out. it was workings, working, and it grew and it came together. >> host: you use a computer? >> guest: well, you know, i started long before there were computers so i have been through manual type writer, electric type writers, selectricss, but i use a computer, and i print out
a lot which isn't green, but i try reuse the paper, and the reason i print out so much is i have to have a pencil in my hand, and on those printouts, with a pencil, come all of my best ideas, edits, revisions, and i write up and down and over and around and behind and sometimes i can't figure out what i meant, but that's where it's really working. it's that -- whatever it is that happens between the brain and the pencil in your hand that's really important to my process. you know, kids ask me, how do you do this? i don't know how the creative process works, but i have come to trust it. i have come to trust that it will happen. >> host: is your computer czeched -- connected to the internet? are you