Interview with non-fiction writer Kat Duff

Today’s guest is Kat Duff, sharing a little bit about her newest book, The Secret Life of Sleep (from Beyond Words). We all need sleep, so I hope you find the interview interesting.

The book excerpt is quite extensive and available through the Scribd link in the middle of the interview. I hope you’ll take a peek!
Kat Duff is the award-winning author of The
Alchemy of Illness
1993). She received her BA from Hampshire College where she pursued a
multi-disciplinary concentration in literature, psychology, sociology,
anthropology, and neuroscience. Duff’s life-long love of sleep and her friendship
with two chronic insomniacs led her to investigate the subject of sleep with
her signature multi-disciplinary approach. The
Secret Life of Sleep
is her newest release.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Duff now makes her
home in northern New Mexico.
Please tell us about your current
To the best of our knowledge, all creatures display some form of sleep
behavior, a regular time of quiet when they settle into familiar postures, lose
awareness of the outside world, and rest. Yet for many of us, rejuvenating
sleep is as elusive as clean water and dark nights. More than 60% of Americans
experience a sleep problem at least twice a week, and 40% get less than the
recommended amount of sleep. In response to this emerging endangered resource,
award-winning author Kat Duff blends myth, history, science, culture, and story
with a contagious curiosity to unveil the hidden and invaluable healing
benefits of sleep.

Drawing on the latest scientific research,
literature, personal experience, as well as cultural and spiritual traditions
from around the globe, The
Secret Life of Sleep
 will help
us better understand what we’re losing before it’s too late.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I
returned to writing several years ago, I decided to investigate something I
loved to counterbalance the suffering I encounter in my work as a counselor.
Sleep was the first thing that came to mind! I like to explore common, intimate
experiences that are often dismissed and ignored, so it made sense. I had come
to realize in my work that sleep is vitally important to our physical,
emotional and cognitive health, but I never expected that it would also offer
an antidote to suffering itself.
What exciting story are you working on
I have a
few fantasies at this point, but nothing that I have landed on.
When did you first consider yourself a
I remember
wanting to be a writer (or an anthropologist) as a child, but never actually
imagined I could become one. The options for women seemed to be: nurse,
teacher, secretary or hairdresser. When I finished college, I joined a women’s
press collective, the Mother Jones Press in Northampton, MA and became a
printer. But it did not provide a living, so I became an astrological
counselor. Ten years later, I started a monthly astrological newsletter as a
writing practice. I suppose that’s when I realized I was a writer.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I don’t
write full time, and don’t think I would want to, as my work improves when I
leave it regularly to do other things, and then return to it. I work as a
counselor to support myself, and write around the edges of that. I started
writing The Secret Life of Sleep on a
pinkie promise with a dear friend that I would write a total of 6 hours per
week and report to her every Sunday. That worked very well for me, as I could
easily give it 2 hours on a week night and 4 on the weekend. My dream is to be
able to write alone half-time, and work with people the other half. They
balance each other well.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I bring my
writing problems to bed with me and let my sleep work on them.
Thanks for stopping by today, Kat!

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