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Looking forward to interviews with two authors

I have two upcoming author interviews that I am really excited about.

One is an in-person interview with Carey Gillam, author of the book Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science. Gillam will be in Atlanta to give a talk about the book at Emory University. In the book, Gillam, a veteran journalist who is a former senior correspondent for Reuters’ international news service, reveals in disturbing detail the 40-year push to prominence of the world’s most popular pesticide: glyphosate, known commonly as Monsanto’s Roundup.

The other, on a much lighter note, is a phone interview with Southern Living magazine Garden Editor Steve Bender. This interview will be about Bender's new book, The Grumpy Gardener: An A to Z guide from the galaxy’s most irritable green thumb. The book, as the title suggests, is a guide to home gardening and is written in the same snarky, sarcastic and humorist style that has endured the longtime and beloved Southern garden writer to his legions of fans for years.

Gillam interview

Gillam’s book is the result of 20 years of meticulous reporting. It eerily brings to mind Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which 55 years ago awakened the world to the dangers of DDT and unchecked pesticide use. It is also a wakeup call that we have failed to heed Carson’s warning and serves as a 21st century reminder that there can be dangerous consequences when corporate profits come before public safety.

In Whitewash, Gillam details how glyphosate, the most widely used agrichemical in history, is a pesticide that is so pervasive it’s in our air, our water, our food, and even our own bodies. The publisher's press release points out that for decades glyphosate has been lauded as the chemical that’s “safe enough to drink.” But a growing body of scientific research ties glyphosate to cancers and a host of other health and environmental threats. Whitewash explores the legal claims of thousands of Americans who believe Roundup caused their cancers, and exposes the powerful influence of a multi-billion-dollar industry that has worked for decades to keep consumers in the dark and regulators in check.

I’m looking forward to asking Gillam what prompted her to write the book and what pushback she got in her research. I want to know how that pushback made her feel as she worked to uncover stories of how agribusiness has taken advantage of “useful” government employees and censored or discredited scientists to bury evidence of harm.

I’m curious if she sees herself more in the light of Carson or Erin Brockovich in her relentless search for truth about the health of our planet and ourselves. I also want to ask her whether, in a time when the Harvey Weinstein revelations have resulted in more and more women speaking out about abuse, if she felt like any of the pushback she must have received was directed toward her because she is a woman. I’m also wondering how optimistic she is about whether the book will result in real change given that the current administration in Washington has set about slashing regulations of pesticides and contributed to heightened concerns of political interference in scientific research.

Gillam notes in the preface that Whitewash is not a feel-good story. Then again, these are not feel-good times. I’m feeling good, though, that this will be a very interesting interview.


Island Press Hardcover

Publication Date: October 10, 2017

272 pages | 6x9 | Price: $30.00 (C) / $29.99 (E) ISBN: 9781610918329 (C) / 9781610918336 (E)

Bender interview

The Grumpy Gardener is a compilation of Bender's

most popular observations, tips and answers to

common gardening questions from his blog,

selected articles from Southern Living and what he promises is a plethora of new material. In the book, the publisher's press release says readers will learn about:

  • The five worst plants to grow.

  • Why you should never carve your Thanksgiving turkey with a chainsaw.

  • The one tree to plant to keep you pure.

  • Three plants you can’t grow if your garden has deer.

  • Why electric bug zappers are more entertaining than useful.

  • The real poop on manure.

  • The only kind of lavender that won’t melt in the South.

  • How to wake up to a garden filled with naked ladies.

That’s all well and good. But in this phone interview I want to get at the back story on Grumpy. What makes Grumpy grumpy, for instance. Beets do. I know , for example, that if I was going to invite Grumpy to dinner, I wouldn't dare serve him beets. I love 'em. But Grumpy's not going to eat them. No way! No how!

But, what else revs Grumpy's irritable engines?

And will he finally reveal why he was, in his words, exiled to Alabama in 1983 from Lutherville, Md. Does he really choose a dinner wine based on how it goes with fried okra? And what wine would that be? And, finally, what are his favorite success stories from his mission to make gardening uplifting, accessible and inspirational to all?

Stay tuned! This should be a fun conversation with this transplanted Southern humorist and garden guru.


Time Inc, Hardcover

Publication date: October 24, 2017; $25.99.

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