Acclaimed authors arrive at Davis High

PHOTO: New York Times journalist Conor Daugherty and science-fiction author Mary Roach discussed their books “Golden Gates” (left) and “Stiff” (right) with Davis High’s Multimedia Journalism 2 class. (Courtesy: Jen Siska).

By Jihan Moon, Staff–

Acclaimed authors Mary Roach and Conor Doughtery gave a Q&A-styled talk to Kelly Wilkerson’s Multimedia Journalism 2 class last Wednesday and Friday respectively.

Wilkerson sorted her class into four book groups, including a group that read Roach’s “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” and one that read Doughtery’s “Golden Gates: The Housing Crisis and a Reckoning for the American Dream.” Those groups were tasked with reaching out to the authors via email or social media and to invite them to their class.

“Stiff” details the use of cadavers, its history, and its ethical and moral issues. “Golden Gates,” on the other hand, chronicles San Francisco’s housing crisis by focusing on a collection of people who are fighting for a fix to the crisis.

When Roach visited the class, her advice on contacting and working with sources stood out to senior Caroline Chilcott.

“What [Roach] said about always having to advocate for herself and trying to answer all the questions that she had and not be afraid to ask again [were] really great skills that I think will take into [my] writing in the future,” Chilcott said.

Senior Sarah Kim appreciated how Roach’s talk gave her insight into how and why “Stiff” is written in an informal, conversational tone. “I found it interesting how [Roach] mentioned that she likes to tell the story as if she’s telling a twelve year old [which] allows a lot of students from a wider age range to understand this topic,” Kim said.

Roach stated that she asks all of her interviewees to explain concepts to her “as if she was twelve years old.”

Two days later, Doughtery spoke about how he spent his summers as a child in Davis and engaged in a conversation with Wilkerson about housing issues specific to Davis.

“It was interesting to hear [Doughtery] and Mrs. Wilkerson talk about how Davis is a slow-growth town. […] I didn’t realize that anti-growth sentiments are shared among a lot of Davis residents,” junior Grace Kishiyama said.

Senior Lauren Lee pointed out that each author was distinct and brought something different to the table. Roach has been writing books for over a decade and has shifted away from writing articles. However, Dougherty published his first book, “Golden Gates,” just over a year ago and is still writing for The New York Times.

“Our class got something valuable from each person,” Lee said. “For me, I was more interested in [Roach’s] pathway into journalism and then writing books. Whereas for Dougherty, I was more interested in the actual contents of the book because I read [“Golden Gates”].”

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