Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett has written about hundreds of people who might otherwise never have landed in the PD's pages. People like 44-year-old Jo Anne Hollis, a special education teacher who was dying of cancer when Brett interviewed her in 1997. A day after that interview, the paper ran a column Brett considered her worst ever, a rant against disgusting Easter candy. But she later learned the piece had given Hollis her last laugh before dying. "She taught me that even your worst work can transform a life," Brett says. That lesson is just one found in Brett's new book Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible (Grand Central Publishing, $22.99). We talked with Brett about her journey to this latest book.
Q: How do you describe the difference between the book and your first, God Never Blinks?
A: Be the Miracle is more about the lives of others. The first had more of me in it. We're always busy growing our lives with more branches. But to me, this book is about growing the roots: How do you deepen your life?
Q: Why was this the next book you wanted to write?
A: I had a book on cancer done (Brett is a breast cancer survivor), and I got a call from my agent. She said, "There are so many books out there about cancer. ... I'm not sure you will touch people in the way you did with [God Never Blinks]." I said, You know, she's right. I need to stick with books that are not just my experience but a lot of different people's experiences. I think that's why people can relate.
Q: Is that blend of your experiences and others' what we can expect in your future books?
A: For me, that's the perfect mix: the personal story I have and the personal stories others have. ... If I had a brand, it would be to bring people hope no matter where they are in life.
Q: What's next for you?
A: I have three books I want to write. I want to write the cancer journey through different eyes. There are similarities [to that experience], but there are so many differences. I also want to write something about how to find your mission in life, your passion, and how to get to the essence of why you're here.