Mary Ladd and Don Asmussen

in conversation with Michael Krasny

Recorded Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

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Mary Ladd and Don Asmussen in conversation with Michael Krasny

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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Mary Ladd‘s The Wig Diaries is an irreverent cancer book, delivered with bold gallows humor to intimately address the gravity of cancer. Illustrated by San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Don Asmussen, this uniquely fresh modern and black comedy covers and pokes fun at everything from diagnosis to treatment to medical bills.

Mary‘s writing has appeared in PlayboyTime MagazineHealth, the San Francisco Chronicle, and in five anthologies, including Lit Starts: Writing Humor from Abrams and the best-selling 642 Things series. You may have seen her onstage at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Breast Cancer Action, Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS) and Litquake. She is a Writers Grotto member who collaborated with Anthony Bourdain on his Bay Area episodes of No Reservations.

Don is the creator of Bad Reporter, a twice-weekly political comic strip in the San Francisco Chronicle that is syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate and the author of Dog vs. Cat: A Nation Divided and The San Francisco Comic Strip Book of Big-Ass Mocha.

Michael Krasny is the host of the award winning KQED FORUM, a program discussing news and public affairs, current events, culture, health, business and technology.

“I love this book.”

-Mary Roach, author of the books Grunt, Stiff, Spook, and Bonk.

Get ready to join Mary and Don in conversation, Wednesday, September 9th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

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  • 4

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    What role does humor have in grief? How do you incorporate humor into your grief in a healthy way?

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    What is the last thing you read or saw that moved you?

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    What is the relationship like between a writer and illustrator? What is the creative process like between you two?

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    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

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    Would Don consider resurrecting the “Super Average Joe” character to battle cancer? Hello Mary and Don from the Original Super Average Joe!

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    What inspired you to write this book?

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    What was the hardest part about creating “the wig diaries” ?

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    I’m interested in the mechanics. Does the writing always come first to the illustration? How much back and forth is there? Do you both edit separately or together?

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    What are you both working on now?

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    Can Mary please tell me how to find Marijane Bloch’s book?

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    To the writers– please read this when you have time. A young resident told me that I had a better chance of dying from a heart attack or getting hit by a car than dying from this cancer. I stared at the young resident and asked, “That’s suppose to make me feel better?” When I left that visit, I was terrified to cross the street! That’s when I started laughing. Humor has gotten me through tough situations and got me through the shock of diagnosis, the discovery of a genetic mutation, 6 ectomies, radiation, and a tough estrogen blocker. Since my cancer was in my left breast I had to learn something called inspiration breath drop my heart and lung out of the line of the beam. It put me in mind of pitching in baseball, my coach– the radiation oncologist, the machine the umpire that called ball and shut me down if I wasn’t in the right zone. Halloween rolled around about a month into my radiation. With a friend’s help (he made a monitor that I clipped to the visor of my ball cap), my baseball glove (used to play 2nd base), and I sign that had ‘pitching tips’ for inspiration breath hold (IPB), I dressed forHalloween and my treatment. I hesitated at the door, not wanting anyone to think I was making light of their experience, and realized that I needed to do this for me. I took a deep breath (fitting with IBH) and went in, scanned my card and set down with my head down. The room was silent and then a low laugh and another until the room burst into glorious laughter. Truly the best Halloween of my life. I look forward to reading your books. We ARE unique, creative individuals who happen to have a disease called cancer. Opening to laughter helped me open to loss, grief, and fear and helped me grab on to life with both hands.

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    I’m curious to know if Don had any previous ideas about breast cancer survivorship and if working with Mary was an eye-opener? Not everyone, even those with humor, ‘get’ the dark humor many some find in the Land of Cancer. . . 😉

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