Stacy Schiff appeared last Thursday as part of Portland Arts & Lectures. Thursday afternoon before her lecture, she met with a group of local writers, including past finalists and recipients of Oregon Book Awards and Oregon Literary Fellowships, for a Writer’s Forum at the Literary Arts center.

Oregon Book Awards author Pamela Smith Hill had this to say about the meeting: “As nonfiction writers, we discussed the challenges of working from both a very large archive of materials– and a very small one; the joy and frustration of research; the struggle to find our subjects’ essential stories; and the unique issues that surface when publishing nonfiction. More importantly, Stacy Schiff answered our questions about craft, perspective, and theme with candor and insight. What a rare opportunity to exchange ideas with such a gifted writer.”

Oregon Book Awards author Carmen Bernier Grand also said: “Schiff’s process intrigued me because I research at home, write the first draft, and then, with the gaps and questions I have, I go onsite to research further and interview the experts. In contrast, she researches and interviews before she begins to write. I never thought about interviewing the same person more than once. But how right Schiff is! Although most people are willing to be interviewed, they don’t quite trust the biographer.”

Also in attendance was Oregon Book Awards author Kimberly Jensen, who commented afterwards, “For me writing is a combination of work alone in a room, whether researching in an archives or writing in my home office, and collaboration with colleagues and readers. The chance to meet with local colleagues and visiting author Stacy Schiff was an opportunity to build on the collaborative phase and to talk about the research and writing process in just the right size of a group.”