Listen to the audio version of this interview ...
BARBARA: Welcome to Writers in the Sky podcast. I’m your host, Barbara Milbourn, and guess who I’ll be interviewing today!—Yvonne Perry, the founder of this podcast dedicated to the craft and business of writing.
Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer, author, speaker, and owner of Write On! Creative Writing Services, a team of full-time freelance ghostwriters and editors in Nashville, Tennessee. She writes about educational topics that uplift the spirit and inspire excellence. Her writing style is lovingly controversial and absolutely eye opening.
In her latest work, RIGHT TO RECOVER Winning the Political and Religious Wars over Stem Cell Research in America, Yvonne Perry delivers to our doorstep a well-rounded, well-researched book on what we need to know about stem cell research. It challenges political and religious opinions about research using in-vitro stem cells and provides a look at current stem cell research therapies around the globe.
Welcome to Writers in the Sky, Yvonne.
YVONNE: Thank you, Barbara. You did that introduction very well. You are a natural at podcasting. Perhaps I should have you do this more often!
BARBARA: I’ve learned SO MUCH from reading your book and I’m excited to share it with our listeners. Let’s begin at the beginning. In the Introduction, you talk about meeting two men who inspired you Dan Bloodworth and Michael Davis). Most people get inspired about losing weight or making money. Talk to us about being inspired to write a book on such a complex and controversial subject.
YVONNE: Honestly, my inspiration for writing this book is from my inner guidance. After meeting Dan and working with Michael, I knew that I was supposed to challenge the right-wing mindset regarding blastocystic stem cell research. Part of my reason for being on the planet is to help others understand greater spiritual truth and stop living a life of fear based upon fabricated ideologies. Writing this book fit perfectly into my life’s mission.
BARBARA: We were talking about the matter of stem cell research being controversial. Your writing style has also been called controversial--“lovingly” controversial. In this book, you express facts and opinions that some readers will find highly controversial. I found you courageous. Tell us about courage and taking risks in writing.
YVONNE: Controversy goes with the territory whenever someone chooses to be honest or challenge the beliefs of others. Every book I’ve written using my own name has made me vulnerable to debate—even my humorous book EMAIL EPISODES is a story about my life falling apart when I began to question everything I believe about God, the Bible and societal norms. My second book is about death, dying and afterlife. In it, I reveal my own story of communicating with earthbound, non-physical beings. That is not something most sound-minded people believe in, but it is something many people experience when a loved one dies. With stem cell research the controversial element was already in place before I began my book.
BARBARA: You’re a savvy businesswoman. You are strategically targeting the publishing of RIGHT TO RECOVER this fall. Why? And why is the time to release a book important to writers in general?
YVONNE: After having President Bush veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act twice during his term in office, the issue of federal funding for stem cell research is of major importance to candidates in the 2008 presidential election. With the debates and political campaigns starting in earnest this fall, I feel that the release of my book is very timely. I would like for every politician to read the book just to see if the scientific knowledge and moral logic has any affect upon their next vote regarding funding for blastocystic stem cell research.
BARBARA: Talk about research! How did you decide when and where to begin? And, how did you know when you had enough, and that it was time to get it written down and out there?
YVONNE: Getting started was the easy part. There is a lot of information in the news about stem cell research. It was up to me to locate scientific experts in the field to help me separate fact from fantasy. It was like a domino effect. Once I contacted one researcher or doctor, he or she would put me in touch with another. Then, I came upon Don C. Reed—a proponent of California’s Proposition 71. Don’s son, Roman has a spinal cord injury that is very likely to be helped by blastocystic stem cell research. He is the founder of Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act who introduced me to Shane Smith Ph.D. Science Director, CNS Foundation, Former Science Director, ‘Yes on Proposition 71’ Don also introduced me to Rayilyn Brown, a woman having Parkinson’s disease. Don, Shane and Ray helped me more than I can ever repay. Without them, this book would not be the factual work it is.
Deciding when to stop was the difficult part.
The scene changes daily with state legislators creating policy about how to handle the stem cell and cloning issues in their state. I finally had to draw the line and call a halt to my writing in order to get the book to print in time for Book Expo America. BARBARA: Tell us about your commitment to continue to bring research and news on stem cell research to your audience. YVONNE: The writing of the book was a large project within itself, but I am daily adding more material to my blog to help people stay informed about changes that have occurred since I sent my manuscript to my publisher. I set up the site as a blog because I want to invite dialog with my readers. This site may be accessed online at www.right2recover.com
We’ll need to take a short break here.
Yvonne, thank you for being our guest today, please stay on the line. When we come back we’ll discuss what makes this timely book such an important read. Listeners, please be sure to download and listen to both parts of the show.
This is Barbara Milbourn and you’re listening to Writers in the Sky Podcast. I am a member of Yvonne Perry’s team of writers and editors. You may read more about me and the Write-On team on our website, Writers in the Sky dot com.
********************* Segment 2 ***********************
BARBARA: Welcome back to Writers in the Sky podcast. I’m your host Barbara Milbourn. Thank you for joining us for part two of my interview with Yvonne Perry, author of RIGHT TO RECOVER Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America.
Welcome back, Yvonne.
YVONNE: Thank you, Barbara.
BARBARA: At least twice in your book you mention “your readers”, saying in one instance that they “are not in the right wing group that opposes research”. How does an author come to know who their readers are and do you expect your reader base to grow in response to this book?
YVONNE: I knew from the start who would be interested in my book and who would oppose it. Since I am an advocate of blastocystic embryonic) stem cell research, I know my book may not bide well with the right-wing and ultra-conservative parties. Even if they read the book, they probably will not change their mind. As a former fundamentalist, I understand that they will not likely be persuaded by logic or factual information. However, those who are on the fence regarding the issue and those who are curious to know more will appreciate the education this book provides.
BARBARA: Let’s discuss content for a few minutes. Your book seeks primarily to educate and inform. I was one of those people who found the issue of stem cell research too daunting to approach. I was ignorant. When ‘human a life begins’ was a question for me; I didn’t know an embryo from a zygote from a morula, and I certainly didn’t know about undifferentiated cells and their potential to cure. I think I’m the majority – and that’s dangerous. Why?
YVONNE: Whenever we believe something someone tells us that cannot be backed up with fact or reason, it is worth investigating the issue before aligning with that position as our own. Many religions teach unquestionable servitude to the leadership or clergy. This can be very dangerous because it causes people to deny their inner guidance and live outside their own personal convictions.
Following the crowd, or adhering to dogma set by an organization can rob a person of their free will. Ignorance about stem cell research and cloning, it causes bills to be passed that negatively impact the well-being of others. It causes good legislation such as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act to fail passage. This bill would bring funding to research that holds great promise to millions of people.
President Bush’s veto of this Bill is a disservice to those like Brian Bloodworth and Michael Davis who have an illness that might be cured by stem cell technology. Just think of our veterans returning from the war in Iraq who have been injured and paralyzed. Animal studies show that spinal cord injury, neurological disorders and Parkinson’s type diseases respond well to blastocystic stem cell implants. People have a right to recover and our president and Congress are denying them this right.
BARBARA: It seems to me that the word “embryo” itself is a real problem—a misnomer as you said—even though the term “embryonic stem cell research” is widely used. Could this word and what it implies lie at the heart of what stops people from embracing and funding stem cell research because they think it is taking a human life?
YVONNE: Absolutely. The term embryo gives the mental image of a tiny fish-looking baby floating around inside its mother. People have the idea that a miniature baby is being chopped into pieces for scientific purposes. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The research many call “embryonic” is actually conducted on a cluster of cells known as a blastocyst. The cell division that brings a fertilized egg to this stage occurs in a Petri lab dish.
Because of terminology, many people have assumed that President Bush is right in his assumption. According to the dictionaries and encyclopedias I checked in my research, these cells cannot even be called an organism.
A blastocyst can only become an organism or embryo if it has implanted in a uterus where it receives proper nourishment to differentiate into all the cells and organs required to form a human being. I re-emphasize that In vitro fertilized eggs cannot develop to the next stage and become an embryo while in the lab. This development requires signals from the mother and without those signals all these cells can do is continue to divide/multiply.
A lab-created blastocyst is not an embryo; it is no more human than a skin cell, a nerve cell, or any other cell in the human body. In vitro blastocyst stem cells might be compared to an acorn. An acorn is not an oak tree, but it has the potential of becoming an oak tree if the proper environment is provided.
Based on the 2006 Random House Unabridged Dictionary, an embryo is “the young of a animal in the early stages of development WITHIN THE WOMB, in humans up to the end of the second month.” NOTE: embryo refers to development inside the uterus, not in vitro.
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the term embryo as “an animal in the early stages of growth characterized by the laying down of fundamental tissues, and the formation of primitive organs and organ systems; especially the developing human individual from the time of implantation to the end of the eighth week after conception.”
NOTE: an embryo has tissues and organs; blastocysts do not. Also, there is a huge difference in fertilization, which may occur in a lab or inside a woman, and conception/implantation, which may ONLY occur in a woman. Without implantation in the womb an embryo cannot begin to form.
BARBARA: Your book expands our visions of the future of medicine and our own part in it. For example, you make a good argument for new parents banking their child’s cord blood when they are born. Could you talk about this one aspect for a moment?
YVONNE: Since there are so few studies on cord blood infusion, it can’t be considered a proven treatment; however, an Illinois mother whom I know, Mary Schneider, banked her son’s cord blood when he was born. Within a year or so Ryan was showing moderate signs of cerebral palsy. After an extensive search for a doctor willing to administer her son’s cord blood CD34 stem cells back to him, Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg introduced stem cells from Ryan’s own cord blood to his body through a 20-minute intravenous drip of stem cells in the back of his hand. This was followed by two hours of saline drip to nudge the cells through his system. The cells then instinctively knew how to find their place and begin repair and regeneration. Within a week Ryan was showing progress and continued to improve in the weeks and months afterward. A few months after the infusion, the dexterity in Ryan’s hands and arms returned. Today the 4-year-old boy speaks clearly in coherent sentences and is at normal weight for his age group. He is testing at normal or even above average levels in motor skill tests.
BARBARA: Your book will be released this fall. How are you marketing it?
YVONNE: At first I started marketing the book myself. I made a 6-month plan to include gathering endorsements and reviews, creating a strong online presence, arranging speaking engagements and lots of press releases. I found that all my time was being spent on marketing the book and since I do have a writing services business to manage, I decided to hire a publicist. Chuck Whiting, here in Nashville, will be handling my promotion from here on.
BARBARA: How can our listeners learn more about you and your new book?
YVONNE: My business Web site is www.writersinthesky.com
and my book URL is right2recover.com. Both of these will link you to my online media room and give tons of information about my writing business, our newsletter, blog, podcast and my books.
Thank you, Yvonne. I’m afraid our time is up for today. It’s been a pleasure talking with you today about RIGHT TO RECOVER Winning the Political and Religious Wars over Stem Cell Research in America.
This is Barbara Milbourn and you’ve been listening to Writers in the Sky Podcast. You may learn more about Write On! Creative Writing Services and access other author interviews on our website, “writers in the sky dot com”.
Thanks for listening.