Laura Hillenbrand, the best-selling author of Seabiscuit:
An American Legend, seems to be everywhere these days. That’s quite a feat
for someone who can rarely leave her Washington , D.C. brownstone.
With her finely crafted book about the beloved 1930s racehorse
still riding atop numerous “best of” lists, a PBS documentary about ’Biscuit
featuring her as one of the main storytellers, a star-studded motion picture
based on the book headed for theatres this July and media interviews blanketing
print and broadcast outlets, it seems the country just can’t get enough of
Laura. It’s a boon for
CFIDS awareness since
Hillenbrand uses every opportunity to talk about the illness that has narrowed
her life for the past 16 years.
Even though her health is somewhat better than it was at the
worst point of her battle — when she needed help just to roll over in bed —
Laura still must carefully limit her commitments. She does radio interviews by
phone from her bedroom and reporters must come to her.
Laura joined Tony Kornheiser’s sports talk radio show on April 21, the day the PBS
documentary first aired. When he asked about her health (she’s been his guest
several times before), she sought to explain her perky voice and articulate
answers. “I’m doing better, but am still not as well as you might think or as I
might sound. Few people realize how serious CFS can be.”
Yet the truth is evident when you hear about the opportunities
she’s had to give up. Even though her book has achieved staggering sales
records, she’s only made two public appearances since it hit shelves two years
ago. She has consulted with film producers on the Seabiscuit movie that stars
Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper, but she didn’t get to rub elbows
with the actors (including the five horses that play Seabiscuit) or visit the
set. And she’ll miss out on the glitzy premiers being planned for
Manhattan . She’s simply too ill to
take advantage of the perks to which she is entitled.
Expect to hear more from Laura as the film premier draws
closer. Her own account of her harrowing CFIDS
story will run in New Yorker magazine when war coverage subsides. People
magazine is planning a profile about how she overcame odds to write
Seabiscuit. Other interviews with top media outlets are in the works,
too. A special illustrated edition of Seabiscuit and a paperback version
featuring photos from the movie will soon be released, likely generating another
round of media interviews.
Laura’s hinted that she’s finally settled on the subject of
her next book. Although it will be another work of non-fiction, she remains
tight-lipped about further details. “I hope it’s something that will inspire the
same interest and excitement as Seabiscuit’s story.” And, hopefully, it will
create more venues to educate people about
CFIDS and Laura’s own long-shot triumphs.
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