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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, Liisa Jorgensen talks about her new book, Far Side Of The Moon, about the women and children of the Apollo space programme.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Liisa Jorgensen about her life and career, what made her want to write about the women and children of the Apollo space programme, and the work that went into writing Far Side Of The Moon.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I have worked as a writer and story editor on a diverse variety of film and television productions for Myth Merchant Films for over 20 years. I believe in the power of story and its ability to help us transform and become better humans.

Liisa Jorgensen, author of Far Side Of The Moon, on The Table Read
Liisa Jorgensen

I am especially interested in ending the stigmas associated with mental illness, as well as highlighting those who serve a greater good and live for something other than themselves.

I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Writers Work - Get Paid to Write

When did you take a step to start writing?

What I am always looking for is an untold, unbelievable, and deeply human story, which is what I uncovered about Frank and Susan Borman while doing my research on Apollo. I’ve learned to be a story archeologist because you truly have to search for those stories that have it all: adventure, challenges to overcome, personal transformation, and that bit of magic – which all combined makes for a powerful and inspiring narrative.

I feel that one of the most difficult parts of starting the process to write a book is finding a story that checks all the boxes: an active human quest, emotional stakes that are very high along with trials and obstacles to rise above. The challenge for me as a non-fiction writer is that I can’t manufacture that, so it is a treasure hunt to find one that meets each one of those metrics.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The process from idea to publication took 2 years. I wrote the book in 3 months by setting a goal of 1,500 words a day, five days a week and didn’t quit until I met that goal every day.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Far Side Of The Moon?

I have worked as a story editor and production manager for an Emmy® award winning film company for the last 20 years. We are always looking for unbelievable non-fiction stories, and I felt on a gut level that I found that when I came across Frank and Susan’s beautiful story.

There have been many books written about the Apollo space program, but not through the eyes of the women and children that were experiencing it in a different way from the well-known astronauts. I wanted to be the one to do that. 

What were your biggest challenges with writing Far Side Of The Moon?

I would say the biggest challenge for me was believing that I could actually do it. That I could tell this amazing story and honour these people in the way that I believed they deserved.

I overcame it by reminding myself daily that I made a promise to them that I would not only finish the book, but get it published.

What was your research process for Far Side Of The Moon?

I had to get the Bormans’ support to begin with, and when I got the green light on that I dived into the research. I interviewed Frank numerous times in his home in Montana and spent countless hours on the phone with him. He never wavered in his recounting of the very painful moments I’m certain he would rather forget.

During one of my visits, Frank reached into the back of the closet in his office and pulled out two water-tight plastic containers with decades of cards and letters that Susan and he shared over their lifetime which he entrusted me with. I also interviewed their friends and family.

Because of my relationship with the Bormans, and the doors that it opened, I was able to interview and speak candidly with the astronaut wives that are still with us as well. It was such a privilege to talk to these amazing women.

How did you plan the structure of Far Side Of The Moon?

I was quite overwhelmed when I really started to dive into the research and realized how vast the scope of this story actually was.

I got stuck on how to start the book, and once I got over that hurdle, I just had to take it one day at a time.

Francis of Assisi sums it up perfectly: Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

The #1 Writing Tool

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Far Side Of The Moon need?

My publisher Chicago Review Press had an editing protocol that the book went through. I was fortunate that the structure of the story was never questioned or altered, and so it was just about fact checking and grammar. I also did a final read through myself and got rid of some things that were redundant in my opinion.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

I realized early on that you need a support system of people that will help talk you off a ledge when you think that everything you’ve written is garbage and you are wallowing in self-doubt. I was very fortunate to have that.

I also learned to be open to constructive criticism and to accept being wrong about anything that didn’t serve the story even if I was attached to it…BUT to also go with my gut as opposed to just listening to someone’s opinion on how they would do it. I understood early on that having a strong sense of the story I wanted to tell kept me from second guessing myself.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I am researching another non-fiction book right now that I plan on starting this summer. I’m really excited about it!

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

It absolutely was. Meeting Frank and Susan Borman and being allowed into their lives in a way that no other author prior had, was both humbling and terrifying. I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to “get it right” and to never let them regret trusting me with so many private and personal things. It was definitely a mountain top experience for me.

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