Last evening I had a fabulous Skype-chat with Daoud, which focused me and was remarkably revealing at the same time. At the moment we’re working on gathering as many stories and events as possible to help me build an overall picture, and to help Daoud to recall events that, let’s face it, happened a little while ago. By composing timelines we get to look at everything chronologically: today, I gathered a Palestinian politics timeline from 1917 to present day, while Daoud did a timeline of his professional life.

As we Skyped, we discussed his childhood years and discussed how his childhood differed to that of his children’s. He really is a truly fascinating man! The more I learn about this story, the more exciting I know it’ll be when we have it all ready to publish.

I have a fair amount of reading to do, before we talk next, which includes a number of interviews and articles about or with him. In the next week or so, I’ll also take delivery of his dad’s biography as well, which will shine even more light on Daoud’s life and the life of Palestinians during last century. There is SO much that could be included in the book because of how incredibly varied and interesting Daoud’s life has been and is, that we are working to keep the focus on Sesame Street and the Sesame Street years – with hops back and forth to childhood experiences, and stories of his family and the audience’s across the years – to keep the common thread of Sesame Street clear.

In Palestinian Walks, by Raja Shehadeh, for example, although he reminisces and draws on other experiences, it is always because of something that happened on a walk, so, likewise, although Daoud had a rather ‘amusing’ and fairly unsuccessful interview with Arafat, which is fascinating and exciting to read, it isn’t Sesame Street-related, so it seems incongruous in a book about Sesame Street — even though it IS in Palestine.

Given that Sharaa Simsim (Sesame Street in Arabic) is now in its fifth season, it’s reasonable to assume there are ample stories that will keep the reader hooked and moving to the next page. There’s probably a book for each season, in truth!

Readers love feeling that they’ve been given tidbits and on-set gossip; they want to know and love the ‘characters’ they’re reading about. Theywant to feel emotion for both the cast (Daoud’s son amoung them) and crew as well as for the children watching. What seems day-to-day for Daoud and his team is an entirely other world for the US (and UK (and me!!)) readers. Getting an understanding of what it’s like to work under the various conditions endured by the team across the years is thrilling in itself.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of market research as well and scanning through our ‘competitors’ to pin-point what it is that readers like (all part of the proposal preparation as well) in terms of content and writing style. It’s no surprise that the biggest sellers are those with quite sensational, intimate details.

I’ll be honest, though, nothing has captured me as much as this story – I’m getting all jittery just thinking about how to get all those stories out of him because I want to know all of it, because I know that the reader will want to know all of it.
In the US and UK, we are (usually) so sheltered from real danger that we hunt it down in our literature. Every year there is another WW1 or WW2 story in the bestsellers’ charts, every year we see another Middle East or Asian story about childhood survival or overcoming great odds because, I suppose, there’s almost a feeling of being cheated out of ‘excitement’.
We’ve all been watching the riots in London, but something that has really struck me — aside, of course, frome the absolute mindlessness of it all — is quite how many bystanders there are milling about, waiting for something horrendous to happen. Why? The police have made countless requests for those not involved to just get off the streets, so the police can do what they need to do … but the bystanders remain. Is that the same in Palestine? Or is daily life more a matter of keeping one’s head down and getting on with it?
Next chat is on Friday, but there’s reading aplenty to wade through and write about before then.
Proofreader, copy-writer and copy-editor

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