Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Mei Fong Explains How to Research and Write a Nonfiction Book

Mei Fong is a journalist with more than a decade of reporting in Asia, most recently as China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, which is where she was working when I met her several years ago in Beijing.

Her stories on China’s transformative process in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics formed part of the package that won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, an honor she shared with her colleagues at the Journal.

Her work has also won awards from Amnesty International, New York’s Society of Professional Journalists, and the Society of Publishers in Asia.

Mei appears regularly as a China commentator on NPR, CBS, CNN, and PBS. She has taught at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and at Shantou University in China.
And she is currently the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America, a think-tank in Washington, DC.

Last year she published her first book, One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment. The book recounts the history and after-effects of China’s one-child policy, the country’s longest-running and most radical social experiment.

Through a combination of in-depth research, on-the-ground reporting, and vivid storytelling that draws on her time as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in China, One Child explores the far-reaching social and economic impact of the policy.

In our conversation, Mei explains how she got the idea for the book, how she meticulously conducted the research that went into it, and the process she went through to pitch it to publishers, write it, and edit it.

She also shares some inspiring and very practical advice for writers, and she reveals her favorite writing craft book—which happens to be one of my favorites as well!

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