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.