‘Seabiscuit’ Author Hillenbrand ‘Unbreakable’ in Face of Illness

by | 12.18.2014 | 6:18pm

As a film adaptation of her latest book hits theaters this week amid Oscar buzz, author Laura Hillenbrand sat down with New York Times Magazine to discuss the health struggles that have kept her house-bound for much of the past two decades.

Hillenbrand suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, a difficult and painful condition that sometimes leaves her too dizzy to read, let alone travel to author appearances or for research projects. The Seabiscuit writer hasn't let the condition prevent her from sniffing out the details behind a historical figure or story, though. Her recent book, Unbroken, which profiles World War II fighter Louis Zamperini, was based on hundreds of hours of telephone interviews with Zamperini, who lived in California while Hillenbrand wrote the book. Unable to read microfilm, Hillenbrand conducts much of her research by buying vintage newspapers on eBay and parsing them in her living room, as if they were any other paper.

It was through one of her perusals of an old newspaper during her research process for Seabiscuit that she stumbled across a short news item about Zamperini, which eventually inspired Unbroken. Hillenbrand, who is feeling stronger these days, revealed that she has similarly come across another historical tale which she believes will be the subject of her next book, but is not ready to reveal the topic to the public yet.

Read more at the New York Times magazine

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