They’re trying to turn me into a novelist!

By Jack El-Hai | March 4, 2024 |

I’ll have a new book coming out a year from now. Titled Face in the Mirror: A Surgeon, a Patient, and a Second Chance at Life, it tells the story of Andy Sandness, a young man who underwent a face transplant at the Mayo Clinic in 2016. The publisher is Mayo Clinic Press.

The book’s forthcoming release has me thinking about book talks, radio and podcast interviews, and all the other ways authors get word out about a new book. I’ve been remembering an odd phenomenon I noticed after the publication of my last book.

Often, at public readings or events, someone in attendance would refer to my work as a novel, even though it was clearly a nonfiction book. When that happened, I would correct the person who misspoke and say that I write factual books only and do not make up anything.

Many times, that approach left the other person looking confused, and I did not know why. Later I realized that a segment of the reading public refers to all books, fictional or factual, as novels. If its pages are bound between covers, a book is a novel regardless of its content.

This time around, I’ll ignore the misappellation. Readers will understand that what’s in Face in the Mirror cannot be invented.

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