Theasa Tuohy has worked for five daily newspapers and the Associated Press. She is co-book author of Scandalous: The Musical, an award winning show about the life of DH Lawrence, and has written a memoir about renovating her home in France. She is currently working on a mystery set in Paris. She lives in Manhattan.
Theasa, tell me about some of the most memorable pieces you wrote as a journalist.
Any and all of it. It's a wonderful life. I did stories on vicious gang members from Detroit, once covered the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., interviewed Weeb Ewbank in his home when he was coach of the NY Jets, only reporter ever allowed into Abbie Hoffman's home when he was the scourge of the FBI. Had lunch with a member of the British parliament, did a phone interview with a New York looter from my desk in Detroit. No one could figure out how I could have such contacts, but the details were so vivid and accurate the paper stripped it across the top of Page One. I leaped out of a moving car to catch up with Bobby Kennedy, and still have the grainy news clip of me standing next to him on a campaign platform taking notes. I spent hours with the French sculptor Jacques Lipchitz in his studio in Hastings. I accidentally ended up covering the Oklahoma City bombing because I was in town to celebrate my mother's birthday when the explosion occurred. When I was at the Detroit Free Press I did profiles on William F. Buckley, Gloria Steinem, Arthur J. Goldberg, former Supreme Court justice, UN ambassador, and secretary of labor. For the Associated Press, I wrote about my mother who was an aviator in the late 1920s. The list goes on.
How long have you worked on “The Five O'Clock Follies”?
On and off for many years. I began when I was working for the Op Ed page at Newsday and found a book called “Big Story” in the slush pile. It was a 598-page, abridged version of a study by Peter Braestrup with the subtitle “How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington.” I can still remember sitting up in bed that first night and studying it, mainly the 1968 map of central Saigon with locations of all of the press offices marked. When I went to Saigon many years later, I had a copy of that map. And when a guide pointed out what he called the opera house, I was stunned. It can't be, it's the National Assembly Building. He laughed. That's what it was in 1968.
A young woman's odds-against struggle to survive as a war correspondent in Saigon. Former journalist Tuohy has written what may be the best novel yet to emerge from the Vietnam War. Meticulously researched, with award-winning photos of the time. “The action is riveting and the writing is clear, detailed and highly readable. An engrossing portrait of a woman among men in wartime.” –Kirkus