The Nieman Narrative Digest has an interview with Neil Shea about writing “Ramadi Nights,” which appeared in our Winter 2008 issue earlier this year. Shea says, of writing the article:
It was one of the first times in my career where I had the sort of moment I’ve heard other journalists speak of—where I just had to write it, put it out there, whether or not it was published. I wrote in my spare time and tried not to think about of where I would send it or what would happen to it. When I decided it was finished, I sent it cold to VQR. Ted Genoways, the amazing editor there, decided to take a chance on it. Later I asked Andrea Bruce if she’d contribute photos to go with the text. It was off the cuff; I’d only met her once, briefly.
“Ramadi Nights” is a remarkable account of how Ramadi improved so much so fast, enhanced tremendously by Bruce’s veiled, dream-like photographs. We were all asking who this Neil Shea guy was when his submission showed up in our office. It’s not every day that war-zone reportage drops into our lap.