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Interview with Neil Shea

PUBLISHED: December 5, 2008

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.

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