McNees, Pat 1940- (Pat McNees Mancini)
McNEES, Pat 1940-
(Pat McNees Mancini)
PERSONAL: Born January 30, 1940, in Riverside, CA; daughter of Glenn Harold (an ironworker) and Eleanor (a bank teller; maiden name, McCoskrie) McNees; married Anthony Mancini (a journalist and novelist), April 22, 1967 (divorced, 1978); children: Romana. Ethnicity: "Motley U.S." Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1961; graduate study at Stanford University. Hobbies and other interests: Dancing, cooking/eating, gardening, film.
ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—10643 Weymouth St., Apt. 204, Bethesda, MD 20814. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Harper & Row, New York, NY, assistant editor, 1963-66; Fawcett Publications, New York, NY, editor of "Fawcett Premier Books," 1966-70; freelance editor and writer, 1970—; Resource Planning Associates, Washington, DC, editorial associate, 1979-80; currently consultant in writing, editing, and public relations. Editor and rewriter for various New York City publishers, Washington, DC consulting firms, particularly those specializing in energy and economics, and for think tanks.
MEMBER: American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of Personal Historians, Authors Guild, PEN, Washington Independent Writers, Society of Professional Journalists, Society of Technical Communicators, Women's National Book Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Women's National Book Association selection as one of its favorite books by women from the last twenty-five years for Dying: A Book of Comfort; Excellence in Writing awards, Association of Professional Communications Consultants, for material prepared for a World Bank conference, and for New Formulas for America's Workforce: Girls in Science and Engineering.
(Editor) Contemporary Latin American Short Stories, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1974, reprinted, 1996.
(Editor, as Pat McNees Mancini) Friday's Child, New American Library (New York, NY), 1977.
(Editor) Familiar Faces: Best Contemporary American Short Stories, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1979.
Dancing: A Guide to the Capital Area, P. McNees (Bethesda, MD), 1993.
An American Biography: An Industrialist Remembers the Twentieth Century, Farragut (Washington, DC), 1995.
(Editor) Dying: A Book of Comfort, GuildAmerica Books (Garden City, NY), 1996, reprinted, Warner (New York, NY), 1998.
By Design: The Story of Crown Equipment Corporation, Orange Frazer Press (Wilmington, OH), 1997.
YPO: The First Fifty Years, Orange Frazer Press (Wilmington, OH), 2000.
New Formulas for America's Workforce: Girls in Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation (Arlington, VA), 2003.
Building Ten at Fifty: 50Years of Clinical Research at the NIH Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD), 2003.
Contributor of articles and restaurant reviews to magazines and newspapers, including New York Magazine, Parents, and Washington Post.
SIDELIGHTS: Pat McNees once told CA: "For eight years I worked in book publishing, and part of the reason I quit—apart from the fact that you worked an 80-hour week for 20-hour pay—was that time after time I would spend weeks rewriting someone's book which would do very nicely with nary a word of credit, or a penny of profits, to me—it just didn't seem fair. In 1969, my husband (at the time) and I were making more than we needed to live on so we decided to save my salary, live on his, and save the money for something glamorous. By 1970, we had $10,000, and we spent a year in Europe, which for the most part was a great pleasure. A side benefit of the year abroad (spent chiefly in Italy and Spain) was the birth of our daughter—Romana Mancini—born in Rome.
"Wanting to raise Romy myself rather than leave her in child care, and feeling underappreciated in publishing—wanting my name up in lights, so to speak—I decided to go freelance. I can't say that working at home is an ideal thing to do if you are also trying to be a supermom: the need to say 'don't bother me, I have a deadline,' probably induces as much guilt as not being there in the first place might have done. But it has its advantages. I had to come up with some work I could do at the playground, and the logical thing seemed to be short story collections. I had edited several of them, felt confident of my tastes and the audience's needs, and suggested several ideas to Fawcett Publications. The idea they liked best was a collection of Latin American short stories, which I thought the world needed but which I knew almost nothing about. For a year I read Latin American short stories near Manhattan sandboxes and then spent another two months digging up information on the thirty-five authors included in the collection and trying to track the writers down to get their permission to publish their stories in the anthology.
"As editor of Fawcett's premier line, I had overseen the editing of several anthologies and documentary histories. I learned a lot about structuring such a collection around a theme. Writers are always advised to develop a specialty but my tendency has been to edit or write about new topics, things I wanted to learn about. Like many of my writer friends, I write to satisfy my own curiosity, and what I am curious about changes over time.
"For a while I wrote features and food stories, first for the New York magazine, and then, after 1978, when Romy and I moved to Washington, D.C., for the Washington Post and other outlets. Freelance journalism was ideal when Romy was small, but eventually I realized I could make a more respectable income doing Washington-style writing and editing. Out of practical necessity, I developed a specialty: synthesizing reports and conference discussions. I became adept at writing 'executive summaries' for the many people who need to know what reports say but don't want or have time to read them—writing several thousand summaries for the World Bank and other organizations, such as USAID, the Urban Institute, the United Nations, and the Rockefeller Foundation. An outgrowth of this specialty was the chance to teach workshops as far away as Burma and Lesotho for economists, policymakers, and health-care specialists. I taught how to identify a report's main ideas and audience and make key points clearly and persuasively.
"Editing and rewriting other people's work (which is so much easier than writing your own) provided a practical balance to my own writing, which evolved from feature writing to books.
After McNees's father died of lung cancer she compiled and edited Dying: A Book of Comfort, an anthology of writings on the subject of dying, grief, loss, and surviving the death of a loved one. According to the Reverend Richard B. Gilbert on the GriefNet Web site, the book "is a treasury of life-affirming passages that capture and crystallize the profound emotions surrounding death." Dying was selected by the Women's National Book Association as one of WNBA's favorite books by women from the last twenty-five years.
In addition to editing anthologies, McNees has written a biography and several organizational histories. The subject of An American Biography: An Industrialist Remembers the Twentieth Century, Ohio industrialist Warren Webster, is hardly a household name, but his life mirrors the events of the twentieth century in American and illuminates how one man dealt with a spouse's mental illness and with childrearing while running a corporation. McNees has helped several people write their life stories, including pediatrician Thomas McNair Scott, who taught medicine at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and nuclear engineer Herman Sheets, who oversaw research and development on nuclear submarines at Electric Boat.
McNees spent a year synthesizing findings and best practices in science education from 220 projects funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage more girls, women, and minorities to study and enter careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. In 2003, the national Science Foundation published that book as New Formulas for America's Workforce: Girls in Science and Engineering. Full insights and practical tips for making science come alive and for making science careers a more attractive option, that book was so much in demand by parents and educators that copies from the first printing (7,000) were gone in less than two months. It was an instant NSF best-seller. For this project McNees received a second "Excellence in Writing" award from the Association of Professional Communications Consultants, having received the first one for material prepared for a World Bank conference on sanitation.
In 2003, McNees conducted interviews with more than a hundred clinical researchers and patients at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where the various Institutes see patients for intramural clinical research. McNees wrote, and the NIH published, a brief history of the Clinical Center marking its fiftieth anniversary, and she plans to write a fuller account of the Center's clinical research for a trade publisher. McNees told CA: "Twenty years ago my nephew went there on a research protocol and Clinical Center surgeons put a stint in his brain, where a ventricle had collapsed. I was so fascinated by what went on there that when the opportunity came to learn more about the place, I jumped at the chance. . . . The patients I've interviewed often say things like, 'The NIH resotred my faith in medicine.' . . . It's wonderful when you find a subject that is both fascinating and worthwhile." McNees is also the executive producer of a brief video documentary about the Clinical Center, Bench to Bedside and Back Again.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Washington City Paper, July 28, 1995, Michael Dolan, "Jacking Up History," review of An American Biography: An Industrialist Remembers the Twentieth Century, pp. 33+.
GriefNet,http://griefnet.org/ (April 1, 2003), Richard B. Gilbert, review of Dying: A Book of Comfort.
Pat McNees Home Page,http://www.patmcnees.com/ (May 6, 2004).
Reading Group Choices,http://www.readinggroupchoices.com/ (April 1, 2003), Robin Marantz Henig, review of An American Biography.*