Christopher Reeve Homepage
Recent News
Online Shop
Movie Reviews
Contact Info
Have Your Say
Photo Gallery
Song Lyrics
Mailing Lists
Other Websites

Still Me - Exclusive Interview with June Fox

In "Acknowledgments" at the beginning of Still Me, Christopher Reeve had this to say about the woman who assisted him by transcribing his words:

I am especially indebted to June Fox, who became much more than a transcriber of my thoughts. I literally could not have written the book without her.

While maintaining this website, I was fortunate to have been contacted by June, who graciously agreed to an e-mail interview. Here she answers a number of questions we at the Christopher Reeve Homepage had put together. Thank you June! :)


June Fox with Chris Reeve
June Fox with Chris Reeve
Q: Would you please tell us a little about yourself and your work?

June: I'm primarily a science editor. Most of my professional life has been spent in New York working on college textbooks, with two years spent working in San Francisco. I've been extremely lucky, because the authors I've worked with have often been fascinating and occasionally eccentric. Several have become dear friends.

Q: Is Christopher Reeve the first author with whom you have worked? If not, can you tell us a little about previous projects and when in your career they took place?

June: Chris was the first author I worked with who wasn't an academic. The experience was unique, because I had always worked with physicists, mathematicians, musicologists, psychology professors. My favorites were the physicists. My theory is that their deep feelings about the enormity and majesty of the universe and the powerful forces at work here seem to give physicists a particular kind of humility that I admire. Interestingly, Chris shares this quality.

Q: What are you working on now?

June: I'm writing copy for a website called CraftArt that will be selling crafts online starting July 1st. And I'm working with a friend who is a therapist on a sort of self-help book for gays. It's a potentially fascinating project.

Q: You mentioned that Roger Rosenblatt, who was originally signed to co- author "Still Me", bowed out because Chris felt no one else can "get into my head" and that he needed to work alone. How far into the book did Chris decide this and how did you become involved?

June: Roger conducted a series of private interviews with Chris, then drafted several chapters based on these discussions. I think there were about 70 hours of taped conversations. I don't think the collaboration worked as well as Chris had hoped. Anyway, it turned out that Chris was more than capable of doing the book solo. He had no way of knowing this before he started, as this was his first book.

And I think that Random House was initially more comfortable with the idea that there would be a coauthor. They liked knowing that an experienced writer would be working with this previously unpublished celebrity. But as the book progressed, it became clear to everyone that Chris has a talent for writing. He not only has a fascinating story, but an exceptional ability to tell it. He is amazingly articulate. He has delivered polished and entertaining speeches with no notes or advance preparation - commencement addresses at universities, even speeches for Congress. He is one of the most organized and lucid people I have ever met.

Q: What was the procedure you and Chris followed for writing "Still Me"? Did you work from his house and how often did you meet?

June: We worked at his house in New York, in his study overlooking a wooded area and a pond. He would dictate, and I would read back to him. During the summer, I also spent a few days working with him at his home in Williamstown, Massachusetts (the picture on the cover of STILL ME was taken there). He and his wife Dana are still involved with the summer theatre there. We worked several days a week over a ten month period.

We usually started at about 11:30 A.M., because it takes Chris and his aides a few hours to ready him for the day. We always worked nonstop until dinner time. He has a lot of energy and self-discipline. I usually stayed for another hour or so inserting changes and printing out fresh copies of the manuscript.

After I printed the day's work, I put a copy of it on a music stand in his office. The next day, we would go through it, page by page, making revisions. Chris is a perfectionist, so we went through each chapter a minimum of four times, making improvements.

Q: Was there an outline where Chris went back and forth between his injury and his previous life or did he just talk and organize it later?

June: He didn't work from an outline, but he had one in his head. He had an amazing ability to organize as he went along. He never just free-associated - he always knew where he was going. He tried to organize everything he wanted to say around certain key themes (the accident, his time in rehab, his career, his childhood, his courtship with Dana, and his life now). There was very little reshuffling that had to be done later, just some duplication of material that had to be trimmed.

Q: Parts of the first two chapters describe Dana's activities in the first days after the accident while Chris was unconscious. How was that part of the book done? Did you transcribe Dana's recollections?

June: Dana and Chris had done a lot of talking about those days, so they had already worked out most of the details together. Dana read the chapters after Chris was finished working on them. She made a few corrections to things that she recalled somewhat differently , and she suggested a few additional anecdotes that Chris hadn't included but that she believed were important. The most notable one involved something Will said to her and other family members when Chris was still hospitalized: about how Chris wouldn't be able to walk or play ball but would still be able to smile. Dana came in one morning while we were working and recounted the incident, and I typed it up as she spoke. Then Chris and I revised and finalized it. We all worked well together. It all went easily.

Q: Could you tell us a humorous story about working with Chris?

June: There was this very large, peaceful dog named Oliver that spent a lot of time at Chris's house. Occasionally he would wander into the study while we were working, just look at us for a minute, and wander out again. I think he belonged to one of Will's baby sitters. One day, I looked out the window as Chris was dictating, and I saw Oliver, trotting happily across the yard, with one of the neighbors 'chickens dangling from his mouth. I rose from my chair with an involuntary cry -- "ohmigod" or something like that. Chris, who was always sure that some computer glitch was going to erase everything we had done, immediately shot back an alarmed, "What's the matter??? Did we lose everything?" Much of the rest of the day was spent trying to figure out what to do with the dog and, especially, how to break the news to the neighbors. It was pretty funny at the time. Maybe you had to be there. Really, the funniest things were certain anecdotes Chris put into the book -- his stories about Robin Williams, for example. And whenever Chris spoke about Katharine Hepburn, he would do an uncannily perfect imitation of her voice, which always made me laugh. And then there were funny little details I can't reveal -- such as when he told me who the poor boyfriend actually was, in his anecdote about the girl Chris was.... well, never mind.

Q: Could you tell us a serious story about working with Chris?

June: The most upsetting thing for Chris is when something confines him to his bed. While working on the book, this happened a couple of times. One day his doctor told him that he would have to stay in bed for a month in order for a wound to heal. Chris was so depressed about this that he sent me home. He asked me to do what I could on the current chapter on my own, and to come back the next morning. By the next day, he was in complete control of his emotions and we were able to continue working. I just moved the laptop and the music stand with the manuscript on it into his bedroom. By then one of the aides had set up a computer monitor, so that Chris could see what I was typing, and we moved that in there, too. I have tremendous respect for the way Chris always overcomes these emotional and physical setbacks. He does it through the sheer force of his own will and self-discipline. He refuses to give in to self-pity. I don't think many people could do what he does.

Other serious moments centered around sensitive material that he decided to cut from the manuscript. Most of the people Chris writes about in the book are still living, obviously, and he was very concerned about not hurting them unnecessarily. He often cut something to protect someone's feelings. Frequently, these were passages that were particularly powerful or emotional, and there were a few I felt were important and wished he would leave in the book. We had several discussions about this issue. I tried to convince him that his openness and honesty would only serve to make his book even more valuable to readers with similar experiences or challenges. My bias is generally in the "leave it in, tell it like it is" direction. Sometimes I could persuade him, and sometimes his caution prevailed. The wonderful thing was that he was always willing to give me a hearing.

Chris Reeve with his son Will
Chris Reeve with his son Will
Q: What is your most memorable moment from working on "Still Me"?

June: I really don't have one. It was all memorable. I was particularly touched by his interactions with his children. When Will came home from school, everything would stop for him. He would come running in to see Chris, and even if Chris was mid-sentence, Chris would stop short. He would give Will a big smile, ask him questions about his day, let him crawl all over his dad. Sometimes Will would sit on my lap and type. This would slow things down enormously, and Chris was very conscientious about deadlines, but they were just not as important as spending time with Will.

I met his older children, too, Matthew and Ali, and they are lovely. Chris always has time to stop and listen to his children., no matter what else is going on. They come first, and you can see how close this has made them feel to him. They come to him for advice on everything.

Q: What is your favorite part of Chris's book?

June: Probably the romance with Dana. I'm a romantic.

Q: Did Chris ever mention the greatest lesson he has learned during the past three years?

June: That the way to grace and salvation is through the giving of love. This is the enormous lesson he elaborates in the book. The importance of his relationships with his wife and children.

He never said anything to me like, "the most important thing I've learned" or "if this accident has taught me anything" or anything like that. But it's pretty clear what he has taken from it. He says something else in the book that is very moving. Something about how his acting experience had always trained him to be "in the moment"; but that when "the moment" is so difficult, it becomes an entirely different challenge. More than anyone else I know, he has taken responsibility for his life and what he chooses to do with it. There is no trivia, no frivolousness. Everything he does is because he knows its value, from lobbying for scientific research to listening to his wife to playing with Will.

Q: You recently went to Random House's book publication party on May 13, 1998, in honor of the release of "Still Me". Could you describe that day? Did you have a chance to talk to Chris?

June: The day was heaven. Pure euphoria. Just entering the party, wending my way through the crowds outside and the paparazzi was delightful. Everyone at the party was floating, because we had learned that on Sunday, the book was going to be #2 on the New York Times best seller list. I did get to speak to Chris, and he was just basking in the success of the book. He gave a lovely little talk to the crowd after being introduced by the president of Random House. He thanked Dana and he thanked me, which, of course, made my night -- my week, probably my year. I spent a lot of time talking with his mother, who is very gracious, and with his brother Ben. I also spoke with Alec Baldwin, who is a friend of Chris's from an organization called Creative Coalition. It's a night I won't forget.

Q: Do you know if Chris is aware of the Christopher Reeve Homepage? Do you know what he and others associated with him think of it?

June: I've written to Chris about it, but I haven't gotten his reaction yet. I know he will get to it. He has been overwhelmed by the onslaught of interviews and mail that have followed the book. There wasn't time to speak with him about the homepage at the book party, unfortunately. There was a line of people waiting to speak with him and I didn't want to take much of his time. I doubt he could focus on anything that night, anyway. Too much excitement.

Q: So many people love Chris and his family. Some, like members of the Light a Star Network, are even donating their time and skills to raise money for spinal cord research. Do you know if he is aware of the work that people are doing and the depth of feeling for him?

June: I know that he is. And I know how much it means to him. He is very moved by the caring and the love. And hardly anything escapes him; he is a shrewd observer of everything that goes on around him. He is still surprised at what an icon he has become. But he is always deeply appreciative.

Q: What is Christopher Reeve REALLY like--based on your experiences, of course?

June: Gallant. Grounded. Exceptionally diplomatic and sensitive to the feelings of people around him. Gracious. An incredibly involved parent. The most self- disciplined person I have ever met.

Q: In public, Chris always seems so confident that he will be able to walk again, perhaps by his 50th birthday. When he is out of the spotlight, does he seem as sure that a cure for spinal cord injury is near?

June: Absolutely.

Q: When interviewed by David Letterman on May 12, Chris said that he would like to write another book after he is cured. Would you like to work with Chris again if you have the chance?

June: What do you think?

Once again I would publicly like to thank June Fox for taking the time out to answer these questions, and for agreeing to do the interview.

Steve Younis

Copyright notice: Photographs Copyright © 1998; June Fox. Used with author's permission.


News Reports | Biography | Fundraising | Online Shop | Autobiography
Movie Reviews | Contact Info | Have Your Say | Photo Gallery | Song Lyrics
Transcripts | Mailing Lists | Interviews | Other Websites | About Us | Search

This page is Copyright © 1999-2005, Steven Younis. All Rights Reserved

Jump to Steven Younis' unofficial Superman Homepage