Q: How did you come up with the idea for A Perfect Life, and were the characters based on real people?Visit Eileen Pollack's website.
A: I came up with it years ago, in the 1980s. My then-husband was doing his Ph.D. research at MIT at the lab of Dr. David Housman, who was working to find the gene for Huntington’s chorea.
I was fascinated by the role of a woman, Nancy Wexler, who was finding families who carried the gene for Huntington’s. Nancy herself was at risk for the disease.
Her mother had died of Huntington’s…Nancy’s father had funded a foundation to carry out research. Nancy had a sister who was also at risk.
Her story is so fraught. Everybody wondered if she had inherited the disease. It would be the first marker for an inherited gene. If she took the test [that was developed], she would know [if she would develop the disease], but there was no cure. I was very interested in Nancy and her decision: would she marry or have children?
Also, there was Arlo Guthrie. His father, Woody Guthrie, died of Huntington’s, and he also was 50-50 for the disease. He did fundraising for the disease. I thought, what if they fell in love with each other?
I knew the biology from living with my husband, and I have a background in physics. I was...[read on]