After winning a $333-million court case against Pacific Gas & Electric, having her story made into a movie and seeing the actress who portrayed her win an Academy Award, what could be next? A book, of course. Brockovich spoke with PW from her California home about her book, Take It from Me: Life's a Struggle But You Can Win.
PW: What was the book-writing process like for you?
EB: I found it extremely enjoyable. Marc [Eliot, Brockovich's co-author] is very intelligent and very enlightening. He seems to understand my character and what I'm about, so it became the best therapy process I've ever gone through.
PW: How do you feel about the finished product?
EB: I'm very proud of the book, and I'm looking forward to the tour. If anything I'm offering in my book can help anyone else who has a fight on their hands, or who's just a single parent, [to tell them] that they can get through adversity, if it offers any hope that tomorrow will be a better day, then I really feel that I've accomplished something, and I'm very, very proud of that.
PW: How do you think it'll sell?
EB: I have no idea. When I gave my first lecture, I was so nervous, and everyone said, "What are you so nervous about?" I said, "What if nobody comes?" It's the same thing with the book—what if nobody buys it? But I am such a believer that you've got to take that risk and make that failure to see your ultimate goal accomplished.
PW: What do you hope a reader gains from your book?
EB: We have these images in our minds of what is or isn't supposed to be, and I think what I want people to understand is that it really doesn't matter whether you have a four-year degree or a two-year degree, whether you live in a big house or a small house or if you have $100,000 or $5,000 in the bank. What really matters is you as an individual believing that no matter what lot you were given in life, you can make it better.
PW: Is that how you've lived your life?
EB: I can look back on my life and see where I have clearly made mistakes. I wish that someone had written me a book! I wouldn't change anything that I've done, though, because [it's filled with experiences that] became the lessons that helped build the character to create the person I am proud of being.
PW: Do you read self-help books?
EB: I like self-help books. One that really helped me was Dr. Claire Weekes's Peace from Nervous Suffering. I've also read Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and Why Do I Think I'm Nothing Without a Man?
PW: What sets your book apart from other self-help books?
EB: The lessons came from learned experience. A lot of the self-help books I've read come from a doctor or a psychiatrist. My book includes my own personal accounts of failed relationships, anorexia, a learning disability, panic disorder and raising children on my own. I've been in the trenches and while I was in there I learned these lessons.
PW: How has it been working with McGraw-Hill?
EB: I have to thank them. There's always somebody that takes that chance in believing in you. Ed [Masry, of Masry & Vititoe Law] believed in me. The people of Hinkley [Calif., the town whose water supply was contaminated] believed in me. Jersey Films [Danny DeVito's production company, which produced Erin Brockovich] believed in the story. McGraw-Hill believed in the book, and I wouldn't have had this opportunity had they not given me a shot.