In a couple of weeks I am interviewing some Cornish breast cancer survivors and Mermaid patients who have had preventive surgery due to their family history. Meanwhile I have been thinking about how to turn records back into real people, such as 31 year-old Lydia Dettmer ("married, and of a confident habit") who in 1811 was admitted to a London hospital for surgery on a breast tumour "the size of a filbert" — think hazelnut. And next to me is an email from a friend, telling me about her seamstress grandmother who made her own prosthesis with fabric and wool stuffing in post-war upstate New York. While I enjoy the random nature of these stories, working them into a coherent narrative and integrating them into my own story is a real challenge. Mermaids and Monsters is a history and a memoir, after all. The nitty gritty of this project, the lacemaking, is about to begin.