One question I suspect writers are sick of hearing from me when they pitch stories: “What does that have to do with Dallas?” By which, of course, I mean North Texas. But never Metroplex, because that is an ugly, fake word whose eradication this magazine has unsuccessfully fought for since its founding, in 1974. I digress. The point of my question is that we at D Magazine aim to publish stories of local interest, stories with a terroir that would make them unsuitable for the pages of Milwaukee Magazine, just to pick a random monthly city title. So when Sarah Hepola pitched me a story about plastic surgery, I said, “Sure!” She’d said in her pitch, “I know you’re going to ask me about the Dallas thing. This is very much about Dallas. Trust me.”
Trust is something I afford only a few writers. Too many times, desperate to fill pages, working too quickly on deadline, I’ve trusted a writer. They are like your children. You love them, but they seem put on this earth to betray your trust. Not Sarah. For my money (really the magazine’s money), she is the most talented personal essayist working in Dallas, and that includes Richardson and Plano, too.
Sarah grew up in University Park, eventually became the Dallas Observer’s music editor, then moved to New York for six years and worked at Salon, where she edited personal essays. She returned to Dallas about eight years ago and wrote a monthly column for D called The Smart Blonde (“a mix of cultural reporting, personal writing, and anthropology”). After about a year of that, Sarah stopped working for the magazine because she had to go write a New York Times bestseller titled Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, which came out in 2015.
But back to her pitch. Even with Sarah’s assurance about the “Dallas thing,” I still wasn’t sold on the idea. Rather, I was sold on the writer. Aside from one short morsel she gave the magazine last year, she hadn’t written anything of substance for D in six years. I was hungry.
When Sarah turned in her story, I was delighted. First, she made my job easy. A comma here, a word choice there, that was it. Second, the story turned out not to be about plastic surgery. Not really. I won’t reveal too much, but in print it was titled, “Growing Old Gratefully.” That should give you a hint. Hepola’s story went online today.