Kelley Benham and Tom French on "Never Let Go," book collaboration, first-person writing, memory and love

Tampa Bay Times reporter Kelley Benham went into labor four months early and delivered her daughter, Juniper, at 23 weeks: a baby who weighed 20 ounces and was no taller than a Barbie doll. Doctors told Benham and her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer and University of Indiana and Goucher College instructor Tom French, that the tiny infant was almost certain to die and would suffer from severe disabilities if she lived.

Juniper spent six months in a NICU — a place Tom describes as “an almost alien place, a very science fiction world where these babies who were meant to be inside their mothers are suddenly out.”

Last December, Benham published “Never Let Go,” a searing, intimate narrative series on her experience and the larger questions it raised about the cost and ethics of extreme medical interventions. Benham and French are working together on a book about the fight to save their daughter. Benham and French spoke together at the Mayborn, interspersing conversation with photos of their daughter. The text has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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