Around this time last year, I welcomed Jolina Petersheim to the blog to answer some questions about her debut novel, The Outcast. I am so excited that Jolina is back with us today to talk about her latest novel, The Midwife. I am so excited that one of my favorite bloggers not only as one, but now TWO books! This is a dream for so many of us writers/bloggers, so I’m excited to support her in this exciting journey.
The Midwife is the story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a story about the ethical, moral and emotional issues surrounding a topic we don’t hear too much about, surrogacy. Just like The Outcast, The Midwife kept me turning the pages until I quickly finished the story. Welcome back, Jolina!
1. How did you decide to write about surrogacy?
My dear friend in college discussed using a gestational surrogate in the future because she would be unable to carry a child of her own due to the medication she was taking for a heart transplant.
This made me contemplate all of the many obstacles in surrogacy that everyone involved would have to overcome:
What if the surrogate became attached to the child? What if, God forbid, something happened to one of the parents, or if there was a chromosomal abnormality, and the parents decided they did not want the child any longer?
All of these disparate ideas coalesced into the concept for The Midwife once I gave birth to a child of my own. I knew that even if I was of no relation to the child, if my body had sustained her for nine months, she would still be my daughter, even if we shared no genetic connection.
From there, the story went on to expound upon the heights and depths a mother will go to protect that child, and what is the definition of motherhood: genetics or love.
Probably just because motherhood is what I can relate to in this stage of my life. I met my agent when I was twelve weeks pregnant with my daughter, and at that point I had 25,000 words written on The Outcast. I knew I had a narrow window of time in which to craft the story before her birth, so I just sat down and wrote up to eight hours on the weekdays. I signed a two-book deal with my publisher when my daughter was twelve weeks old, so I immediately starting working on the first draft of The Midwife. Both stories revolve around motherhood and the extent a mother will go to protect her child.
3. You wrote The Outcast before your daughter was born. You wrote The Midwife as a mother (and now you’re pregnant with your second child). How do you think your writing and/or writing process has changed since motherhood?
Well, the most notable difference is that I can’t write for eight hours a day like I did before my daughter was born. Over the past twenty-seven months, she has trained me to write during her naptimes and whenever there’s a spare moment. It wasn’t always easy in the beginning, because her sleep schedule was sporadic for the first ten months, but that was when my husband, mother-in-law, or sister-in-law would come over and watch her so I could write at a coffee shop or even just on the front porch.
I am not as nervous about juggling writing and a newborn after our second child’s birth in September, because I now know what to expect. Still, it will probably be difficult fitting writing time in for a while, but I doubt I will mind when I am kissing all of those sweet little fingers and toes!
Beyond the process change, though, I know that motherhood has expanded my heart in ways I never imagined. Placing myself in the midwife, Rhoda Mummau’s shoes, envisioning being separated from my child with no way of getting her back, was very emotionally taxing—and yet I feel that I could not have written the story with much credibility if I had not become a mother beforehand.
I just turned in the first installment in a series that revolves around the Anabaptist (Mennonite/Amish) belief of Pacifism, or non-resistance. This means that no one will take up arms to defend themselves, even if this means giving up their lives. However, when a cataclysmic event takes the 21st century back to the Stone Age, and the foundation of civilization crumbles, the Old Order Mennonite community of Mt. Hebron in Montana must come face to face with their corporate beliefs and decide if those beliefs of non-resistance are their personal beliefs because they are just or because they have never come up against anything which caused them to resist them.
5. What is your favorite part about being a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer from the time I was seven or eight years old, so getting to work from home and be with my daughter is truly a dream come true. Also, though I love being with my daughter, I know that if I didn’t have this daily creative outlet and goal, I would have a difficult time remaining content at home. Plus, I just love bringing stories to life—seeing the characters take on dimensions I never imagined for them when I first drew their outline in my mind. Readers then identifying with these characters—and saying that these stories actually change their lives—touches me to an incredible extent. I am so grateful for my job, for it is more than just a job or a creative outlet, it is my lifeline.
Are you ready to read The Midwife? By entering this Rafflecopter giveaway, you can win a copy of Jolina’s latest novel (or The Outcast), a $25 Starbucks gift card, and an authentic Amish wall hanging. Simply enter this Rafflecopter giveaway and all those awesome treats can be yours!
Other Posts You May Like:
- Welcome Jolina Petersheim, Author of “The Outcast”
- What I’m Reading: The Island of Doves
- Erika Robuck’s New Novel Shines Light on Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
- Susan Meissner Tells the Backstory of “A Fall of Marigolds”
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Midwife to review for this blog post. All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.