Q&A with Emanuela Barasch

Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Delivery. My post is written with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to the author for answering my questions!

Q&A with Kate at Bantam Bookworm – Emanuela Barasch Rubinstein

Have you always wanted to write?

I began writing as a teenager, but it was such an intense period that I stopped. I guess I couldn’t find the distant perspective a writer needs. The urge to write seemed to disappear only to surface again years later. I can say definitively, though, that over the years I’ve accumulated observations I now use in my books.

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

I’m a lecturer at a university; I teach literature and film studies. I often give courses about women in art. When I was planning to write a novel about pregnancy, I looked up artistic depictions of having a child. I was shocked – I hardly could find anything, certainly as compared with other life-defining events. What is it about giving birth that makes so many people look the other way? Why is it so scary? Delivery offers different answers, involving   deep fear, self-perception, and relationships. Perhaps most important is the inclusion of both men and women’s perspectives. Pregnancy and having a child are not “a women’s thing”.

What was your inspiration for Delivery?

I have three sons. For years, I felt that the attitude towards giving birth was distorted and unrealistic. I was terrified when I was pregnant. Both my mother and my friends promised that I’d “forget everything” once the baby was born. I gave birth three times – I remember each one very clearly! Let me say this: I love being a mother, it is a very positive and joyful part of my life. Still, the process of having a child is not easy. I see no reason why we can’t talk about it. I’m tired of hearing that it’s all to do with hormonal changes; it’s not. It is a meaningful event affecting one’s body, yes—but also and equally one’s soul and mind.

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

I need to have a concrete idea of the character’s appearance. This doesn’t mean I know exactly what they look like, but that they have certain features I see very clearly: hair, eyes, posture, a specific gesture or tic. The mental side is different. A character is born in a certain way and sometimes develops in an unexpected direction. I like protagonists who change, undergo a transformation. Strangely, sometimes a character evolves in a certain way against my will. Protagonists develop an independent identity throughout the writing process.  

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I am definitely a plotter. I always have a very clear idea of what the book is about. All this means is that I have the outlines, and I have to add shape, color, movement. I believe that to be a good writer, one has to have a certain flexibility. If you begin with a specific idea in mind and don’t allow for any alteration, you will end up with a very rigid, perhaps even boring, novel. The freedom of writing is phrasing your ideas uncompromisingly and letting them take their own shape. It seems contradictory, but it’s not.

How did you research Delivery? Did you enjoy it?

I read books that I knew included descriptions of giving birth. Most had sentences like “As the pain was severe, she rushed to the hospital” and “She returned home with a beautiful baby in her lap”. I kept wondering why the descriptions of what happened between the two were so scarce. The more I read, the more annoyed I became. I came to understand that a very significant human experience was largely glossed over. I offer possible explanations for this, but the main thing is that it needs to change. Giving birth, with all its implications, is not a secret event. Any feeling or response is acceptable, and there should be no need to hide or judge. And, if you don’t want to be a mother, that’s fine, too.

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?

That’s a tough one. I enjoy different writers and genres at different times of the year (in winter I tend to go with the classics; spring is the time for experimental works; summer calls for plot-driven novels and thrillers; fall is right for moving stories on love and disappointment). I can say that the books I read as a child truly influenced me. I still compare my life to fairy tales (why is Cinderella still relevant today?), and I tend to categorize females into the types presented in Little Women. Men resembling Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are still appealing, I dream about traveling around the world (well, not in eighty days), and more and more and more.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

I would certainly invite Kamala Harris. I love her individualistic spirit and how she remains true to herself despite her high position. She seems shrewd, yet soft; ambitious, but not afraid to smile whole-heartedly. Jane Austen would join us; I’d love to have her view of contemporary feminism. I suspect she might have surprising opinions, but I may be wrong. Why not also invite Simone de Beauvoir? That would be a fine ladies’ evening!

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

I got stuck in a lift last year. It’s dark and scary. You don’t care who’s there, you just can’t wait to get out. 

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Delivery?

Emma Watson! She’s perfect for Delivery. Daphne is a smart, good-spirited, good-looking young woman. Everything is going well in her life: she is a successful social worker, married, wants a child. But, unexpectedly, once she gets pregnant, everything changes. An old hidden fear surfaces, changing her life and the lives of others. Emma would play her perfectly.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a frustrated gardener. I live in a flat, and there isn’t enough room for all my plants on the porch, the windowsills, the corners of the room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the entrance hall, outside the front door.

What is next for you?

I’m working on a new book, a collection of four novellas. It’s called The Compass Rose.  Every novella is linked to the work of one Renaissance artist (Giotto, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael). I try to provide a slightly different way of looking at the world. 

Favourites:

Book?  Dubliners by James Joyce

Film?   Network

Band/Singer? Lately, I like LP

TV show? Doc Martin

Colour? Gray

Place? Florence

Biscuit? I’m always on a diet…

***

Delivery is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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