|Julia Leigh, photo by Noah Sheldon|
Julia Leigh is the author of the new book Avalanche: A Love Story. It details her experiences with IVF treatment and the fertility industry. She also has written the novels The Hunter and Disquiet. Leigh is also a filmmaker, and she is based in Sydney, Australia.
Q: You write, "I started writing [Avalanche] very soon after I made the decision to stop treatment because I wanted to capture my strong feelings before they were blanketed by time." How difficult was it to write about what you went through, especially soon after?
A: It wasn't as difficult as you might think. I had a clear path to follow – actual events – so in some respects it was easy. I’d already lost so much I didn’t care about losing face: that allowed me an enormous freedom.
But yes, in other ways, it was hard. Writing in the first person was difficult because part of my desire to have a child was a longing to “decentre.”
Q: In the book, you discuss what your doctors told you about the statistics relating to various IVF-related procedures. What do you feel you learned about the IVF process in the course of your own experiences?
A: I learnt a great deal – too much to summarise neatly. But to give an example about the malleability of statistics: at one stage, when I was 43 and transferring a Day 5 blastocyst, I asked my doctor what my chances were of being pregnant. She replied that a Day 5 blastocyst has about a 40 percent chance.
At that moment I thought – 40 percent, how wonderful. Only later did I discover that this 40 percent was a figure for women of all ages – and in fact the odds for a woman of 43 were much, much lower.
Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: I love the sound of the word: avalanche. And to me an avalanche is brought about by pressure over time.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Next up I'm hoping to write and direct another film.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb