Thursday, December 13, 2012

Q&A with author Pamela Ferdinand

Pamela Ferdinand is the co-author, along with Carey Goldberg and Beth Jones, of Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood. The memoir tells the story of how three friends bonded as they considered single motherhood, and how their lives changed in the process.

Q: How did the three of you decide to write a book together, and how difficult was it to coordinate the writing among three authors?

A: We actually decided to write the book because every time we told our story, people said, “You have to write a book!” That got us thinking that maybe we should. We began meeting and writing the first few chapters, and an agent interested in the story gave us the impetus to finish it.

It was easy to coordinate the writing because we are journalists and essentially wrote our own stories. We just made sure the chapters made sense together and worked chronologically -- we left out a lot of exact dates because it would get too confusing for the reader -- and we helped each other recollect events and conversations. The three of us set deadlines and went away for a couple of weekends so we could write, read and edit over an extended period, away from the daily demands of jobs and families. That helped a lot.

Q: Do you feel that having Donor 8282 [the sperm donor they all considered using] in your lives helped free all three of you to move on and find what you were looking for?

A: More than that, it was truly the decision to become single mothers -- however that would happen -- that empowered us to take control of our own lives and stop waiting for romance to have children. It also opened us to possibilities we may not have imagined. As it turned out, we each made our way to conventional love and family in an unconventional way. 

The other significant thing for us about choosing and accepting Donor 8282 is that it was a shared experience. Our friendship was a critical piece of having the strength and emotional support we needed to make the decision to have kids on our own. Watching Carey and Beth inspired me to do it, even though I never gave up on finding love and romance down the line. Relationships between women are often depicted in books and movies as catty and competitive, but our story is one of true female friendship and encouragement. 

Q: Did you have qualms about sharing such personal details about your life? How did your family members feel about it, and what reaction do you think your daughters will have to the book when they're older?

A: I am a private person, which may seem hard to believe given that I’ve co-written such a personal memoir, and I have not been comfortable in the “limelight,” such as it’s been. But I love the craft and process of writing and editing, and some women facing the same decisions and challenges have told me the story meant a lot to them so that has made it worth it. 

I am fortunate to have family members, friends, and a partner, Mark, who encouraged me to tell my story honestly and who accepted what I wrote about them. I hope my daughters understand that, more than anything, our book is a love letter to them -- how much we wanted them and how much they mean to us now. I also hope it helps them talk to me openly about their experiences as women in the 21st century who may not get everything they want in the order they want, but who believe that they can pursue what truly makes them happy and who understand the value of friendship and community in their lives.

Q: You describe yourself as a romantic who believes in "soul mates." What advice do you have for other people in the same situation?

A: I have no advice!! Believe me, I couldn’t have written a book if I had made good decisions in my life that led me to find romance and become a mother before it was almost too late. I don’t have regrets -- well, maybe a few -- but I certainly don’t see myself as someone who has the answers. Our book shows how different the paths to love and motherhood can be, despite our similarities. My hope is that other women at a similar stage of life can take time to figure out what they desire and try to achieve it before it’s too late, whether it’s children or something else. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m teaching journalism part-time and working on a children’s book with an illustrator friend.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: That I feel lucky to have had the experience of writing a book with friends and that, as crazy and heartbreaking and joyful as our stories sound, they are all true. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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