Caroline Grant, who has a book coming out called The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How we Learned to Eat, invited me to participate in a blog round robin for writers with new books coming out this year.
Caroline is a San Francisco-based writer, mother of two, and the editor-in-chief of Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined. She’s also the co-editor of Mama, PhD, an anthology about women in academia for which I wrote a story (“Recovering Academic”). Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life is a great gift for young academics, especially women, hoping to start a family.
Here’s how this works. I answer the ten questions Caroline sent me about my book (this seems weird, I’m interviewing myself. Sort of like masturbating, um, I mean talking to myself out loud … with other people listening.) Then I tag five other writers whose work I admire with books coming out soon, and they do their thing (eh hem) next week.
So here goes, an interview with myself. Drum roll …
1. What’s the title of your book?
The hardcover was called The Business of Baby. My publisher (Scribner) changed the title for the paperback edition. It’s now called Your Baby, Your Way.
2. What’s the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Fast Food Nation meets the baby industry: Your Baby, Your Way is an investigation of how for-profit medicine and corporate greed influence the way women gestate, birth, and care for their babies.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Investigative journalism and health and wellness. It’s a non-fiction book that directly impacts our understanding of best medical practices.
4. Where did the idea come from for Your Baby, Your Way?
Three years ago when I told a mom friend I was traveling with my cloth-diapered infant to a writers’ conference, she thought I was absolutely crazy. At the time I was a contributing editor at Mothering magazine and I was researching a 5,000-word article Peggy O’Mara had asked me to write about diapers. We’d used cloth diapers with all our kids because they were so much less expensive and the diapers were so cute. It was also so much better for the environment to use cloth diapers. But I always believed you had to travel with disposables.
As I started investigating the marketing tactics used by plastic diaper companies, I also started questioning my own assumptions. Why couldn’t I travel with cloth diapers? Was it really any harder than using disposables? I also found out that the major proponent of delayed potty training in America, a much love and well trusted pediatrician, has long had an undisclosed conflict of interest as a paid spokesperson for Pampers.
As pregnant women and new parents, we’re eager to make changes in our lives. But often the information we get is from people with something they want us to buy. Product placement starts in the hospital when our babies are just a few hours old and are washed with name brand soap, despite a wealth of science that shows that new babies should not be washed at all. Babies are given branded pacifiers donated for “free” to the hospitals, even though science shows that early pacifier use interferes with breastfeeding, and swaddled in brand name disposable diapers in order to create consumers. Ever wonder why the diapers are branded? It’s a way to create brand loyalty.
In April 2010 I was ranting about all of this to my literary agent. Even though she doesn’t have children of her own, she was fascinated.
“You have to write about this,” my agent told me. “People need to know! That’s your next book.”
5. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It’s taken me about two and a half years to write this book, but I’ve been researching and writing about some of the science and other topics in it—like infant health and vaccines—for closer to ten years.
6. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wrote Your Baby, Your Way to make pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of a baby’s life safer and more enjoyable for every mom and dad.
7. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
On October 13, 2010 the book proposal went to auction. It was bought by Scribner, an outstanding publisher and an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Scribner recently published Andrew Solomon’s masterpiece about children who are different from their parents, Far From the Tree. They also published two of my favorite memoirs, Angela’s Ashes and The Glass Castle. I feel honored to be working with them.
8. What other works would you compare Your Baby, Your Way to within your genre?
Suzanne Arms’s Immaculate Deception; Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death; Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation; Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed.
9. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Everyone always said my mother looked like Meryl Strep.
“There’s Woody Allen,” someone screamed when my father went running around the track at Boston College.
But neither my dad or mom is in the book beyond the acknowledgments.
If the book were turned into a movie, it would probably be a hard-hitting documentary like Food, Inc., The Business of Being Born, or Consuming Kids. So all the characters (90 percent of the people I interviewed are identified by their real first and last names) would be played by themselves.
10. What else about your book, Your Baby, Your Way, might pique the reader’s interest?
At the end of every chapter is a real-life story:
? A conservative young mom explains how she changed her mind about breastfeeding;
??A trained sonogram technician discusses why she believes pregnant women should avoid ultrasounds;
?⚕️ A first-time mom shares her decision to leave the obstetric practice and have a homebirth;
?️ A military dad of three gives the poop on diapering;
⚠️ A doctor argues the case against obstetrics.
Tag, you’re it: Alisa Bowman (yes, she has a new book coming out. She’s amazing);
Christine Gross-Loh has a book coming out on May 2nd that compares parenting practices around the globe. It’s called Parenting Without Borders and it’s a fascinating, educational, and eye-opening read;
Theo Nestor, author of How to Sleep Alone in a King-Sized Bed, has a book coming out about the craft of non-fiction called Writing is My Drink;
Investigative journalist Karen Coates has a book coming out called This Way More Better: Stories and Photos from Asia’s Back Roads, a collection of travel essays spanning a dozen years & 11 countries in Asia;
and Lauren Oliver, one of my favorite young adult writers, has the third book in her trilogy (the first is Delirium), Requiem, coming out on March 5th. If you haven’t read Delirium and Pandemonium, you’re in for a treat. Read more about the trilogy here.
Published: January 29, 2013
Updated: January 18, 2020