Not every woman who rides the fertility treatment roller coaster winds up like Octomom! Who will find friends, family, and fertility?
Three women-s lives are intricately intertwined, as Amelia Schwartz and Summer Curtis struggle with the complex dynamics of intrafamily embryo adoption, and Chandy Markum strives to make her patients- dreams a reality.
After more than a decade, of mourning her parents- deaths, anal-retentive Amelia Schwartz decides to take control of her life, pursuing single motherhood via embryo adoption. While her fertility doctor, Chandy, is preoccupied with the destruction of the cosmopolitan Cape Town of her youth and her first love in apartheid-torn South Africa, believing all is lost, her niece, a young, married, overachieving attorney Summer Curtis, juggles zealous career ambitions, demanding bosses, and friction with her husband over family and fertility issues. They must confront the painful reality that, no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, they have not yet mastered control over their beginnings and endings. Thrown all into this is one story that can make or break. Are you up to it?
Lisa Lipkind Leibow is an author of smart women’s fiction. Her novel Double Out and Back (Red Rose Publishing) takes the reader on the roller-coaster ride of infertility treatments as seen through the eyes of three women. Originally working as a lawyer, Lisa decided to trade the billable hour lifestyle for fiction writing. Winner of Pitchapalooza D.C. and an Honorable Mention in John Gardiner Award for Best Character Description, Lisa’s work has also appeared in Pisgah Review, Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. She lives and writes in Northern Virginia with her husband, three sons, two clumber spaniels, and two red-eared sliders. You can learn more about Lisa and her writing at http://www.llleibow.com/.
Our Cozy correspondent, Tink, sat down with Lisa earlier this week for an interview. Here's 20 Questions with Lisa Lipkind Leibow! Take it away, Tink....
Tink: Are you the first one on the dance floor or not so much?
Lisa: Not the first – but not the last, either!
Tink: Do you prefer to spend the night at the theatre or at a bike show?
Lisa: Definitely the theater. I have season tickets to the Kennedy Center and to Shakespeare Theater. I love story telling on the stage as much as story telling on the page.
Tink: Do you give relationship advice or think it’s a bad idea?
Lisa: I never give unsolicited advice. However, if a friend asks for help I’m there!
Tink: Describe the ideal hero – rough and tumble highlander, titled gentleman of the ton, modern-day bad boy, or supernatural anti-hero?
Lisa: This question reminds me of two things: 1. An essay I once wrote about Mammy Yokem from Li’l Abner being my hero. I touted her as the first real women’s libber for taking charge of her life. 2. The father/daughter dance at my wedding. I can still hear the song lyrics “Did you ever know you were my hero…” from Wind Beneath My Wings. My Dad is my hero, for sure!
Tink: Would you rather tell someone you love them or show it?
Lisa: I think the two go hand in hand. However, I never miss a chance to say, “I love you” to those I care about.
Tink: Travel to the past or into the future?
Lisa: I have to choose? I love historical fiction but I’m a dreamer. … Hmmm… Perhaps the ability to time travel in either direction is my ideal.
Tink: Bubble bath or hot shower?
Lisa: Bubble Bath.
Tink: Flats or high heels?
Lisa: High heels – I’m actually the perfect weight for someone two inches taller than me. Heels help!
Tink: Flowers or chocolate?
Lisa: Chocolate… It’s why I need to wear heels.
Tink: G-rated or unrated?
Lisa: Somewhere in between. I’m an everything in moderation kind of woman.
Tink: Alpha or beta?
Lisa: In real life? Beta. In my fictive dream? Alpha.
Tink: Would you make the first move or wait it out?
Lisa: Make the first move.
Tink: Favorite love song?
Lisa: I must be in a sarcastic mood, because as soon as I read that question the song, "I'm Not Going to Write You a Love Song" by Sara Bareilles popped into my head. But then I got serious and started singing "Your Body's a Wonderland" by John Maher – I love that song.
Tink: For Valentine’s would you rather go out or stay in?
Lisa: Go out.
Tink: Karaoke: yes or no?
Lisa: Karaoke wannabe. Unfortunately, the last time I tried karaoke was at the Silken Sands Writers Conference. I requested a song and when I got up there a completely different song started playing – "Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was CRAZY! I felt a Ashley Simpson on SNL! – so embarrassing).
Tink: Describe your most romantic moment.
Lisa: After I graduated from college, I was backpacking through Europe with my cousin. When she had an anxiety attack, I put her on a plane home and was left all alone. My boyfriend surprised me by joining my in Paris, where I shifted my planned “youth hostel” trip to a “Bed & Breakfast” trip. – We had such a wonderful time, I married that guy!
Tink: Boxers, briefs…or kilts?
Lisa: Boxer-briefs on my guy – but I don’t wear any of those types myself!
Tink: What is your idea of a dream date?
Lisa: A dream date with my husband is a gourmet dinner at a country inn, then an overnight with breakfast in the morning.
Tink: Valentine’s Day watch: sappy love story, romantic comedy or forgo all of the above and go with the action flick?
Lisa: Romantic Comedy. I love to laugh.
Tink: And, most importantly – do you like your man clean shaven or with a five o’clock shadow?
Lisa: Clean Shaven.
Thank you, Lisa, for answering all of Tink's instrusive questions! And now, readers, for you, an excerpt from Double Out and Back....
"I'm ready!" Summer sprinted from the bathroom, where she had just rinsed her mouth with her favorite cinnamon-flavored mouthwash and inserted her diaphragm. It was probably overkill, since she also wore a birth control patch, but she refused to take any chances.
Summer sped through the condo, running through rooms all lined up in a row, from the tiny antiquated bathroom through the eat-in kitchen with her grandmother's old Formica table and vinyl chairs, then past Jeremy's hideous bachelor sofa that dominated the living room. Some people called the condo a railroad flat while others called it shotgun-style. She liked the former description better; it sounded less violent. Although, she supposed, she would have a greater chance of dodging a bullet racing through her home than she would of escaping a train barreling through it.
Summer dashed past the entrance of the small study alcove off the living room and into the bedroom where Jeremy waited. She pounced on the finest mattress and linens – her and Jeremy's sole splurge.
Eagerly, she wrapped her arms and legs around Jeremy. She expected him to return her playfulness, but tonight he pulled away from their tight embrace and held her at arm's length, his hands on her shoulders. His hair, so black it looked blue, always captivated Summer. His eyes, equally alluring in their darkness, were solemn.
"We have to talk," he said.
"Now? What is it?" she asked.
Summer untangled herself from him and pulled up the patchwork quilt. Jeremy swallowed hard, but still he said nothing.
Summer said, "Tell me. It can't be that bad." She combed his dark bangs with her fingers.
He cleared his throat.
"Jeremy, tell me. You're making me nervous," she said.
"Okay," he said, "here goes." He cleared his throat again, and then said, "Summer, I've never told you that," his speech accelerated, "I'm adopted."
"What?" she asked.
"I'm adopted," he repeated. "That's why I want us to have a baby so badly."
She released a chuckle, feeling a great sense of relief. "That's your big secret? Oh, Jeremy, you had me scared out of my mind." She moved closer to him. "I was thinking, some horrible disease, or you used to be a woman," she said and then laughed, adding, "I guess I wonder, though, why you didn't tell me before."
Jeremy's face looked pale and tense. His normally sonorous voice became tinny. "I remember when I was five years old. Two neighbors from down the street, both mothers of big families. Between them they had nine children. They gossiped on the playground at my school while I was bouncing up and down on a seesaw with my friend. Maybe they didn't know I was there, but I heard them clear as anything. They were talking about a local couple planning to adopt a baby and one said, 'I would rather be childless than to adopt someone else's problem.' Problem! Can you believe it? I was only five, but I knew I was adopted. From that day on, I vowed never to tell anyone. It's none of their business."
Summer pressed her hand against Jeremy's shoulder, guiding him to rest on the bed again. He didn't budge. She kissed him and asked, "Adopted?"
"Yes," he confirmed.
"So you're telling me now? As foreplay?" she asked, laughing aloud.
Then he relaxed into a smile and said, "I know it may not seem like such a big deal, but it is to me. I really want to have a baby so I can know someone who is part of me. I want my children to feel certain they're wanted. Plus, I've never had the experience of knowing someone biologically related to me. You need to be sure, too." He brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. "I have no idea what's in my genes. Hell, someday our kids could look like…like the jolly green giant – nothing like either one of us. You would wonder, right?" Jeremy retreated.
"That doesn't matter to me." Summer scooted closer to him. She contemplated how seriously Jeremy took this. How could he worry about this when having a child was years away? Summer felt positive she would be concerned about giving birth to a healthy baby when the time came, and not how much the baby looked like her or Jeremy.
Jeremy's confession brought them closer together. He shared with her what he believed to be his deepest, most intimate secret. Jeremy smiled, revealing clean, white teeth. The top two front teeth overlapped just enough to make him look real, not like an airbrushed GQ type. Summer's freckled nose rested against Jeremy's nose. When she looked into his eyes from that vantage point, she spied his heavy, neat eyebrows. His chin felt smooth against her chin.
Jeremy smiled. "The thought of you having my baby just thrills me. We could have a son or daughter with your gorgeous eyes, silky hair, and my golf swing; or with your long legs, my black hair and flair for logic. It's phenomenal no matter how I imagine it. Plus, whoever our baby is, that little boy or girl will be the first person biologically related to me I'll ever meet. It'll be great." He looked unsure for a moment. "Don't you think?"
Tune in tomorrow, Cozies, for more 20 Questions fun, excerpts, and giveaways!