Book Menage answers: Joanna Kavenna
Tuesday articles: Reviewing the reviewers

Book Menage: Joanna Kavenna's answers, part 2.

Today I have the rest of author Joanna Kavenna's emailed answers to some of our Book Menage questions.

Question: Did you keep notes during pregnancy and right after labor, or were you just able to dredge up the details of labor (which everyone seemed to concur were accurate) from memory?

Kavenna's answer: "I have always written diaries and copious notes, so I did have lots of writing about my own experiences of labour. However, it was very important to me that Brigid's labour wasn't the same as my experiences of labour.  I didn't think I'd be able to exercise any sort of editorial judgement if I was just writing up what happened to me. Also I felt it wasn't really fair on my children, to use the stories of their birth in my fiction, without asking them if they minded. So I created Brigid's labour from an amalgam of stories friends had told me, stories I had read. Inevitably, though, I drew on my own recollections of that relentless, escalating pain, and also on what I mentioned above, that dreamlike state, the sense that what you are doing in labour is both completely commonplace, billions of women have done it, and yet utterly bizarre at the same time. And how ordinary reality becomes dreamlike." 

Question: How do you pronounce your last name? Kuh-ven-na or like "Cavanaugh"?
Answer: "Your first guess is the right one - Kuh-venn-a. It's a Norwegian word, anglicised."
Our sincere thanks to Joanna Kavenna, author of the novels The Birth of Love and Inglorious, as well as the nonfiction title The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule.