I am still interviewing my characters for my novel Day Care as a way if developing them. Strangely, the interviewer, Susan Ainsworth is becoming a character herself. Some writers have everything worked out in advance. Me? I am constantly surprised by events in my novels.
Kayla said, “I know you want to interview me. How about now in the kitchen with a cup of tea?”
I’m a coffee drinker, but I take what is offered rather than create any dissonance no matter how tiny. And with the snow outside the window, it seemed to fit the ambiance of the day. Better than the Skype interview we had originally talked about.
Ashley was using the time Kayla was there to work later than usual. Another win-win, giving Kayla extra time with Maud. Both women had told me this separately.
Me: You’re from Dallas?
KW: Yes. My father worked in a bank. My mother was, is a nurse. They’re divorced.
Me: How old were you?
KW: 13. My mother is a devout Catholic. My father a lapsed one. He remarried.
Me: Do you like your stepmother?
KW: She wrote the Ugly Stepmother Manual.
Me: (I wanted more detail, but since our time was limited before Ashley got home, I decided to save it for another time.) Do you mind telling me how you got pregnant? (I learned long ago to get permission for painful questions.)
KW:Stupidity. I was raised in the no-sex-before marriage, be like the Virgin Mary school. And then I fell in love with my chem professor. He wasn’t married. And he didn’t want to be.
Me: Why didn’t you get an abortion?
KW:I thought about it, but I couldn’t.
Me: Where were you when this happened.
KW: My junior year at BU, Boston University. I had a scholarship.
Me: Did you tell your parents? (Kayla gives me a long, long look.)
KW: My stepmother hates me and would turn my father against me. My mother might have disowned me.
Me: Do you know this for certain or . . .
KW: My mother recommended a friend do that to her daughter when she ended up pregnant and single.
Me: And it wouldn’t have been different for her own daughter. Think how Dick Cheney became much more tolerant toward gays when he discovered his daughter was a lesbian.
KW: You don’t know my mother.
Me: (I was afraid if I continued on that line of questioning, I’d lose the rapport we seemed to be building.) Did you think about keeping the baby?
KW: Oh yes. But I know I didn’t have the money to raise a child and continue in school. I wanted to be a doctor. I think I changed my mind every five minutes on what to do.
Me: What sent you to Ashley’s firm?
KW:A friend whose sister had dealt with the firm. The first appointment was more of a crying fest. She had her mom take her next appointment and gave me all the time I needed.
Me: And . . .
KW: I told her that if there was any way we could find a family that might let me be part of the baby’s life. And Ashley said it might be hard and suggested I read everything I could open adoptions.
Me: And did you. (Kayla nods vigorsly.) So, you went the adoption route.
KW: Yes, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Neither was Ashley because she had never done this before.
Me: Did you think of changing to someone more experienced.
KW: It turns out we did, but not for the reasons you might think. Ashley wanted Maud but ethically she couldn’t do it herself. She found a friend that could.
Me: How did you feel?
KW: Relieved, sad, happy sometimes within minutes of each other.
Me: How has it worked out?
KW: Sometimes I feel I am in one of those nincompoop Hollywood movies where everything ends happily. Of course, Maud is only four and . . .
The front door opens. I hear Ashley call, “Anyone home? I brought Chinese food.”
There’s so much more I want to ask her. Like she says, it seems like a nincompoop movie but right now I will eat my egg rolls and observe how everyone is acting.