How I came to write Every Now and Then I Have Another Child
Every Now and Then I Have Another Child was published in the middle of Lockdown. A strange time to launch a book, with no means to launch it into the world. However, sometimes the quietest babies grow into the noisiest ones.
I began this book soon after my previous book, Taking My Mother to the Opera was published. I had the most extraordinary dream and woke up at the right moment to get it all down as a poem and name it Every Now and Then I Have Another Child. Even though I tell my students not to write about dreams as they are usually of interest only to yourself, I nevertheless got caught up in the characters of the dream and wanted to follow them. They certainly took me on an exciting journey. I think you’re toying with the reader, Vanda Symon said in a radio interview. Well maybe, but the characters were toying with me. I had no idea where we would end up, but I was having so much fun, I just ignored all doubts.
It’s a complex book to talk about, as it’s all in poetry form but adopts some fictional elements including plot, dialogue, characters and a chapter structure. The main narrator is Joanna, a single woman with grown-up sons, one of whom lives in London, the other who lives in the North Island. She’s a creative writing teacher as I wanted to explore some of the aspects of teaching creative writing to adults. So far, so normal but then she finds a baby in a hotel room and takes it home. The baby requires no feeding or changing of nappies, but she occasionally takes over the narration. Another character who inserts herself into the story is Anna, a doppelgänger version of Joanna. She is stalking Joanna but is she dangerous? There are other characters, including the Boy on the Wall, and a missing mother.
It was great fun to write, so I hope it is great fun to read.