Take one egg... In Everything Conceivable, Liza Mundy shows the bewildering new world of assisted reproduction.
You raise a dizzying array of issues, from whether fertility medicine should be regulated to children's rights. What would you like readers to take away from the book?
I hope people will be better informed about what couples using IVF and related technologies are coping with. And I do think more public discussion and communication around these issues would benefit our society in general as we try to figure out how to navigate the worlds that are opening up.
How were you able to keep an open mind while researching such ethically challenging and emotionally charged territories?
God bless newspaper training. Maintaining an objective viewpoint is what they drill into you at the Washington Post. It's how I was trained and it is, for better or worse, what I clung to while writing this.
Did you plan for your book to be such a comprehensive study of the impact of reproductive technology, or did it grow into that?
I knew I would be writing about family formation and reproductive choice, but I had no idea there would be so much science in the book. And I didn't envision being able to spend time in the lab where young scientists were being taught these techniques and reacting to them. That was a revelation and one of the fun parts of the reporting.
Despite the ethical quandaries you touch on, you infuse the book with so much understanding, even warmth.
I really liked the great majority of the people I interviewed. And I had nothing but empathy for people who wanted to have a family and were going through a lot to achieve that. I have children myself, and every day I thought I was reporting about how much they mean to me.
What did you find that surprised you the most?
What people are willing to go through in order to conceive a child. I really had no idea, either in terms of brokering third-party reproduction or brokering arrangements with people who are going to be contributing to the processes. And then, in terms of multiple births, what women go through physically.
You mention that writing the book was deeply pleasurable. What made it so?
Being able to sit down with these families and to see the joy they took in their children, hanging out with three- and four-year-olds, as well as with scientists, which was in and of itself a great and unexpected pleasure.