Rian: First off, I loved “Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor”. What made you decide to write a book about your experiences as an egg donor?
Julia: Thanks. Being that the business of egg donors is growing so quickly, it’s important that women are thoroughly informed about all aspects of donating your eggs and get a sense of how easy it can be to get caught up in all the money one gets compensated. It’s probably even easier these days as the standard compensation in NY now lies around 8,000 dollars – very different from when I began in 1996 and made 3,500 dolllars… No government agency or private association oversees the who, what, when, and where; or tracks health effects for donors. But I don’t just want to inform readers with this book, I also want to entertain them and make them laugh here and there. You catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.
Rian: Has writing always been a passion of yours?
Julia: Yes, I started writing in early grade school and I published a gothic horror story in the Swedish equivalent of “Seventeen” in my teens. I also wrote a soap opera for Swedish Radio ten years ago.
Rian: Do you plan any kind of continuation or spin-off of “Confessions…”? I’m curious to see what you’ve been up to all this time.
Julia: Yes, it’s called the Sammie Club and is twice as long (as Serial Egg Donor). It’s a novel set in LA about three women obsessed with a talk-show host called Sammie. They start a club (movement) to change the world, but things don’t go as planned. One of the club members will become an egg donor… I’ve also written a book about the Vikings in Sweden that will be available at some point. Think of it as The Godfather in combination with The Gladiator – with a big scoop of drama, passion, and romance (actually, that last part goes for The Sammie Club, too…)!
I’d also like to point out that Serial Egg Donor has been optioned to become a NYC musical scheduled to open either late summer of 2005 or that fall.
Rian: Did you find it easy or difficult to write this book, and why?
Julia: I would say that 50% of the time it was quite hard to write this book. The reasons are twofold: 1. I didn’t like to have to re-live what it felt like being so incredible depressed, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to recreate it and then the story wouldn’t be honest and real. 2. It was hard to be objective about myself – so the book went through lots and lots of rewrites and critiques from both friends and agents. But it was also lots of fun to write it.
Rian: Based on your own experiences, would you recommend women to donate their eggs, or not?
Julia: I would have to say that I don’t recommend it. It’s not worth the money. Personally, I don’t think any amount is worth gambling with your health, even if the chances of a stroke, inner bleedings, or cancer aren’t huge. If you still decide to do it, be careful and make sure it’s a reputable doctor and agency you deal with.
I think the best solution for all parties involved is to use the British current system: in England, it’s now illegal for women to sell their eggs. They have instead a process called ‘egg-sharing’ in which women who are already undergoing the process for themselves are asked if they would like to donate to others. There’s no discrimination in this system. No couples are creating a ‘designer baby’. This system reflects the altruism of egg donating, rather than donating for money.
Rian: What do you think about the chick lit genre?
Julia: I really like chicklit; however, a lot of it tends to be a bit too “soft” for me, like it’s afraid of offending people. I’d like to see more chicklit books with serious social messages, an edge; I think I have heard enough about dating (or maybe I haven’t, come to think about it, as I’m still single…:). And it’s become a bit formulized, which I’m not a big fan of. For example, take the Shopaholic series: the first one was great; it’s actually my favorite chicklit book. So I couldn’t wait to read the next one. But then it was like the author was so happy to have made her first book such a hit (which by no means is an easy feat!!) that she didn’t dare taking chances and/or let the main character develop in her sequels. Or maybe it was her publisher that told her to use the same formula, I don’t know. Same thing with Marian Keys. But hey, they’re both still going strong so enough people must disagree with me… My favorite chicklit writer is Jennifer Weiner; her books have depth and I love her use of language. I also really like Lynda Curnyn.
Rian: I see that “Confessions…” is a self-published book. What is the self-publishing process like? Is it as difficult as it’s reputed to be?
Julia: A pain in the butt… But it’s worth it in the long run. Depending how serious you are about it, it can be a 24/7 job with few breaks. My main reason for doing it is because I get to retain complete creative and editorial control. Unless you’re famous and/or have good contacts – or simply is incredibly lucky, it’s pretty much impossible to call your own shots as an unknown writer. However, I also really like the idea of indie publishing, which it really is what I’m doing. The publishing industry is getting way too corporate.
Rian: What, if anything, can you say you learned about your years of donating eggs? (Good and/or bad.)
Julia: It has made me a more compassionate person. I also firmly believe that the creation of a business of a genuinely kind gesture can only lead to corruption, which is another message I’m trying to get across with my book.
Rian: What kind of advice would you give someone that asked you how to go about self-publishing one of their own books?
Julia: If you don’t have a rocksolid belief in your book, don’t self-publish because it’s so discouraging. But if you do, please, go right ahead. It has so many rewards. Also, maybe it’s good to have written for while, have other people read your stuff, and keep improving it, before you decide to self-publish. And it might be a good idea to shop around the book just to see what agents have to say about it; it sure helped me with feedback for Serial Egg Donor. Personally, I wouldn’t self-publish a book that doesn’t have a built-in hook, as well as a good story; it’s too hard to get publicity. I hesitate to give too much advice because after all, I have only been a self-publisher for less than a year.
A book that I found very useful is “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing”. Also, I’m a member of a chat room for self-publishers online that I found very, very helpful – firstname.lastname@example.org.