On World Down Syndrome Day Portia Clark speaks with Edmonton author Theresa Shea. Her book, The Unfinished Child tells the story of three women faced with difficult moral choices around motherhood.
What I have enjoyed about social media is “meeting” people I might not have met otherwise. I’ve had readers from the Down syndrome community contact me, and that’s been incredibly rewarding. I honestly feel like I’ve made some new friendships that will be lasting ones. It’s a wonderful thing to be contacted by readers. In all honesty, it has encouraged me to keep writing.
They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you tryping to get across ?
That we are way stronger than we think we are. By and large, people do what they have to do when they have to do it.If asked in advance if they would be strong enough to handle adversity, most people would balk. Are any of us strong enough to handle the tragedies that will eventually come our way ? And are we meant to know in advance what we will be given ? I don’ t know.
I am fairly confident that I would have loved this book even if I didn’t have a child of my own with Down syndrome, because it’s not really about Down syndrome. It’s about family and suffering and compassion and culture and love and why we make the choices we make.
I think that fiction allows readers to enter the story on an emotional level rather than on a purely cerebral one. The reader knows going in that the author is not limited to presenting only the 'facts.' In many ways, I think that fiction creates an arena in which readers are more likely to sympathize than judge the characters because they so often get inside the characters’ thoughts and have real insights into why they make the decisions they do. If readers care about the characters, they become emotionally invested in their actions; they root for them and want them to make decisions that will improve their lives.
Every once in a while a book comes along that impacts me on an extraordinary level, and I want to encourage everyone I know to read it, and I want to talk about it, because it makes me think and feel so deeply. The Unfinished Child is one such book. I wrote about it here and here, and for months now, ever since this book was first brought to my attention, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the author, Theresa Shea, and correspond with her through email. She’s a mom, a wife, a teacher, a gifted writer, and a pretty cool chick. She agreed to allow me to interview her to allow us some insight into her writing of The Unfinished Child.
The changes in human reproduction in the past fifty years have been vast. While it’s unclear what the next fifty years will bring, I believe it’s important that we have conversations about the kind of world we want to live in and the kind of people we want inhabiting that world.
Ultimately, with the book I wanted to start a conversation. Life is risky; bringing children into the world is risky. Technology ... allows us to have more say, to have more control. Is this positive? Is this negative? It concerns me. Are we engineering children in the right way?