Drawing on her own loss of a pregnancy, Kalyn Fogarty’s new novel, "What We Carry" (Alcove Press, $16.99), examines the devastating impact of a late-term miscarriage on Cassidy and Owen Morgan, whose separate grief and anger threatens to tear apart their marriage.
Speaking from her home in Oakdale, Fogarty considered the challenges and rewards of making fictional use of a personal tragedy, expressed gratitude for the support of her extended family on the South Shore, and bemoaned the recent closing of Book Revue in Huntington.
It must have been difficult to write about such a painful experience, even in a novel. How did you handle it?
I waited a while. I had the miscarriage in 2017, and then I had my first daughter almost a year later to the day. I began drafting the book in December 2018; I think having a little time and space and having my daughter gave me the room to put my thoughts in order. Although it’s personal, I didn’t want it to be autobiographical. The inciting incident is taken pretty closely from my own experience, but I’ve spoken to many women who have shared their experiences; I combined my story with a few of theirs, which definitely shaped the characters. I’m glad I waited; if I had written it right away, it might have been too dark.
I’m impressed that you began writing a novel two months after you had a baby! And you run a full-time business training horseback riders. How do you get it all done?
Having a close-knit family here in Long Island is really helpful. My husband is from Huntington, and his family all live in the village; there’s an area called the Hill, and his mom, grandma, brother are all there. We have our daughters in day care twice a week—my youngest just turned 1 and my older will be 3 on Halloween — and my in-laws watch them two or three times a week, which has been really helpful for my writing.
Strangely enough, it was when I had my first daughter that I started writing more seriously. I always loved writing, and when I was in college I started a series of young adult books about horseback riding that are sitting in a drawer somewhere, but in my 20s I was so focused on building my business that writing took a back seat. I don’t know if I started making more time for it, or I just happened to be up at all hours of the day!
In the novel, Cassidy is angry at Owen because she thinks he didn’t really want the baby; he feels she’s shutting him out and acts as though he hasn’t also lost their child. Why was it important to depict such raw emotions?
I wanted to be very honest, because anyone who’s been through a loss has felt many different emotions. Some people are angrier, some people feel guilt and sadness; I want to express that all those feelings are normal. I think if I hadn’t gone there a lot of people who had experienced loss would see through it pretty quickly. Readers, especially readers of women’s fiction, are usually quite intuitive and perceptive.
I did want to write a book that was ultimately hopeful, even though there’s not always happy endings to struggles with infertility and miscarriage. I hope that women who read it who are still struggling don’t feel I’m ignoring them, but as I was writing I felt that in the journey Cassidy was on, I wanted her to come full circle in terms of her family.
You obviously care about communicating with your readers. Given the ongoing pandemic, have you been able to do any in-person public events?
We had the book launch at The Book Revue a few weeks ago. It’s so sad that the store is closing; it’s an institution in Huntington. [The store closed last month.] I think I was one of the last authors able to do an event there, which was really special; that’s our Long Island independent bookstore. I did a Reading Room Book Club in Bryant Park, which was awesome, and [October] is Miscarriage Awareness Month, so I will be doing events related to that.