Emma was kind enough to take a moment to answer our author interview questions ahead of her in-store launch with Unity Books – Tuesday 9th October 2018, 6-7:30pm.
“I originally trained as a journalist, and worked as a freelance writer and a columnist for The Sunday Star-Times and The Dominion. I then began a decade of work in communications work for the public sector and NGOs.
In 2013 I gained a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) at Whitireia Polytechnic. I have also studied short fiction and science writing at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. In September 2018 my first book was published by Awa Press: The Heart of Jesús Valentino.
I currently live in the liberal enclave of West End, Brisbane with my partner Roy Costilla, a Peruvian statistician working in the field of genetics, and our 2-year-old son Amaru. He works with diggers in sandpits and is refining his see-saw technique.”
About the book
Emma Gilkison is thrilled to be pregnant. She and her partner Roy have been trying for a year and finally it’s happened. But during a routine twelve-week ultrasound she notices something strange: it looks as though their baby has a marble rolling on his chest. In fact, the baby’s heart is growing outside his body – an extremely rare and usually fatal condition called ectopia cordis.
The couple immediately begin researching the possibilities for surgery. When this is finally ruled out Emma is almost twenty weeks pregnant. They now face a heartbreaking decision. Should they end the pregnancy, or continue in the knowledge their baby will die?
From different cultures – Emma raised in New Zealand and Roy in Peru – they walk an emotional minefield as they struggle to agree on a way forward. Seeking help and spiritual counsel from people of many different views and beliefs, they find hope, meaning and consolation in unexpected places.
The Heart of Jesús Valentino is an extraordinary story about a young couple forced to go beyond their everyday experience and confront head-on issues of life and death. Powerful, honest and beautifully written, it moves all who read it, and is creating ripples in the medical world.
“A deeply moving story of love and medical science. What burns brightest is the author’s maternal love and dogged determination to do what’s best for her baby.” – Rebecca Priestley, winner, Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize, 2016
“I was utterly absorbed by this book. Emma Gilkison’s story shows us how we might look directly at the unthinkable and find hope there.” – Ashleigh Young, winner, Windham-Campbell Prize, 2017
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?
I am reading Homing Instincts a collection of essays describing early motherhood on a Midwestern Farm by Sarah Menkedick. I bought the book after reading one of Sarah’s captivating essays on the website Vela: ‘In defense of the art of motherhood’.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?
Barbara Kingsolver, Janette Turner Hospital and Monica Ali. I love what I learn about people and relationship dynamics from these writers and all three use wonderful imagery. For me a good metaphor is akin to a spoonful of honey.
WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?
A big pile of kid’s books dominates my bedside table as well as the floor beneath it. I read to my toddler in our bed after his bath. One of his favourites is a book called Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! but Wynton Marsalis. Reading this is as close as I come to a live jazz session at the moment.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?
Like water for chocolate.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?
Honestly, the book I have re-read the most was one from my childhood: Anne of Green Gables. I guess I was hooked on the archetype Anne represented: a vulnerable heroine who faced adversity and used her intelligence, courage and heart to carve a good path.
WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?
Ashleigh Young, Hinemoana Baker and Bill Manhire. I can imagine thoughtful, illuminating conversation with these poets at my table. I know Ashleigh and Hinemoana and both are really lovely women. I don’t know Bill personally but you can feel his loveliness from a distance.
WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?
I would be going for something refined and exquisite. Setting myself this expectation would send me into a spin. I’d settle for something simple and French inspired.
HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?
We haven’t lived in Brisbane long enough to acquire a lot of books. The ones we have currently are stacked pell-mell on shelves in the spare-room. My Mum has done quite a cool thing with her books – they are organized by the colour of their spines. It’s not that easy to find a particular book, but the shelves are highly aesthetic.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?
‘We need to sit on the rim/of the well of darkness/and fish for fallen light/with patience’ – Pablo Neruda
A QUESTION FROM PREVIOUS AUTHOR INTERVIEWEE, EMILY WRITES:
“What is the book or essay you wish you’d written?”
There is an essay called The Dark Art of Description by Patricia Hampl that I really admire. I like writing that simultaneously tells a personal story and broaches bigger picture ideas. That zooming in from microcosm to macrocosm is something I wish I could do with Patricia Hampl’s fluidity.