Author Kristen Tsetsi: Living Guiltfree & Childfree

No Children, No Guilt

Kristen Tsetsi, writing under her pseudonym Sylvia D. Lucas, is having a promotion for her childfree humor book No Children, No Guilt this week to celebrate it’s availability on Kindle. The great news is that the Kindle version is free today and tomorrow (Friday-Saturday, May 10-11, 2013) on Amazon and Amazon.co.uk. The book is also available in paperback format.

Kristen Tsetsi - Babies web cover jpg

Q & A

We had the chance to interview Kristen and this is what she had to say.

w{n}hab!: What’s your experience as a childfree woman, and why write about it to begin with?

K.T.: Not wanting children made me a two-time divorcee before I reached the age of 29, which was a learning series of years. Between the ages of 19 and 29, I was suffocating just a bit under the pressure of the expectation that I’d get pregnant at some point.

I’ve always been a writer (I’m currently a full-time journalist and part-time freelance writer), and when I started writing NC, NG in 2007, it was because I’d finally escaped that focus on my role as a reproductive unit (by divorce, and by marrying someone I knew would never expect me to have kids) and, though free of it, it was still very fresh in my memory. It seemed important to use whatever I’d learned or gone through to help others not have to go through the same thing (or to at least do it with more confidence, and more knowledge, than I had). Writing has always been the way I communicate best.

w{n}hab!:  Sylvia D. Lucas is a pseudonym. Are you ashamed of being childfree?

K.T.: I originally wrote childfree-related essays, and an early version of NC, NG, under my real name, but I was also trying to promote my fiction when it was time to release NC, NG. I kept reading that the “they” who decide such things about writing and publishing believed branding was important, so I created a childfree ‘brand’ name.

w{n}hab!: So, how did you choose your pseudonym?

K.T.: I wanted the name to have a literary reference (because I’m so in love with fiction and didn’t want to let it go entirely, even when “branding”), so it’s a combination of Sylvia Plath’s real name, her pseudonym (Victoria Lucas), and the D. is for Dorothy (Parker). I’m not obsessed with Plath, in case that’s the impression I’m giving. I happened to be reading her journals – a present from my husband – around the same time I was trying to pick a name, and the way she writes, even her private thoughts, really appealed to me. (I’ve also liked the name “Sylvia” since I first heard Dr. Hook’s “Sylvia’s Mother.”)

w{n}hab!: Is it a coincidence that the promotion for No Children, No Guilt is taking place on Mother’s Day weekend?

K.T.: It truly is. Or, it was originally. But once I realized it was happening on Mother’s Day weekend, I liked the idea a lot. Last year, I wrote a blog post promoting the idea of creating an official Non-Mother’s Day that would, in part, be a day women who chose a childfree life could celebrate their choice (a choice that isn’t always easy, considering the opposition some experience). What better way to celebrate than to say, “No, I don’t want children. No, I don’t feel guilty. Whee!”?

w{n}hab!: We certainly agree with celebrating well thought out choices! Next question – No Children, No Guilt is kind of short. Why?

K.T.: When I wrote it, there were key points I wanted to make. I didn’t want to fluff it up with words and words and words, or with material that I, as a reader, wouldn’t be interested in, just to make it longer.

I also wanted it to be a certain kind of book – just me talking to you, informally, honestly, and with humor. There are plenty of books available that contain interviews with childfree couples from around the world, that share research and demographics and statistical analyses…

That information plays an important role. And including it would have certainly padded my pages, but authors who are passionate about that kind of research have already done a much better job than I would have. I simply wanted to write something for the women who had perhaps already read the research and the interviews, and who just wanted someone who “got” them and could help them see the decision to not have children as the “so what?” that it is.

That said, I am considering expanding it when I have time. I’ve learned some more stuff.

w{n}hab!: What do you say when people say, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll die alone?”

K.T.: This has always struck me as a weird question, because it assumes two things: First, that a childfree person will have absolutely no one else if they don’t have children (no friends, no lover(s), no pets), or second, that having kids somehow guarantees you’ll have company as you take your final breaths.

But there are the many ways we can die where children are not likely to be present, even if we have a Duggar brood. (I hope it’s okay that I’m copying and pasting this from a recent blog post I wrote to address this very thing – and these are all actual ways people have died and continue to die, by the way):

In a car wreck, on a hike, in the shower, on a bike.
On an airplane, in a school, on the staircase, in a pool.
Choked on fishbone, stabbed in park, smooshed by bus wheels, death by shark.
 
House explosion, plastic bag, falling space junk, kicked by stag.
“Oopsie, poison!”, death by cop, too much laughing, fallen prop.
Struck by lighting, crashing train, fall from ladder, much cocaine.
 
While out jogging, roll off bed, burst blood vessel in your head.
Liquor poisoning, slip on ice, defective birth control device.
w{n}hab!: Great response! (Lance says) the ‘die alone’ question always cracks me up. The people asking it seem to live in some alternate universe I don’t recognize or maybe they’re time travelers from 1750 where they live with 3 generations of their extended family? How many people really die surrounded by their children vs. alone? How many die in a nursing home surrounded by strangers regardless of how many children they have? I digress. 🙂 Moving on …
No Children, No Guilt has been available since 2011. Why offer it for free now, this 10th and 11th of May, 2013?

K.T.: The release was quiet, so only a handful of people know it’s out there. I wanted to really introduce it, finally.

Also, I’ve been writing about childfree topics on my website (http://sylviadlucas.com) for a while, and I’ve noticed that the readership continues to rise, as does the number of people writing about being childfree. I think it’s because there are ever more women coming of age right now, entering their “childbearing” years, and realizing a) they might not want to be the bearers of children, and who are simultaneously becoming aware that b) even though children aren’t as expected today as they used to be, there’s still a pretty heavy emphasis on motherhood. And “b” makes the experience somewhat more frustrating than it was for women of my mother’s generation, I believe.

“Wait – so, this is a liberated era, I can do what I want, but there’s still this assumption that if what I want doesn’t include children, I’m selfish/immature/cold/self-centered/not a real woman/someone who wants to spend my life drunk on the beach. What?”

I think when the rules are black and white, they’re easier to process. “Woman: have child! Ooga!” is cut and dry, at least. It says, “There are roles, dammit!” But “Woman: have career if want, have child if want! (But seriously, have child. Only if want! But want.”) is murky. Messy.

What we end up thinking is, “Um, there’s no population deficit, right? And I don’t own a farm that needs little workers. Who are you to arbitrarily decide what I should do with the rest of my life?”

It’s infuriating.

Kristen Tsetsi - suburban camo

Childfree Feedback

Amy and I were lucky to never feel significant pressure from our families to reproduce but we know that’s not true for many people. Do you feel pressure from family or friends to have children? How have you dealt with it?

10 Responses to Author Kristen Tsetsi: Living Guiltfree & Childfree

  1. Planbsupply August 31, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Interesting idea being child free.I have 5 kids and people think I’m crazy. I just say “They are the only things I can take with me when we all leave this life, ill take as many as I can seduce my wife into making for me.” And I’m fine with working most of my life for them, even if I don’t see them most of the day because of that work. It’s worth it. There are small, rare but glorious parent paydays that make all the sacrifice of parenting worth it. And for those who decide to purposely remain child-free….there is a part of you that will never know sweeter sounds, never understand true sacrifice, and never develop a heart so full of love than what comes from another human being that you created and call your own. Haters can hate, but ONCE you choose to have a child…and then do…you will look back on this idea you write about, and shake your head and laugh at your silly selves. You will do WHATEVER you have to do for that little creature. And you will never regret it. (Comments and backlash…I await you. Actually, I’m tied up at the moment, got a two yr old that just puked on the pregnant wife, actually I don’t care about the backlash, its part of being a parent, don’t have much time to worry about what other people think, or feel guilty about everything, got to keep an eye on these critters, they break stuff all the time. 🙂

  2. Michelle May 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    I just downloaded “No Children No Guilt,” and added it to my TBR list. I appreciate you sharing your work with us and am happy to have found your site. More adults are choosing to remain childfree and I sincerely hope stereotyping us will begin to disappear.

  3. Emily May 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Thanks for the interview and promoting the free copy! It’s on my Kindle now, and I can’t wait to start reading.

    • Amy May 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      Happy reading, Emily!

  4. Tara May 10, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Thank you for doing this interview! It’s an interesting peek into her world of being childfree. Really sad that she had to go through two divorces before the age of 30 due to not wanting children. Most of the time men aren’t around for the better part of parenting anyway? I guess that’s a stereotype but it’s what I’ve witnessed in my 40+ years being around lots of families.

    I’ve added No Children No Guilt to my Kindle! Can’t wait to get to it!

    • Amy May 10, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks, Tara! Sadly, the stereotype seems to bear out — sociologists and others who study families have indeed found that in heterosexual marriages, women do the lion’s share of household and childrearing work.

      Glad you enjoyed the interview! Post and tell us what you think of the book when you’re finished!

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  2. Non-Mother’s Day Childfree FREEBIE for Kindle | "Anonymous" Was a Woman - May 10, 2013

    […] in what, by happy accident, turned out to be a celebration of non-Mother’s Day. Woo! Get the link for the freebie, and check out their brief interview with me, at the fantastic website We’re {not} Having a […]

  3. Non-Mother’s Day Childfree FREEBIE for Kindle | "Anonymous" Was a Woman - May 10, 2013

    […] No Children, No Guilt is free today and tomorrow for Kindle (US and UK) in what, by happy accident, turned out to be a celebration of non-Mother’s Day. Woo! Get the link for the freebie, and check out their brief interview with me, at the fantastic website We’re {not} Having a Baby. […]

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