Interview with Dr. Chandy Markum from Double Out and Back by Lisa Lipkind Leibow
The Plot: I’m here at the office of Dr. Chandy Markum. She’s a reproductive endocrinologist. For those of you who don’t know, that’s a fertility doctor. Thanks for agreeing to see me today, Doc.
Chandy: Oh, there are cameras. I thought you were here for a consultation. You’re not a patient?
The Plot: No, I’m here to interview you for a feature on The Plot. You’re one of the major characters in Lisa Lipkind Leibow’s bestselling novel Double Out and Back.
Chandy: Is that what she titled our story? Double Out and Back. I love it. It’s a type of roller coaster – one that goes around the same route twice. I’m a huge fan of coasters. You see that picture on the wall behind you? That’s the first stand-up coaster in the east. That drop is over eighty feet long. And because you ride it standing, your body is nearly parallel to the ground while you fall. It‘s spectacular!
The Plot: You rode that thing?
Chandy: Ten times in one night!
The Plot: Amazingly brave.
Chandy: Not brave, really. Some people like yoga or jogging to relieve stress. Others turn to booze and drugs. I find my escape at amusement parks. It’s not so strange, really. Is it?
The Plot: Out of the ordinary, but not strange, no. You know, since you were expecting me to be a patient, I was wondering, what kinds of questions do patients normally ask when they come in for their first consultation.
Chandy: As you might imagine, most couples or women who come into my office want to know if I can help them have a baby. That’s the reason they come to see me. But in line with that, they’re concerned about side effects of medications, about who will be performing the procedures, what are the risks of giving birth to higher-order multiples—
The Plot: I hate to interrupt. But I just love your voice. Your accent, where are you from?
Chandy: Cape Town, South Africa, born and raised.
The Plot: Fascinating. When did you move to the U.S.?
Chandy: I came here just after I graduated from Medical School. I did my residency and a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology. Then I joined this practice back in ‘eighty-five. It’s not really as simple as that, though. Actually, I never dreamed of leaving South Africa as a child. I really don’t want to go into all of that here. Lisa showed what happened to me so well in the novel, you can just read it to find out.
The Plot: Come on, you could tell us a little about what happened to you during the implementation of Apartheid.
Chandy: I say, again. Read the book. Would you like a brownie?
The Plot: I’m not falling for your distraction…what? Look at those gooey, chocolate…the aroma is…May I?
Chandy: Of course, it’s sort of a tradition in this office.
The Plot: (with a mouthful of fudgy-goodness) These are amazing! Did you make them?
Chandy: It’s an old family recipe – my grandmother’s. She’s the reason I chose this field. She was a midwife.
The Plot: In South Africa?
Chandy: Sure, she grew up in Eastern Europe, but like many Jews in the early 1900s, she escaped and settled in Cape Town.
The Plot: Interesting. Have to say, though she was not only midwife, but great baker, too. I can’t get over how good these taste. May I have another?
Chandy: Help yourself.
The Plot: While I’m enjoying this, why do you think the author chose to tell the story of Summer and Amelia, instead of any of your other patients?
Chandy: That’s an interesting question. For once the character gets to put words into the author’s mouth. Hmm… I’d have to say, that their story is a reminder that no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, we still must rely on family and friends to thrive. It’s funny. I’m a doctor who treats infertile couples and women. I’m involved with these stories on a clinical level every day. I’m supposed to remain detached and objective. But the experiences of Summer and Amelia – a niece donating frozen embryos to her aunt, and everything that happened leading up to and after – even moved me. I’m glad Lisa chose to bring them to life. In fact, now that I think about the other patients’ tales the author considered, it is virtually inconceivable that she would have chosen any other but these two.
The Plot: Pun intended?
Chandy: Of course, pun intended. I hate to rush you, but I have a waiting room full of patients and I have to get back to work. If you need more information, you can read Lisa’s book.
The Plot: Busy doctor. I understand. Thanks for sharing your time with me for this special feature on The Plot. And yes, I’ll take a look at Double Out and Back. It’s a Red Rose Publishing Bestselling Novel.