Interviewee: Elizabeth James (Lizzie), author – Interviewer: Gerard Swan, Chair to Quest
Gerard: Hi Lizzie and welcome to Quest. I have to say that I was absolutely delighted to be offered the opportunity to have an advanced read of your new book ‘The Turkey Baster Dairies’ in preparation for this interview, which coincides with its forthcoming launch: could you tell us a little about it?
Lizzie: Hello Gerard and thank you for inviting me. The Turkey Baster Diaries is a humorous, poignant and empowering autobiography of a British female couple’s tumultuous quest for parenthood; it is a book for anyone who has ever thought about having children.
Gerard: I’d definitely agree with the adjectives you use to describe it. I see it had an endorsement by author, journalist and previous Chair to Quest Mark Dowd. Mark, who wrote ‘Queer and Catholic’ commented that he found the book “funny, profound, full of human honesty”. So, without giving the story away could you say a little more?
Lizzie: It’s an empowering story about relationships, self-realisation and overcoming the odds. It all started when I met my partner, she had always wanted children, and, as a slightly shy, gay Catholic woman I hadn’t considered it. The book explores our journey with all its twists and tensions.
Gerard: You mention being Catholic, yet in The Turkey Baster Diaries you are not very complimentary to the Catholic hierarchy.
Lizzie: I currently have mixed feelings about the Church hierarchy. I’ve had some lovely experiences of inclusive ministry and there are increasing examples of that across the world; however a change in official Vatican teaching on homosexuality is long overdue. I’m not perfect but neither am I ‘intrinsically disordered’ with a tendency ‘toward an intrinsic moral evil’. Those words have done so much damage, you only have the read the recent Wijngaards Institute (here) and Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (here) reports to get a snapshot of just how much.
Gerard: You are of course referring to the horrendous contents of the 1986 Vatican Letter to Catholic bishops on the pastoral care of homosexual persons. Quest has said quite a bit about that over time. What is your perspective on the current Pope?
Lizzie: Being Pope is a tremendously challenging role, trying to lead and listen to all of those competing views. Overall, I think Pope Francis is doing a great job, his warmth towards LGBT+ people is incredibly welcome. Though, I was disappointed with the recent declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about Priests not blessing same-sex couples. However, there has been a definite silver lining; the global Catholic backlash illustrating support for same-sex couples has been very uplifting. I think we have to resist discrimination wherever we find it; that is also one of the key messages of the book.
Gerard: Absolutely. Getting back to the book, the press release says that The Turkey Baster Diaries also contain useful guidance for those on their own parenting journey. Could you give us a few examples?
Lizzie: Yes of course; so my hope is that book is useful as well as being a gripping read. If you are thinking about having children talk through all your options and what they might entail emotionally, legally, and financially. Do research and take time to consider the merits and challenges of each option together with service providers before deciding on a plan of action. Useful starting places in the UK include the NHS (here), the UK 2010 Equality Act (here), and Stonewall (here). Prepare questions in advance of appointments, take a pen and paper in with you and make notes. If you are unhappy with or uncertain about a response, get clarification and/or a second opinion. Be clear on your rights and don’t accept poor or discriminatory treatment.
Gerard: That’s really helpful to know. So, how can people get hold of the Turkey Baster Diaries and what are your hopes for it?
Lizzie: So it’s available globally from 1st June as a paperback or an E-book (here). As a dyslexic person I’m very proud to have written it, and I think it’s important that LGBT+ lives and experiences take their place in the rich tapestry of history. My hope is that people enjoy reading it, and that it can be of use to those on their own parenting quest. Thank-you.
Gerard: Thanks for your time today and for the contribution that this much needed book makes. I certainly enjoyed reading it. There was lots of laughter, a few tears and at times it felt like I couldn’t put it down, I just had to read the next page, then the next, and so on. I highly recommend it. Thanks too for a copy of the press release which we’ll append to the website posting. Quest wishes you well with the book and keep writing, you have a great style and some important things to say.
“There are some things you shouldn’t have to discuss with your parents; lesbian conception is one of them”
The Turkey Baster Diaries: the true story of a female couple’s quest for parenthood, by Elizabeth James
The Turkey Baster Diaries is a humorous, poignant and empowering autobiography of a British female couple’s tumultuous quest for parenthood. Think Bridget Jones’s Diary meets the Unmumsy Mum before they became parents.
Introverted Lizzie and international traveller Anna meet; fall in love and marry. Anna had always wanted children; Lizzie was receptive to the idea, but it hadn’t been on her horizon. The couple make baby plans, but circumstances change and tension builds.
- Will Lizzie and Anna be fairly treated?
- Will they become parents?
- Will it cost them their relationship?
- What they try isn’t for the faint hearted!
This book is for anyone who has ever thought about having children and outlines the trials and tribulations people go through in order to fulfil a dream of parenthood.
“In a literary world with so little attention to LGBT parenting, this tale is funny, profound and full of human honesty. You will laugh and shed a tear. Recommended wholeheartedly.” Mark Dowd, author Queer and Catholic
Notes for Editors:
Interview opportunities: Author, Elizabeth James (Chester, NW England) is available for interview to discuss her book, fertility, LGBT+ fertility rights, and the emotional roller-coaster that people, regardless of sexuality, go through in order to achieve their dream of parenthood.
Release Date: The Turkey Baster Diaries is being released globally on Amazon on Tuesday 1 June, Elizabeth is available for interviews from Monday 24 May.
Contact details: To discuss interview opportunities further, Elizabeth James can be contacted directly at
The Turkey Baster Diaries is available to pre-order on Amazon. The book will launch globally on Tuesday 1 June 2021. E-book £4.99 Paperback £6.99