Linda Svendsen takes the Magic 8

The author of the political satire Sussex Drive on cyber-pet funerals, CBC cuts and getting naughty with the Governor-General.

What is the Magic 8?


1. Greg Hollingshead asks, “Do you ever imagine yourself one day writing a book that will make it unnecessary—or impossible—to write another? Is this thought hopeful or fearful?”
I can’t imagine writing a book that would make it unnecessary—or impossible—to write another; and the prospect of not writing another would cause huge anxiety because then I’d have to write a script. And ask for millions to produce it. And executives would still want the book.      

2. Sharon Butala asks, “What is the main question that you wish somebody would ask you, although nobody ever has?”
I’d love to be asked my novel’s astrological sign. (Gemini, with Leo rising.)

3. Drew Hayden Taylor asks, “Which comes first, the title or the book?”
The idea of the book comes first. Then the title! Without a title, it’s as if we’re (me and Work) are naked and homeless. Even if we only set up in shorts and a tee-shirt at a working title campground, we need a bit of canvas over our heads. Working titles for Sussex Drive:  Prorogue and Confidence.  

4. Charlotte Gill asks, “What does your afterlife look like?”
a) Sunny with a chance of serenity  
b) Celestial grand-babysitting  
c) Kvetching with my husband about cuts to the CBC  
d) All of the above.  
Correct answer: d  

5. Sharon Butala asks, “Do you know how the heck we separate the writer-self from the writer's life, that is, the writing from the writer's person?”
Humans are walking dichotomies—how do we ever truly know the writer’s life experience? Even memoirs are suspect, no? I borrow from 12 Step Programs: Take what you like and leave the rest.   

6. Drew Hayden Taylor asks, “Other than writing novels, what other art form (i.e. plays, movies, music, visual art) do you wish you possessed or had a better grasp of?”
I’d give my left brain to be able to write and illustrate a picture book. Shaun Tan, the Ahlbergs, Sara O’Leary and Julie Morstad’s When You Were Small—brilliant! Magdalena Sikorska says “...many contemporary picturebooks are the last bastions of visual culture in the medieval sense of coded messages.”

7. Andrew Pyper asks, “Have you ever veered away from something in your work—explicit sex, say, or bloody violence, or a character uttering offensive thoughts—because it might soil the book for certain sensitive readers? If so, have you regretted it?”
I haven’t veered away from anything in my work—humans do the darndest things. That said, when I was writing my imaginary Governor-General’s reminiscence of sex with her viceregal consort, I was really aware that I hadn’t ever read about a fictional Canadian Governor-General doing anything at all like that.    

8. Timothy Taylor asks, “Are video games good for children?”
Take a peek at Joel Bakan’s Childhood Under Siege. As a mom who’s made funeral arrangements—who you gonna call?—for uber-mourned cyber pets, I’m all for games that leave a child’s amygdala virtually untouched.


Linda Svendsen's latest book is the novel Sussex Drive. Her linked collection, Marine Life, was published in Canada, the United States and Germany and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Saturday Night, O. Henry Prize Stories, Best Canadian Stories and The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Svendsen’s TV writing credits include adaptations of The Diviners and At the End of the Day: The Sue Rodriguez Story, and she co-produced and co-wrote the miniseries Human Cargo, which garnered seven Gemini Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award. Svendsen is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. 

Photo credit: Michael O'Shea

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set count down final date: 05/02/2014
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