Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Camilla Grudova writes for 'those moments of magical ecstasy'

The author of The Doll's Alphabet answers eight questions from eight fellow authors.
Camilla Grudova is the author of the short story collection The Doll's Alphabet. (United Agents)

Camilla Grudova is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut short story collection The Doll's Alphabet is a dark, yet naive, body of work dripping with eccentricity and weirdness.

Below, Grudova takes on the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A and answers eight questions from eight of her fellow authors.     

1. Jalal Barzanji asks, "What is the purpose of writing and what changes does your writing bring to your life?"

The purpose of writing to me are those moments of magical ecstasy, when you think you've written a good simile, preserved or invented a good detail, made something connect, when you feel like you are having a conversation with dead writers, when you feel like you are on an adventure, putting a puzzle together. What it brings is constant delightful change in your inner world, to move from one idea to the next, following your mental whims, constructing something then moving on. I don't think writing makes me a better or brighter or kinder person, perhaps just a more introverted, distracted, crabby and slovenly one, but I love it all the same.

2. Adam Haslett asks, "From which other art or discipline have you drawn the most aesthetic inspiration?"

From the visual arts, architecture and cinema. I studied history of art and architecture. I am a very visual thinker. At the moment I am researching a particular era, so everything from that era — the art, the literature, the music, the architecture, the wallpaper, furniture design, fashion, science, even recipes — has given me aesthetic inspiration.

3. Danielle Younge-Ullman asks, "What do you do when you're feeling creatively exhausted, to regenerate?"

I go for walks, really long, foot-bleeding walks, and read of course. One has to fill one's head with more words like food. I continually go back to T.S. Eliot's complete poems and plays, and I find literature from ancient Greece and Rome always refreshing, like drinking cold water from a very old well or eating a bowl of ripe fruit. Looking at things, whether in museums or just trees or wandering down aisles at the grocery store or looking at dolls on I think it's important for a writer to constantly consume and observe things.

4. Eliza Robertson asks, "What music do you associate with your work?"

Tchaikovsky, Josephine Baker and all organ music.

5. Durga Chew-Bose asks, "If you could have any view just outside the room where you write, what would it be?" 


6. Pasha Malla asks, "Which would be preferable: a life of relative contentment and comfort and having your books die alongside you or being miserable and destitute and having your books read long after you are dead?"

I don't like to think about the future, it's too bleak on a personal and worldly scale. At the moment I'm in between living situations, my small library and all my notebooks are in boxes and suitcases in various places. Being able to read and write without one's problems and anxieties charging in is the height of contentment and comfort, to feel like you are making good work, to read good work.

7. Ausma Zehanat Khan asks, "At what point in your career do you believe you will have accomplished what you set out to do as a writer? How will you know?"

I'm not set out to do anything as a writer besides seek the magic and ecstasy of literature, which is infinite.

8. Raziel Reid asks, "If it were revealed that the inspiration to write was bestowed upon mere mortals by the angel Lucifer, would you forsake him?"

No, I would laugh and sigh and say as Laura does in the novel Lolly Willowes, "O Satan! Why do you encourage me to talk when you know all my thoughts?" and he would reply, as he does in the book, "I encourage you to talk, not that I may know all your thoughts, but that you may."