Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Deborah Ellis on what she would be if she wasn't a writer

The author of Sit and The Breadwinner series takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A and answers eight questions from eight fellow authors.
Sit is a collection of nine stories for children by award-winning writer Deborah Ellis. ( Books)

In Sit, Deborah Ellis tells the stories of nine children facing adult-sized challenges. From Jafar, a child labourer in Indonesia, to Sue, who is waiting on a supervised visit with her father, the characters in this collection of short fiction illuminate the struggles of children around the world.

In the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A, the author of the acclaimed Breadwinner series, now a film and graphic novel, answers eight questions from eight fellow writers.

1. Lawrence Hill asks, "If you could start your life all over again and writing were not an option, what work would you most love to do?"

I'd be a paramedic or a carpenter or a funeral director — something useful.

2. Emma Donoghue asks, "What quality or tic in your writing, or flaw or dearth in your works as a whole, makes you blush?"

I'm a poor speller and use too many commas, and I sometimes pontificate instead of just write — fortunately, my editor doesn't let me get away with it.

3. Sigal Samuel asks, "Do you feel like being a writer absolves you from worldly responsibilities like attending political protests? Do you believe that when you're writing, that is you doing your political work, so you don't have to do the out-on- the-street kind? Or do you do both?"

Of course being a writer does not absolve me from anything. I'm still obligated to do what I can to make things better.

4. Michael Christie asks, "Was there a book you actually wanted to live inside as a child?"

I wanted to live in any book that took place in New York City and would let me wander around as I wanted to, even as a kid. That and My Side of the Mountain.

5. Matti Friedman asks, "What's the most beautiful language other than English?"

The most beautiful language is every language spoken in kindness, and any language brought back from extinction.

6. Adam Haslett asks, "Is the solitude of writing more a pleasure or a prison for you?"

The solitude of writing is a pleasure.

7. Eden Robinson asks, "What was the most unexpected inspiration you've ever had?"

Doing research for one book brought me to a paragraph that spoke of a group of monks that entertained people during the Black Death. They called themselves the Company of Fools — I dropped the book I was working on and wrote The Company of Fools instead.

8. Saleema Nawaz asks, "What is your favourite part of the writing and publishing process?"

Favourite parts of being a writer — the play of ideas, working out the problems, learning new things, holding the finished product.


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