Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Jowita Bydlowska on avoiding books with long descriptions of water

The author of Guy and Drunk Mom answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of Guy. (Russell Smith)

In her debut novel, Guy, Jowita Bydlowska explores the twisted inner workings of a repulsive womanizer. Like her breakout memoir Drunk Mom, Bydlowska infuses Guy with dark humour and an unflinching eye.

Below, Jowita Bydlowska answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Cordelia Strube asks, "What keeps you writing?"

I don't really know how to do anything else and since I'm a bit of a compulsive person I just keep at it. Also, my laptop battery keeps me writing.

2. Lazer Lederhendler asks, "If an aspiring writer asked your advice because she has to choose between taking a degree in creative writing and a full-time job that involves, say, a lot of travelling, what would you say to her?"

I would say forget taking a degree in creative writing and just write. Is the "travelling" part supposed to imply it's a demanding job? If yes, then I'd suggest she sets up her day hour to hour so that she has an hour or two to write either before work or after. If the job is not demanding, then write on the job. (I have. I know. Sorry, Brent!) And stop aspiring and start doing.

3. George Bowering asks, "Whose books have you imitated during your writing life?"

I can't say I've imitated anyone's books on purpose but it seems, subconsciously, I was channeling Bret Easton Ellis when writing Guy (one reviewer said). I gravitate toward books that are written in (often deceptively) simple, declaratory sentences and that are darkly funny and don't contain a single very long description of a body of water.

4. Shani Mootoo asks, "What was the best surprise you had in the process of writing your latest published book?"

I don't remember any surprises in the process. (I mean, there were surprises but none of them could be classified as "best.")

5. Drew Hayden Taylor asks, "Which comes first, the title or the book?!"

It takes me forever to come up with book titles. The manuscript might be done and even going through editing and I'm still struggling with finding the right title.

My first book, a memoir, is called Drunk Mom and my second book, a novel, is called Guy. I came up with both titles (first one totally tongue-in-cheek but my editor loved it). Those titles sound like either the beginning of a joke ("A drunk mom and a guy walk into a bar...") or a porn category.

My third book should round it all up. I am not giving away the title because I don't have a publisher yet, but think: cosplay.

6. Shyam Selvadurai asks, "What is the hardest thing about being a writer?"

Probably having to live in your head most of the time. Also, all the stuff that isn't actual writing — so networking and small talk and pitching agents and publishers and talking about marketing strategies and web presence and oh my god I want to die just writing about it.

7. Joy Fielding asks, "How do you go about creating believable characters?"

Margaret Atwood probably said this or it's probably attributed to her, as are all brilliant sayings about writing that we have in Canada, but it's conjuring your character to the point where you know what she has in her bedside table even if there's nothing in the book about the said table.

8. Tracey Lindberg asks, "Your latest novel is made into a movie. Who is on the soundtrack?"

Nicole Moudaber, Richie Hawtin, Nick Curly, Saschienne, Zebra Katz, Sam Paganini and Maya Jane Coles.