Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Why Ami Sands Brodoff loves the Canadian winter

The author In Many Waters of answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Ami Sands Brodoff is the author of In Many Waters.

The world is witnessing the largest global refugee crisis since the Second World War. This migrant crisis is the focus of Ami Sands Brodoff's latest novel, In Many Waters. In the book, orphans Zoe and Cal are in Malta trying to uncover the mysteries surrounding their parents' deaths when Cal rescues the sole survivor of a capsized fishing boat that was carrying Libyan refugees.

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

1. 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?"

Robert Browning said that a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Let's amend that to include a woman's reach as well. I don't have a hard and fast end goal, except to stay inspired, creating human stories that open readers' horizons, for as long as I can. Writing helps me make sense of the world and I hope that process will continue, given that life is not eternal and we are not immortal.

2. Vivek Shraya asks, "What is your favourite writing snack?"

That's a very revealing and personal question!  To give me energy and deal with the frustrations of writing, I need a snack with lots of crackle and crunch. I love sweet and salty nuts. Maple pecans are my decadent favourite. My beverages of choice are a steady supply of fresh-ground coffee with steamed milk in the a.m. and sparkling water spiked with OJ — preferably with lots of ice — in the p.m.

3. Gail Anderson-Dargatz asks, "Who is your muse?"

My Brittany Spaniel puppy Xenophilius Quixote. Our daughter named him this mouthful because he loves strangers and is on a constant quest for an impossible dream: birds, birds, birds and a few squirrels.  Xeno keeps me company as I write and then nudges me out for long rambles, where I can think and dream and often come up with ideas for current and future projects.

4. Jo Walton asks, "What time of year is best for your creative productivity — summer or winter?"

Winter. Our six-month Canadian winter is perfect for immersing oneself in an enveloping project like a novel, swaddled in a big cozy sweater, (better yet, PJs). The palette of silvery greys, whites and the shrouded bones of trees outside the window both soothes and inspires. When I get cabin fever, I go out for a snowy walk. At night, a mug of cider with Calvados in front of a blazing fire warms and recharges.

5. Jane Urquhart asks, "Should more dogs be the protagonist in serious contemporary novels?"

No. André Alexis has been there, done that, brilliantly!

6. Vincent Lam asks, "For you — what does the 'ultimate literary event' look like?"

I would love to hear a few of my favourite contemporary writers' work read by professional actors, followed by a wine-saturated schmooze, where the authors chat about the stories behind their stories, set in a thriving indie bookstore. How about Vanessa Redgrave reading Alice Munro; Ralph Fiennes, Michael Ondaatje; Sarah Polley, Zsuzsi Gartner; Molly Parker, Elise Levine; Riz Ahmed, Rohinton Mistry; and Priyanka Chopra, Anita Rau Badami? Now that would be a night to remember!

7. Will Ferguson asks, "What is the dumbest and/or weirdest question you've ever been asked at a book signing or interview?"

Did X, Y or Z in your novel really happen to you? I dislike reductive connect-the-dots questions, straining to marry the fictional to autobiographical fact. There is something almost pornographic about it, or at least voyeuristic. This question punctures the power and alchemy of a novel or story, which needs to be alive on its own terms.

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

A mix of John Legend, from his album Darkness & Light; Ahmed Fakroun, the Libyan singer and songwriter from Benghazi with mandol and darbuka drum; and Klezmer music. I know! It's a mix alright. These multicultural sounds represent the tastes of the three primary characters in my novel, In Many Waters.