The Next Chapter

Lauren B. Davis explores addiction with novel The Grimoire of Kensington Market

The Montreal-born writer discusses how she tackled real-life themes via fairy tales to shape her fiction.
Lauren B. Davis is the author The Grimoire of Kensington Market. (CBC/Wolsak & Wynn)

This interview originally aired on Dec. 3, 2018.

Montreal-born writer Lauren B. Davis is the author of novels such as Against a Darkening Sky and Our Daily Bread. Her most recent book is the novel The Grimoire of Kensington Market. Through the lens of a fairy tale, Davis tells the story of a city in the grip of an addiction crisis due to powerful drug which has decimated lives and broken down the social fabric.

The disease of perception

"The Grimoire of Kensington Market is inspired by The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. That book has this fantastic device of a mirror, which makes everything beautiful look ugly and everything ugly look beautiful.

"I was thinking about addiction when I wrote this book. We often call addiction a disease of perception. What better metaphor for addiction than this idea of not being able to tell what is beautiful and what is ugly?"

Her real-life inspiration

"I had been working on a memoir about the deaths-by-suicide of my two brothers. But I couldn't write it as a memoir, it was too dark for me. It would be visiting a place I didn't want to go for an extended period of time.

"With The Snow Queen and with finding that metaphor, I was able — within the structure of the fairytale — to create not only a story about addiction, but also a narrative."

Lauren B. Davis's comments have been edited for length and clarity.