28 Apr 2013

Author Interview: Tomica Scavina

A collector of kaleidoscopes and lousy relationships, Dahlia Kasper leaves her possessive alcoholic mother and moves from New York to Barcelona. In search of lost bits of her childhood, she starts living in an apartment where her father was murdered when she was four. As soon as she enters the apartment, strange things begin to happen.

Her favorite kaleidoscope becomes a gateway to another dimension where she encounters a ghost of a famous physicist from the 19th century who tries to persuade her that reality is like a moth-eaten sweater - full of holes. He needs her to help him plug up these holes and save the world from vanishing, while the only thing Dahlia really wants to save is her sanity.

This is just a part of Dahlia's problems. An elderly cello-playing neighbor turns her emotional world upside down and her longing for lost home takes her further than she ever imagined she could go. To collect all the scattered kaleidoscope-bits of her life together, Dahlia needs to go through an intense inner transformation that takes courage and a sharp sense of humor.

1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
At this moment, it would be Scarlett Thomas, the author of fantastic novels The End of Mr. Y and Our Tragic Universe. There is a certain surreal note in her writing, which I find very inspiring. She's fascinated by quantum physics and I'm fascinated by human psyche. Through our characters, we both question the nature of this reality and I believe that we share a similar love for big and weird ideas. Who knows what fictional reality would emerge from interweaving our two perspectives.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?

I write in my study room in the mornings, usually from 7 till 10. This is the only time I can write, because later on, real people's stories drag my attention away from my fictional stories. I work as a psychotherapist and conduct a writing therapy program, which is really fulfilling, but also demanding, so whenever I can, I run over to a nearby café Laganini (this means Easily). In Laganini I often think about the plot and characters or write answers to an interview (as I am doing now) into my yellow-green notebook. In the evening, I usually watch a movie with my boyfriend or hang out with friends.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
When I write two thirds of a novel and realize that I have to start leading the story towards an end, I face some kind of an emotional wall. I feel disconnected from the inner world of my heroine and need some time to collect myself. I know her world will become alive again in the mind of a reader, but the process of creation will end, and when I see it from my heroine's perspective, it's like facing the end of the world. The borders will be set, the creative movement will stop. For me, this is disturbing.

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
I was nine years old and I wanted to share a secret with my father. I wrote it on a piece of paper and gave it to him. He didn't really get it, but the paper did. The paper had fully accepted what I wrote - without distortion, without judgement, without advice. I think this was the seed of my love towards writing, which later evolved into writing diaries, poetry and prose.

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The idea for Kaleidoscope World was "kaleidoscopic" from the very beginning. First I had the pieces: kaleidoscope as a magical object, cellist with a missing finger and a half-crazy heroine. These pictures/ideas were somehow magnetic to me, and when I put them together, they created the main idea: kaleidoscope as a tunnel to another dimension. Which dimension is real - this one or that one? I won't explain the cellist's role, because I don't want to spoil the reading. What I want to point out is that the plot somehow created itself. I just had to shake up the kaleidoscope bits, and the whole picture was there. Once I had it, I dove into it and wrote Kaleidoscope World pretty smoothly in less then a year.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
(I would skip this question, because unfortunately I don't have time for reading! I was a big reader for years, but now - writing is priority).
7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Connect with your main character closely. Think about her often. Treat her as your imaginary friend. Don't just use her to tell the story that you want to tell. Let her tell you her story too.