Illustration by Mouni Feddag
"Hi Ksenia! I wanted to say that I've recently read 2 of your books, Rosehead and Irkadura. They were both so beautiful and I'll definitely be reading all the rest of your books! But I wanted to ask, you said that it was very hard writing Irkadura and you felt so sad while writing it. So why did you carry on even when the book was such a struggle and you didn't enjoy yourself?"
Here is my answer, darling.
In order to get at that nagging pain that's been gnawing on your insides, you have to look for it, find it, drag it out into the light (and it will scream and kick at you doing it), see it for what it is and then finally let it go. Writing books does it for me. It's not easy and it would be easier to simply forget about it and shove it deep down, but the problem is, instead of spending all of my energy on doing what I want, a part of me would be keeping that ugly thing restrained deep inside me. And so if I didn't write it out, I'd be walking through life half-alive, and that would've been a real nightmare. And I actually did do that, before I started writing.
Writing Irkadura was so painful, I cried every day for the 6 months that it took me to finish it. I'm not exaggerating. I really did. I would wake up and get my coffee and sit down and for about 1-2 hours I would cry. It was torture. And yet because I knew what writing Siren Suicides did for me, how it helped me pull out and reprocess my suicidal thoughts and understand where they came from and let them go, I kept on writing Irkadura even when I didn't want to anymore. I almost quit writing it twice. I didn't think I could go on. It was too close to my life and I wanted to forget it so badly, wanted to have it all go away. Except, of course, it didn't. And it's still there, even now, but it doesn't have its grip on me anymore. I cried it out, I wrote it out, and I understood it had no control over me, it was simply sitting in my head. It was in the past. It wasn't real. And so I felt better and happier.
Same with Rosehead. Only it was based on one of my mother's nightmarish stories and on my own fears and wishes as a little girl, and so I turned my fears into whimsy, and in doing so I made myself laugh at them. They were so ridiculous, so pathetic! And so they lost their grip on me as well. Not only that, they helped me a wonderful book that I find everyone who reads falls in love with. What better reason could there be than to turn your little ugly thing into something beautiful that people love? If it takes lots of crying and hard work, so be it. It's worth it.