Meet Camilla Grudova, author of the Women’s Prize 2023 longlisted novel Children of Paradise. A book The Guardian has called “a magnificently spiky commentary on the detrimental nature of work hierarchies and job instability.”

The premise of this book is powerful and unique, so what was the inspiration behind the novel? We grabbed a quick five minutes with each of the authors behind the longlisted books to ask that question and more…

Describe your novel in one sentence as if you were telling a friend.

Life in a decaying cinema.

What inspired you to write Children of Paradise?

Working as an usher at a cinema and all the dark and interesting things I saw. Also, my love of film. The book is named after the film Les Enfants du Paradis by Marcel Carne.

Are there any locations that have a special connection for you or your book?

All the old cinemas I saw movies in, including the not named one I worked in, and the film house in Edinburgh, which is now sadly shut down.

Children of Paradise

by Camilla Grudova

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Which part of the book was the most fun to write? Which was the most challenging?

I find gross things immensely fun to write, so all the terrible things found in the screens by ushers were really delicious to portray. The challenge was how to portray action and plot in a space where the main event is happening on screen, and the characters are in the dark? Elizabeth Bowen’s novel Death of the Heart has a great and devastating paragraph of a cinema scene and that helped me to do it.

Which of the characters from the book would you most like to spend a weekend away with and why?

Certainly not Andrew. Probably Otto because he would bring good snacks and have interesting chat.

What first inspired you to write?

My very imaginative mother Anna. We made tiny books together when I was little.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?

The most basic but most underrated: read as much as you can.