I’ll be reading at Readings@Seskan!

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Love reading? Enjoy writing? Want to support local writers? Come down to Readings@Seskan this Saturday 🙂 The ever-supportive and wonderful Sharon Bakar invited me to read an excerpt from my unfinished short story collection. Thank you Sharon!

I’ve been meaning to attend for so long, and am so excited that I’m actually days away. (InshaAllah nothing cataclysmic happens from now until then, ahem)

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Update: Hanna Alkaf’s Q&A at Kino was wonderful. I enjoyed hearing her story about her own journey as a prolific reader, and how that shaped her writing. I really appreciated how honest she was about how much hard work writing is.

It was great to hear how supportive her editor (Zareen Jaffery) is in not italicising words in Malay and Chinese. Makes for a much more fluid and Malaysian story. She read her first chapter and I can’t wait to read the rest of it when her book is out on Feb 5th 2019!

Her advice to me? FINISH A MANUSCRIPT. Because I have like three unfinished manscripts, but my “book is in [my] first draft,’ #hannasaid #mustlistenlah

Plus! Her stunning book cover has been revealed! So Malaysian – I mean, just look at Melati’s uniform! Read more here.

Muslimah Writer’s Journey Summit is on!

“There is a story only you can tell because you are unique.” – Na’ima B. Robert,

I am SO EXCITED! The content is inspiring, the dashboard looks gorgeous, and the Facebook group is thrumming with supportive sister-writer love.

The Day One line up of wonderful speakers looks like this:

Na’ima B Robert – The Story You Were Born To Tell
LaYinka Sanni – The World of Your Mind, The World of Your Pen
Aishah Adams – Aishah Adams

There’s still time to sign up here! Bit.ly/MuslimahWritersSummit

The Naming

Aaaaaaaah! This is the sound of my EXCITED KAKAK SQUEE! My adik’s poetry book is available at Wardah Books! Buy buy buy!

OK. More coherent words.

Taskeen, Husna (in utero) and I were lucky enough to make it to Aisyah’s chapbook reading in October last year. It was such a gorgeous, unifying event. It was wonderful to witness people from all walks of life come together for the sake of poetry. This is the beauty of art, and how it transcends so much.

Aisyah’s reading was so well-received, and I marvelled at how she had her first chapbook published in her early twenties. May this be the first of many more!

She very sweetly named (ha!) me as her nominated poetry reader, and I was so thrilled to be able to read some of my own work. I have a video of my reading, somewhere, and hope to upload it soon-ish. Here’s to my poetry being birthed one day soon and finding its way next to Aisyah’s at our favourite bookstore ever.

Once I re-read The Naming, I can post a proper review ❤ I remember loving how experimental, brave and lyrical it is. And I have a signed copy muahaha.

 

My Book Launch – Monday, March 31st, 7:30 pm @ LMA Library, Level 3

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I have exciting news! I’ve been invited to be part of the “Write On The World Tour”, hosted by the LMA. I’m thrilled to be part of a tour spearheaded by Mark Gonzales, of #wagebeauty fame. Sara Saleh and May Fahmi are also wonderful artists in their own right.

On the 31st of March, I’ll be one of the panelists on the “Word’s Worth Forum”, which will be followed by my book launch. My book will be available for sale and book signing on the night, and I’ll also be performing a 30 minute book reading.

I’ll see you there!

(Tickets are $10. Please register at events@lma.org.au)

What makes a great character?

Think of your favourite books and movies, and ask yourself – what made you love or hate these characters? What made them so…compelling? The Write Practice wrote a post on this, titled Han Solo, Scarlett O’Hara, and Your Characters: What Makes Them Compelling? Definitely worth a read! To me, I can think of a few memorable characters, right off the bat:

Bella Swan. Now, when I think of Bella, I immediately think of the following synonyms: annoying, insipid and ungrateful. Read this great article on Fifty Shades of Sexism: Why Are Our Modern Heroines So Weak? and you’ll see what I mean.

On the other hand, when I think of Anne of Green Gables, I think of a very flawed girl-turned-woman with agency, passion and determination. I’m telling you, the classics are called the classics for good reason.

Having read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and watched the movies, I vastly prefer Eowyn over Arwen. Eowyn is a strong, focused, brave heroine who literally jumped into the jaws of death. Remember that scene? “I am no man!” Oh, goosebumps! Her courage is way cool. Arwen actually didn’t feature much in the LOTR books, unlike the movie, and..well…she was very ephemeral, beautiful, and useful for Aragon’s dream-scenes 😛 She doesn’t have as much independent substance as Eowyn.

To me, the best kinds of characters are the ones who grow throughout the story. I want to see someone who is flawed bumble through the pages of his/her story, and then triumph over his/her inadequacies and be in a better place by the end of the book. There needs to be some kind of motivation behind their actions, something I can understand and perhaps even relate to. Samwise Gamgee had so much love and loyalty for Frodo, and that made him my favourite hobbit 🙂

On the other hand, the biggest turn-off in any character is the P word – perfection. The last thing I want is to pick up a book, invest my time and emotional energy engaging in the story and character(s), only to find him/her in the exact same headspace, 600 pages later! I don’t want to read about a static character who is beautiful in the start of the novel and is still beautiful by the end of it. Give me some real, messy, problematic points that shake up the protagonist and compels him/her into motion. Give me something I can relate to.

With that in mind, it’s my hope that Jamilah, the protagonist in Finding Jamilah, did just that. She grew into a different young woman by the end of the story, and in all honesty, so did I!

Book interview

Hello world!

Sorry about my hiatus. I got married in January, and that tends to throw a spanner in the works 🙂 Irfan is my personal non-pharmaceutical kind of joy, but now that I’m out of the newlywed cave, I’m back on the marketing bandwagon! Check out my book interview with Mehal Krayem.

I feel like one of the best ways I can promote my book is by writing another one! More info on that, later…

As I write this, I’m listening to some ambient nature sounds in the background. How do you write best? Do you need silence, the sound of nature, or anything goes?

On another note, I’ve just finished reading the three Dragonships books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Brilliant work, as always. I adored the Weis and Hickman Death Gate Cycle series (from ye olde highschool days), but their Dragonships series is an entirely different ballgame. It’s inspired by Norse mythology, with its own twists on magic and mayhem. If you love fantasy and dragons, you won’t be disappointed!

On reading

When I decide to write in a set genre, one of the first things I do is to read only in that genre. Tunnel vision! I find that by doing that, I’m better able to find my voice when I write.

Here’s a list of some YA/coming-0f-age books which I read while writing Finding Jamilah:

Now that I’m working on my next novel, I’m delighted to finally be able to read some epic fantasy novels! A good friend of mine recommended C.J. Cherryh’s work, and I have been an avid fan of her work since her Morgaine Stories. If you enjoy a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, brilliant prose and horses (lol), read her work!

Now that I’m back to writing and reading fantasy, I’m happily devouring the second book from the Fortress Series, Fortress of Eagles, and I continue to be astounded by C.J. Cherryh’s masterful prose and vivid characterisation. And yes, Tristen is my favourite character. lol.

Audiobook-wise, I’m currently listening to Samuel Butler’s translation of The Iliad. (Audibly is one iPhone app you must have! Classics! For free!) I love the beautifully crafted language. Be warned, there’s a lot of blood and gore in the battle scenes. You can almost imagine yourself there, in the thick of battle, watching men fall beneath the slash of swords and spears.

But with all this reading, listening and pondering, what of writing? Ha. Procrastination has many forms!