Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fadzlishah Johanabas

Today theSun published my interview with Fadzlishah Johanabas who has produced an anthology of short stories titled Faith and The Machine, published by Simptomatik Press. Here is the full interview 

Headline: Between  Faith & Hope 
By Bissme S

A Neurosurgeon by profession, Fadzlishah Johanabas is also an active short story writer.To date, the Kuala
Lumpur native has published 25 short stories both locally and internationally.His latest release is an  anthology of 14 of his stories. The 227-page Faith and the Machine, published by Simptomatik Press, is now available in bookstores.The 34-year-old spoke exclusively to theSun about his writings, passion and challenges he faces as a writer in Malaysia.

*Tell us more about your anthology, Faith and the Machine?

“As [most of my works are published] internationally, I wanted to have an anthology published locally so that it is accessible to Malaysian readers. International readers say my stories represent Malaysia and I just want Malaysians to know how my stories represent them.
“My stories are about faith and one ‘machine’ that moves us when everything else fails – Hope. Not all of you will love my stories and for those who do, you may or may not love all of the stories in this book. But if you do fall in love, even with one story, then I have succeeded in reaching across the time-space continuum to touch your heart. And for that, I thank you.”

*Why did you want to be a fiction writer?

“Dreams are our subconscious trying to make sense of our experiences, and I am just among the lucky ones to convert my dreams into stories. I write stories to make sense of the world around me. I write stories that I want to read. It’s a selfish undertaking, really.”

* Where do you get your inspirations?

“Sometimes stories [grow from] a single opening line. Sometimes, a character appears in my head. Sometimes, a scene appears. I don’t turn them into stories immediately. I let them incubate in my mind, and when a situation or a complete story arc comes to me, I turn these fragments into a story.I don’t write often. Sometimes,
the interval between stories takes months; sometimes, years even. That means, these stories have time to grow in my head.”

*Between medicine and writing, which is your No.1 love?

“I used to think that they were exclusive. I had to concentrate on one at a time. That didn’t happen. Sometimes, I write flash fictions in-between my surgeries. When I write stories, more often than not, I insert some medical elements in them. Dealing with death and desolation almost on a daily basis, I have learned to channel these strong emotions and shape them in stories. A Long Sigh Goodnight is a good example. I have learned to accept that both are major facets of my life, and I love being a surgeon as much as I love being a writer.”

*What is the greatest challenge you faced as a Malaysian fiction writer?

“For an English writer, finding outlets to publish my stories locally was the No.1 wall I had to circumvent. It is a good thing we have [the internet] as I am able to submit my stories anywhere in the world. 
Another major problem is that Malaysian readers expect Manglish from local writers; I might be generalising too much here, but I believe that using Manglish restricts my readership when I want the entire world to have access to my stories.”

*Tell us about your next work?

“It is about the depth of a friendship between two boys, where one of them is dying while the other is only learning to live. It’s currently in the submission process, so let us pray that I will get good news.”

* Is there a message you want to impart to your readers?

“I needed for the world to make sense.I needed to have a deeper connection with my faith. I needed to know that the world [can] be a better place. I abhor didactic fiction, so I avoid that.If a reader’s perspective reflects mine, then it’s a bonus for me and for that, I thank the reader.”

the writer in the arms of his loving family 

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