Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sri Rahayu Mohd Yusop

Today theSun published my interview with Sri Rahayu Mohd Yusop who writes science fiction in Bahasa Malaysia.   

Headline: An Eye & Pen on the Future 
By Bissme S

Sri Rahayu Mohd Yusop has always been interested in the future of human civilisation.
The 39-year-old secondary school teacher firmly believes that science and technological advancement plays a significant role in shaping our future.
Sri Rahayu also loves books and speculating on how future technology will impact the human race.
“All that thinking and reading would have gone to waste if I
did not share my thoughts with others,” she says, when asked
what prompted her to go into writing science fiction novels in Bahasa Malaysia, during a recent interview.
Sri Rahayu’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Her novel Impuls/Roh, which deals with neuroscience and virtual reality, won first place in the 2010 Hadiah Sastera Kumpulan Utusan’s Young Adult Literature (Novel) category.
The following year, her Equilibria novel, which is about a group of people isolated on an island in an experiment to build a civilisation without petroleum energy, took the first runner-up spot in the Sayembara Fiksyen Sains & Teknologi competition. That same novel also won the Anugerah Buku Malaysia 2011 award for the Science & Technology fiction category.
Early this year, she bagged first place in the third season
of the Sayembara Fiksyen Sains & Teknologi for her Transgenik Sifar, which is about a boy’s experience as the first transgenic creation.
“I love writing about bleak futures because dark stories are compelling,” says Sri Rahayu.
“Whenever you read a sad story, you get more emotionally
attached to the story and the characters. I want to have that same impact on my readers.”
Some people are surprised when she mentions writing science fiction in Bahasa  Malaysia.
“They feel I should be writing something easier, and in a genre that more people would read,” she says.
But Sri Rahayu doesn’t take such criticism too seriously.
“I love being complicated,” she says, with a touch of
“When people see the science fiction tag on my novels, they
immediately assume that what I have written is complicated.
“What is worse is when my novels win awards, they jump to the conclusion that my novels are difficult to read, with serious subject matters.”
She reassures that even non science fiction fans can easily
understand her novels.
Sri Rahayu believes this is an exciting phase for Malay science fiction writers as more publishers are keen to publish Malay-language works in this genre.
Also Malaysian science fiction writers are getting more
adventurous in telling more diverse stories.
Her word of advice to Malay science fiction writers is not to worry about the size of their readership because, as long as they keep putting stuff out there, the readership will eventually grow.
Sri Rahayu cites Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton and Isaac Asimov as her favourite authors.
“Some unknown writers have also written some good stories,”
she says.  
“I remember the stories more than the authors.”
Science fiction films are also an important influence on her  writing, says this author who admits to being a film buff.
In fact, her all-time favourite science fiction film is Dark City written and directed by Alex Proyas.
“That film really changed my life,"she adds. 
“The story is based on how aliens have used the human race
as experiment subjects. The director has cleverly blended science and romance in a movie.”
She says that writing novels is one way for her to fulfil her childhood dream of becoming a film director.
“Writing a novel is me imagining myself directing and writing a film. My crew only comprises my pen, the paper I write on and me.
“My novels are my films, in my mind." 

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