Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Interview with Bissme S
Here is my email interview with Bissme S, one of the writers of 'Dark City 2', who contributed the story, 'Dad'. He is a journalist with The Sun in Malaysia.
1) What is the difference between writing fiction and journalistic writing (your day job)?
With journalistic writing, you deal with facts. You write what you see. You write what you hear. For example, when you are interviewing an actor and he talks to you about his life, about his career, about his love life and about his future projects. It is your job then to present these facts as interestingly as you can.
Fiction is an entirely a different story. You start everything from scratch. You create the characters. You create the mood. You create the beginning and the ending. Your imagination can go as wild as you want. The way I see it, with fiction, the ball is in your court and you can do whatever your heart desires.
2) Does one inform or enrich the other?
Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't. Journalistic writing helps me to add realism to my work. Journalism is also about meeting deadlines. It builds the discipline in you to keep writing.
But there is also a drawback. As a journalist you spend eight hours chasing stories and typing them in front of the computer. So when you get home, the last thing you want to see is a computer and the last thing you want to do is to type another story. You literally have to drag yourself to the computer to write fiction.
3) Which authors' works do you read, including Malay ones if any? How do they help you in your writing?
I do not have one particular author that I adore. Instead I will pick some of my all-time favourite books.
a) 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens
This is my all-time favourite book. My favourite character is the spooky character Miss Havisham who got ditched on her wedding day. Since then she has not changed her wedding gown and has left her wedding cake to rot. Then, as part of her revenge, she adopts a child and trains her to break men's hearts.
b) 'Keluarga Gerilla' by Pramdoeya Ananta Toer
The story centres on a family during the fight for independence. My favourite character is the mother who went mad thinking of the sad fate of her favourite son who has joined the revolution to fight for freedom.
c) 'Flowers In The Attic' by VC Andrews
This was my favourite book when I was a teenager. Recently I had the opportunity to re-read this book and I do not feel the same passion for the book as I used to feel. Still, there are moments in the book which thrilled me. A mother who's willing to kill her four children just to gain wealth.
d) 'God Of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy
I wish I could be as talented as Arundhati. The way she uses words to describe situations and feelings is simply amazing.
e) 'Reading Lolita In Tehran' by Azar Nafisi
It takes place in the Islamic Republic Of Iran, where lecturer Azar Nafisi secretly gathers seven of her committed female sutdents to read the forbidden western classic. I love her usage of words. The book simply tells you that you can't take the simple things for granted.
f) 'Before Night Falls' by Reinaldo Arenas
It is the autobiography of the cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas who recounts his difficult childhood years and being oppressed under the regime of Fidel Castro. Another writer whose writing style I wish I could emulate.
g) 'Choke' by Chuck Palahniuk
His imagination is simply superb. The way he writes is never to impress.
4) What are your fiction-writing habits like? Do you only write when you're inspired or do you put in a number of words every day or week no matter what? What are your inspirations?
I would love to say that I write every day. But that is not case. I try to write as much as possible. As for inspiration , I just have to look around me. Finding inspiration is never a problem to me. But turning my inspiration into a full-fledged story is where the trouble is. I have so many ideas roaming in my head. But I never take the trouble to turn them into stories. I have to confess that I am a lazy writer. *hahaha*
In fact, late last year, I had a bad episode in which the computer caught a bad virus and wiped out my hard disk. This included all the short stories and poems I had written for years. This fact has demotivated me to write. I am slowly picking up the pieces and learning to write my stories again.
5) What are your ambitions as far as fiction-writing is concerned? Do you intend to submit more stories for 'Dark City 3'? Will you author your own novel or anthology?
I have submitted a story to 'Dark City 3'. Whether it will be accepted will depend on the editor/publisher. It is my dream to have an anthology of short stories published. When this dream will become a reality - that is something I can't say for sure.
6) Which is/are your favourite story/stories in 'Dark City 2'?
'The Neighbour' by Jennifer Tai. I must confess I loved the emotional impact the story had. It was written rather beautifully. Best of all, the story sounds real. It is as if the events really took place. I like fiction that sounds real... very real.