Interview with Fadzlishah Johanabas

Gold Coast Speckies interview Malaysian author Fadzlishah Johanabas:

I am a Malay, raised in multicultural Malaysia, and a Muslim. Not necessarily a model Muslim, but still. When I was in secondary school and in university, I thought that writing English stories featuring local people and setting didn’t seem right, so I wrote about Caucasians in their vaguely Caucasian world, courtesy of TV series and movies.

When I finally gave up that internal argument, I found my voice. In a way, the adage “write what you know” is spot-on. I know Malaysia. I know its settings and cultures and racial dynamics. I know its myths and legends. I know Islamic values and teachings. I used to have a writing group at, and they loved the exoticism of my stories, which, to me, was inherently local.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a Muslim, and most of my characters are Muslims as well, as evident in “Act of Faith”. I’ve gotten mixed reactions for it. Other Muslim people across the globe are happy that a brighter facet of Islam is portrayed, while there are people who complain that I’m trying to preach and spread my Islamic ways.

I’m not. Christianity is deep within the pages and reels of fiction, but people don’t even blink twice. The crucifix, the invocation of Christ, the Christian ways of defeating vampires and other monsters. People don’t really think about the subtle messages of Christianity because they’ve always been there. When someone else from another culture and another religion uses what he knows, he sometimes gets a sound lashing. – read the full interview.


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