Hey guys! Welcome to another author interview blog post. Today’s author interview installment sheds light on local Malaysian author, Arif Zulkifli! I’ve been good friends with Arif Zulkifli for well over 2 years now and he is one very talented writer! He has published many books both in English and Malay and is on the rise as one of Malaysia’s indie writers. He is the author of recently released Hijrah which was published by Iman Publication that has received great positive reviews.
I thought it’d be fun to have him over at BookLoves_ Reviews and pick his brain a bit to see how the indie writing scene is like now and his thoughts and plans for his writing career. Hope you enjoy the interview!
You can follow Arif at his social media:
Hi there! Thank you so much for taking some time to be interviewed for my blog. Can you give our readers a brief introduction about yourself and what books have you published?
Hi! And thanks to you too for including me in this amazing blog of yours! Basically, my name is Arif, but I use Arif Zulkifli as my pen name. Currently I’m studying in Uniten, taking Mechanical Engineering course (yeah, a left brain student doing a right brain activity. Haha). I have several books that have been published. A lot of them are compilations of short stories (eg. Bola, KLCC, Kaifahaluka, Fatehah, Untuk Separa Tuhan, just to name a few). And I also have published a compilation of short stories, all written by me (Antologi Cerpen 40) and also a novel entitled Hijrah. These books are published by different publishers, such as, Fixi, Buku Hitam Press, Penerbit X and Iman Publication.
(For a full list of Arif’s books, click here.)
How did you venture into the writing world as a Malay author, seeing how you’re still a student and you don’t write full time, I presume?
It started when Fixi held a (sort of) writing competition to win their books and I’ve joined and won several books from them. Later on the founder of Fixi, Amir, invited me to join their first anthology and I sent in some of my writing. I realised from that moment on, writing became my thing, you know? Haha.
What genres are you most drawn towards writing and how do you find inspiration for writing such engaging stories?
I tend to write as many genres as possible because just like reading, I also want to indulge into different genre of writings. I want to experience different type of emotions whenever I write a particular genre. But if I had to choose, my most favorite genre would be realism. I’m very comfortable writing it!
For inspirations, usually I get them in random places; while driving, watching TV and sometimes whilst bathing. And occasionally, I really like to go to bookstores and browse through different type of books, reading the synopsis and try to get inspirations from there.
What has been your favourite book/short story to write and why?
That would be Hijrah, because that’s my first novel and the characters inside that book are really close to my heart.
What kind of characters are you most drawn towards writing?
I tend to put a piece of me into every characters that I wrote. For example, a character who loves to read and another who is terrible at sports hahah!
Do you require much research whenever you’re writing a story or do you just wing it?
Some stories, yes. But many of them, I just write what I know instead of writing something that I’m not familiar with.
Do you have any writing routine/regimes that keep you on track for publishing a book?
Nope, I just write whenever I have the time and the mood. Haha!
Any advice to young writers looking for a way to get published?
Never stop writing. Just keep writing and don’t ever give up even when the publishers turn your story down. It happened to me many times but you just have to keep writing and editing your story until it gets published.
As a local author, what can you comment on the local writing scene and response you’ve received by the Malaysians towards your work?
From my observations, these past few years, the writing scene in Malaysia has changed dramatically, since the indie publishers started to grow bigger and bigger every year. So, instead of sappy-cliche love stories that we usually find in bookstores, nowadays more genres are there for readers to choose. And the readers who have read my stories, they have mentioned that they can accept it. They enjoy all the gory-ness! Haha.
If you have to recommend an indie-newbie (like me!) a local/indie book, which book would you recommend as a good start?
I really want to recommend my book Hijrah (ahem. Hahah) but there are books that are better than mine, for example, Kelabu from Nadia Khan is my all time favorite. Or if you want to find a tear-jerker book, you can try Seyogia from Amal Hamsam. And there are a lot of other books that are so so good. Just contact me at twitter and I can give you more recommendations. Hahah
Ok, last question: Any hopes/visions towards Malaysian reading scene in the coming years?
I really really hope that the reading scene in Malaysia will never stop grow until we can see, instead of phones, people hold books in the train. 🙂
I’d like to personally thank Arep for spending time to answer my questions! If you have any questions leave a comment below! 🙂