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- author Jackie French

Tuesday 22 August 2023

12 Curly Questions with author Chemutai Glasheen

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
From the time I was about 10 years old, I would pick up a newspaper and go straight to the notices page. I loved reading the obituaries of strangers. I look back and wonder if it was to confirm that the ones I loved were not in them. I was always fascinated by how someone’s life could be summarised in a few words. Maybe that is where my love for short stories began.

2. What is your nickname?

Tatai. My youngest sister couldn’t say Chemutai and so she would say Tatai. It has stuck with my family.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being cold and having no control over it.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
I invite you to approach new worlds and extend compassion.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Engaging, colourful, creative, attentive, honest.

6. What book character would you be, and why?.
Just for a day, I would want to be the Ugly Duckling in the fairytale. I would want a chance to say to myself I am not a duck and it is okay. I am enough as I am.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I would go to 2123. I would want to know if the prejudices of today would still exist 100 years from now. What stories would young people be reading then?

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
So you wrote a book and still can’t ride a bike!

9. Who is your greatest influence?

My mother. She opened the worlds to me by surrounding me with books. She raised 10 amazing children who continue to be my rock today. She is full of compassion and it is what I want to do in my stories – expand compassion,

10. What/who made you start writing?
It began with my love for reading. My Grade 5 teacher introduced me to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and I could never have enough of them. I was fascinated by the strange world and strange food. I guess that is when I began to want to recreate something that was familiar to me and my world. It was only after I wrote my first ‘real’ short story as part of an assignment at university that I began to believe I could become an author.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Enough. It is a word that gives me permission. If I don’t like something, I get to say enough and walk away. The best part of that word is when I say I am enough. As I am, I am enough. I have enough. It is permission to be happy.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Bible as it is a library in itself. It was written at a very different time but has ongoing relevance to me. It inspires me as a writer to want to reimagine the stories for today and for my context. 

Chemutai Glasheen lives in Western Australia. She is a teacher and a sessional academic at Curtin University. She writes fiction for young people and her work is influenced by her interest and experience in human rights and education. She has written a collection of short stories which are set in east Africa. Her work has been published in ACE: Arresting Contemporary stories by Emerging Writers and in the Museum of Freedom and Tolerance website. She holds a PhD in creative writing from Curtin University.