'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 31 October 2023

10 Quirky Questions with author/illustrator Inda Ahmad Zahri

1. What's your hidden talent?
Juggling household objects. I learned to juggle from friends at uni who even gifted me a set of juggling balls one year. I’ve since lost them, but found that juggling things around the house or from the pantry is just as fun. My favourites are onions, as they have a lovely way of peeling off midair.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Miss Trunchbull from Matilda by Roald Dahl, because she is so committed to her villainy! She is confident and proud, inspiring (even if she inspires fear) and cares so deeply about crushing souls that she embodies it from head to toe.  

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
I started drafting a list that was several times longer than this question permits, but I’ve narrowed it down to these 5 because I think there would be a nice dynamic of humour, world-bending, deep conversations about humanity and poetic genius: Ahdaf Soueif, Gerald Durrell, Haruki Murakami; George Saunders; Elizabeth Acevedo. 

4. Which literary invention do you wish was real?
The Alethiometer from Philip Pullman His Dark Materials trilogy

5. What are five words that describe your writing process?
Messy, intuitive, ebbs and flows.

6. Which are the five words you would like to be remembered by as a writer?
Emotive, truthful, poetic, loving, bright.

7. Picture your favourite writing space. What are five objects you would find there?
I made an illustration of my dream writing space for my website, and it had: a guitar, a dinosaur figurine, sketches and favourite photos tacked up on the wall, a mug of coffee and a shelf full of books.

8. Grab the nearest book, open it to page 22 and look for the second word in the first sentence. Now, write a line that starts with that word. (Please include the name of the book!)
Instead of muesli and oats, how about we have ice cream for breakfast today?
(Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus)

9. If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?
I would ask (on behalf of my daughter who has often speculated on the answer) Mem Fox what her real name is.

10. Which would you rather do: 'Never write another story or never read another book'?
Ooof, this question is cruel! I’m tempted not to answer it as an act of self-care! But if I absolutely had to choose, I’d rather ‘never write another story’ – there are other ways to tell my stories, but to be deprived of the stories of others might make this world a little too hard to bear. 

Inda Ahmad Zahri writes and illustrates stories that are often imbued with her fervent wish for a kinder world. Originally from Kuala Lumpur, she now splits her time between her garden home in Meanjin/Brisbane and a sandy spot in the Middle East. She counts books, languages, Malaysian rice dishes and the ocean as some of her greatest loves. Inda's debut book, Salih,was a Notable Book in the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Awards. She has written several other picture books and received an ASA/CA Mentorship Award in 2021 to develop a middle-grade novel. The Month That Makes the Year is her first author-illustrator title. Inda is also a surgical doctor, a vocation that has taught her to be meticulous while embracing chaos, and to appreciate the gentler moments in life. For more information, see www.indabinda.com.