Author Tit-Bits: Golda Mowe

Hello friends. Here I am with the latest installment of Author Tit-Bits. This time we’ve with us Golda Mowe from Malaysia who is famous for her novels on Iban people. Sometime back  I read her novel Iban Woman, which I quite enjoyed. You can find my review of the novel here.

Author Tit-Bits

Q. Please tell us something about who Golda Mowe as a person is. Would you mind sharing your routine for an ordinary day?
GW: I am a woman who, since my childhood days, has been a great disappointment to my elders. I have all the potential of being ‘sugar and spice, and everything nice’, yet always fall short of it. When in my early teens, I started reading my sister’s romance novels because they had pirates and highwaymen and soldiers in dashing uniform. How I wished I was a boy then. I skipped most of the romantic scenes because the heroines were too helpless and their thoughts too petty for my taste. It was only after I read Sir Walter Scott’s Heart of Midlothian, did I finally find a heroine I liked in the form of Jeanie Deans. I have stopped wishing to be male since.

My daily life is as dull as I can make it. This is deliberate because I find it to be the best way to fire up my imagination. I do some light exercise after I wake up at seven. Then I will go through a bit of writing or some planning or plotting. When in the mood, I will cook some lunch, sometimes burning myself or the food in the process because I have a bad habit of letting my mind wander. After lunch it is back to the notepad or keyboard. I will stop around five and spend the evening watching the news or documentaries while crafting or playing Sudoku. Both activities help calm me down. I tell myself to get to bed by eleven, but it is usually around one.

On days when the words or ideas would not come, I will do some drawing. If that too is not forthcoming then I will try to learn something new. I used to struggle over my doldrum periods but I am now more aware of my creative cycle, so I am more relaxed.

Q. Being a part of the Iban culture, which is also the subject of your writing, what is it in the Iban culture and its people that you admire the most?
GM: My favourite Iban attitude is one where each believes that they have a right to be heard. Because of this, longhouse meetings tend to be long and tedious. Even though nowadays there are committees to streamline such meetings, people will still speak their mind. It seems egalitarian but this should be understood from the social context because not all voices are treated equally. The Iban judge another person’s character through their action; and their skill through the fruits of their labour. So when a man or woman speaks, the weight of their words will be judged against their social standing. If their social standing is weak, they will still be heard but their words are given less weight.

Q. Iban Woman is the third novel in the Iban series. Was it easy or difficult to write a novel on the same subject for the third time?
GM: It was easier in the sense that I did not have to worry about world building. By the third book, I could also be more focused on Iban folklore because I stopped worrying about the readers. Those who come back for more are already accepting of a fantasy world with no fire-breathing dragons or flying swords. I feel less judged now for writing an Iban story. Or it could just be that I no longer care if people think my work is lesser because I do not have some of the more familiar fantasy elements.

Q. Simon De Beauvoir writes “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” In the light of this remark, how do you see Ratai’s character?
GM: I have no idea what this quote is trying to say to be honest. I feel that it sounds clever but is non-enlightening. Maybe it is because I interpret the word ‘woman’ only from a biological perspective. In fact, I believe that gender should only be relevant for medical purposes. Other than that everyone should be free to dress, work, love and socialise in any way they wish.

Most social definitions of the word ‘woman’ have either restricted me or diminished my struggles as a person. This is the reason why I made Ratai out to be the ‘imperfect’ woman. I wanted her to be free to do what she loves. If she had been the ‘perfect’ woman, she would be tied down to the hearth, the field and the weaving loom. As an imperfect woman, she is free to become whoever she wishes. The irony is she has a spear and a spindle from the creator god, so she should be more than perfect yet she is not.

Q. Are you working on any book now? Do you wish to venture into genres other than fantasy?
GM: I was working on another epic for Ratai until a month back when I was asked to prepare a proposal for a different writing project. The book is on hold for the time being. Other than history and fantasy, I also love sci-fi. I hope to go into that too someday.


Thank you Ma’am for your time. And let me assure you that your interpretation of Simon de Beauvoir’s quote is quite apt. I along with all my readers wish you best for your future endeavors.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s