with Shobana Gomes:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
My growing years were filled with reading and writing little notes in my diaries. I kept a journal recording daily routines and timetables. Whenever something triggered my mind, I would write it down and recollect those moments at a later stage. I often wrote what I envisioned for the future as a guide.
My first influences were storybooks by Enid Blyton, Mills & Boons, Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson, a set of encyclopedias that introduced me to Hans Christian Andersen and his incredible stories, and Louisa May Alcott’s, Little Women. I loved to read stories that pulled heartstrings and was full of suspense and drama.
Then when we studied literature in school, I learned about Shakespeare, and his way of writing intrigued me. Romeo and Juliet was the first book that I read and studied, a masterwork that kept me reading the book more times than any of his other books.
I ventured into the writing world by chance after the sudden demise of my brother in 2007.
I wasn’t able to attend his funeral as I was abroad and I wrote a couple of poems detailing how I felt about losing him, and how heaven was so blessed to have him there. I counted him among the angels.
I joined an international writing blog, Blogit, and that began my writing journey.
It was only there that I learned about the complex world of writing. One of the senior writers who read some of my poetry remarked that I wrote somewhat like Robert Frost. It was then I learned about Frost’s work, and they inspired me. In any case, I would like to believe that I had the trappings of writing like him. It was such a flattering reference that made me feel empowered and encouraged me further to write and keep learning to be better. I love writing about nature, love, life, and beauty, and his poems resonated with me.
If you ask me, my greatest influence was my brother who passed away. He was the catalyst, and he awakened a deep-rooted passion in me that had been buried for years. Now, writing has become a big part of my life.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Shobana: I have read many great poets and writers’ works since I started writing and to pinpoint a few, they are Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, and lately, I studied the English poet, Walter Scott.
I think generally all the great writers and poets out there have influenced me in one way or another. They have made a great impact on my writing.
I am also a great fan of Robin Sharma’s motivational books. I am influenced by his meditative practices.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Shobana: I come from humble beginnings. My dad worked in the Air Force, so we used to stay in different locations, depending on where he was posted. I lived by the seaside much of my teenage years.
I used to take long walks by the seaside, watch the sunrises and sunsets, go on picnics, swimming, build sandcastles and those days were my formative years where my writing is concerned. I can still picture them in my mind.
I am from the fabled land of Malaysia, famous for its beautiful beaches, rainforests, and great weather all year round. I stay in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Shobana(2nd part of question): Yes, I have been to a few countries I was inspired to write about. Countries like England, the great kingdom of iconic English poets and writers, India, with its rich culture and history, the USA, where I was awed by the Rocky Mountains, The World Trade Center, the eccentricities and draw of Las Vegas, Canada, and its mesmeric Niagara Falls, the South Pacific Islands in New Zealand, Australia’s vibrant love for life and sanctuaries found at the Gold Coast. Then, there was Cuba which totally blew my mind away. I was transported into the sixties there. It was such a magnificent place to visit and incredibly, a couple of years later, I translated a few of the iconic poet and freedom fighter, Jose Marti’s Golden tales to the Malay language for the Cuban Embassy in Malaysia. And of course, my diverse home country and its many attractions where I take much needed breaks from the demands of daily life, and holidays to other Southeast Asian countries.
I have written about all the places and countries I have visited. My travels impact my writing in a great way.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done so far?
I think my first book of fiction, A Christmas Duet, is the most creative work I have attempted so far. It is written in the first narrative with poetic laments. I wanted it to be different. I was awarded the top 10% among writers’ badge for the novel in the Inkitt Grand Novel Contest. It thrilled me because it was the first contest I participated, with my first book of fiction.
I have another book that I am delighted to have written, The Frenchman and His Lady, simply because it is a book written in the English Language with French dialogues, incorporating English translation. I found it very challenging to write that book and it gave me a chance to brush up on my French vocabulary.
https://amzn.to/3B8AqiX for A Christmas Duet on Amazon
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Shobana: I started writing in Blogit, and when I read the writers and poets there, I knew I wanted to be just like them. I loved to write, and poetry came easily to me. It became a rewarding experience in more ways than one. I have never looked back since.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Shobana: I like to read, listen to music, meet up with my girlfriends, sing my heart out, dance, cook, and spend time with my family.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
After nearly a decade, I published my second book of poetry, Walking Through Beauty, Timeless Footsteps on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096PX5Y21. It is a book that talks about my walk to freedom. There were moments in my life when I could envision the beauty of this earth, places untouched by civilization, the timeless wonders of the world, and of love. Throughout my trials, they have kept me dreaming and believing in the magic of poetry. These poems kept me alive
I am preparing a Facebook page for my books, Shobana’s Book Station, https://www.facebook.com/Shobanabooks.24.
I plan to list all my books there and at this stage, promote Walking Through Beauty, Timeless Footsteps. I have also opened an author page, Shobana Gomes. https://www.facebook.com/Shobana-Gomes-108271784816844. There is still a lot of work to be done but I am getting there.
Here’s another collaboration I am excited to be part of, the details of which can also be found on my book page.
My books have been listed on the new Estory App Store, a contract between Shandong Huayang Culture Development Co., Ltd., and Shobana Gomes. You can download the app. to read them here. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/estory/id1555615400 (IOS edition).
The Android edition will be coming out soon.
Q8: Who has helped you most with writing?
Shobana: I don’t have any specific person who assists me in my writing. I do a lot of research, read materials associated with the writing I want to put out, and learn a lot from trial and error. I think the writers and poets I read have helped me with my writing a great deal.
I have also taken online classes to upgrade my skills and craft, learn the art of poetry and studied English Language.
Q9: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
There are many lines from songs and poetry that I love. There is the beauty that I was inspired to write about in my book, Another Place to Call Home.
It is there in your mind, that beauty that you envision and dream of, find it and believe in its magic.
The quote has taken me into another realm of wild imaginings, where nature and love bring out the creativity of magical illusions.