Papatia Feauxzar: Melati, Assalamu aleikum. Welcome to Hayati Magazine. Please tell us something we don't know about you.
Melati Lum: Wa aleikum salam! I’m a mum and former criminal prosecutor of serious crimes. In my past I’ve worked for the United Nations in the prosecution of war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. Outside of work, I love travelling, learning about different cultures, and spending time with my family and friends.
PF: That's good to know. Thank you. So how long have you been writing?
ML: I guess it depends on what type of writing! In my profession as a lawyer I’ve had to do a lot of combining different people’s accounts of an event and presenting it as one story. As a criminal lawyer it can be a challenge to find ways of presenting a story to an audience in a way that they can relate to and understand, but of course a lawyer is limited as to the facts. In terms of fiction, I’ve only been writing for about a year.
PF: Not bad! How long did it take you to write Ayesha Dean: The Istanbul Intrigue?
ML: I had to juggle my challenging day job with writing, so it took me about 6 months to write the first draft of Ayesha Dean, and then a further couple of months to edit it. With balancing work, family life, and writing, I found that I could only write a little bit at a time, but I tried to do it as consistently as I could.
PF: Do you outline your stories or do you just go with the flow?
MF: I had a general outline, and within that very general outline I went with the flow. I had to get rid of quite a lot of material that seemed ok at the time, but later didn’t fit with the rest of the story…
PF: I see and it happens. When will your book, Ayesha Dean: The Istanbul Intrigue, officially launch? Readers, you can read a review here.
ML: The official release date will be on 10 April 2016. On that date, I will be having an eBook giveaway for a very limited time for early subscribers to my website www.melatilum.com.au
PF: Readers, make sure you subscribe to get your free copy! So, you're an indie author. Why did you choose that route?
ML: Self-publishing has come a long way over the past few years. EBook readers and tablets make sourcing books a lot more convenient and readily accessible to readers all over the world, and the variety of books that are available to download has greatly increased. Also, print-on-demand technology has opened up the market to indie publishers in a fresh and contemporary way. Since Muslim and diversity fiction is still relatively new to the western market, all things considered as a first-time author, taking the indie route was attractive to me.
PF: You're already writing the next story which I'm excited about! Can you tell us which country you will set this story in if that's okay to reveal?
ML: Oooh no sorry that’s a surprise!!!!
PF: Okie, I'll be patient to wait insha'Allah hehe. Muslim fiction is on the rise alhamdullilah and please continue to write because we're onto something very valuable here; telling our own stories to the world. Do you think we can change the state of affairs with our voices?
ML: I think it is really important that Muslim and diverse voices are reflected in fiction to a greater extent than what is currently reflected in western culture, particularly the voices of Muslim women. In many cases around the world, the voices of Muslim women have been censored, ridiculed, or simply considered irrelevant. There have been various factors for this state of affairs, whether it be being part of a minority group, or unfortunately oppression from within our own communities. You and I are fortunate enough to be placed in a society where we have the opportunity to make our voices heard. And yes, I definitely think we can all change the state of affairs with our voices, whether that be among the wider community, in our own homes, or within ourselves.
PF: I agree, we are very fortunate indeed. Alhamdullilah. And we will bring about a change insha'Allah. You also have a LaunchGood campaign going on now. I pray you meet your goal and surpass it insha'Allah. Was it hard to set up?
ML: It did take a bit of effort, and I was fortunate to have the help of my partners in the campaign- Arabic Made in China- a fun and easy way to learn Arabic, and Life of My Heart- purveyors of modern Muslim lifestyle. Also the team at LaunchGood were absolutely amazing, really supportive and encouraging, and doing a fabulous service for the Muslim community. I’d highly recommend them for any great crowdfunding project!
PF: Masha'Allah that's awesome. I'll also look into their organization in the future insha'Allah. Jazak'Allahu khair for agreeing to be interviewed and thank you for being with us Melati. The team at Hayati Magazine and I wish you great success with your campaign, the book launch, and the book sales. Please share with us your social media links so our readers can get to know you better.
ML: Jazak’Allahu khair, thank you so much for the kind words and the interview :)
PF: Wa iyyakum! :) Wassalam.