Turning the Pages with Ameena Hussein

May 01 2024.

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Ameena Hussein's multifaceted endeavours make her a standout figure in Sri Lanka's literary landscape. With a background in sociology from the USA, she founded PH Publishing House and actively supports emerging authors while also managing her coconut estate in the northwest of Sri Lanka. She's also an accomplished author, known for her novels and short stories. Her works have gained recognition both locally and internationally for their depth and insight. Her friendly nature has endeared her to many in the literary community, making her an integral part of fostering literary talent and promoting Sri Lankan literature both locally and internationally.

Q WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? When I was doing research as a sociologist, I began to think about the stories I was listening to both on the field and off and I felt the need to write them out.

Q CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? After I had got a collection of stories together, I discovered there was no proper publishing house in Sri Lanka I could go to. So, my place of work, the International Centre for Ethnic Studies published my first collection because they believed the stories were a social commentary on the country and the world at that time.

Q CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR NOVEL IN ONE SENTENCE AS IF YOU WERE TELLING A FRIEND? A story of love, betrayal and identity.

Q HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING STYLE OR VOICE? I have strong female characters and my writing style could be described as modern lyrical.

Q WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FOR YOUR STORIES OR CHARACTERS? From the world around me.

Q WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? The Museum of the World by Christopher Kloeble who came for the Ceylon Literary Festival earlier this year.

Q WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY DO YOU ADMIRE THEM? I don't have just one, but my top three would be Barbara Kingsolver, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Kamila Shamsie.

Q WHAT FICTIONAL CHARACTER RESEMBLES YOU THE MOST? This is a tough one. A combination of Jo March and the Mad Hatter!

Q NAME A BOOK YOU HAVE RECENTLY ENJOYED READING. River of the Gods by Candace Millard.

Q CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT A BOOK YOU ENJOYED READING AS A CHILD AND THE EFFECT IT HAD ON YOU? Two Under the Indian Sun by Jon and Rumer Godden. It was a book about two British children growing up in colonial India.

Q WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON SELF-PUBLISHING? I think it's a wonderful way of getting your book out into the public reading space. Most authors who self-publish their works are invested in their books and this gives them the motivation to publicize, engage and interact with their reading audience.

Q CAN YOU SHARE ANY INSIGHTS OR TEASERS ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING PROJECTS OR WORKS IN PROGRESS? Right now, I am working on publishing Yudhanjaya Wijeratne's collection of short stories and his Grataien-winning novel. I have also submitted a non-fiction manuscript which I am looking forward to working on. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Deputy Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno [email protected]

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