In conversation with Aneeta Sundararaj

Our readers would like to know your inspiration (or story, if any) behind Unchartered Waters.

Unchartered Waters fuses three actual events in Malaysia: a clandestine adoption that went horribly wrong because of religious issues, adoptive parents who never gave up on an autistic child and desperate girls who hand over their babies to middlemen profiting from everyone’s sorrow. It was written in the style of an epistolary reminiscent of The Gift by Emma Donoghue in Astray (Picador, 2012). I chose the title from within the quote by the professor.

Tell us more about your creative process in general.

I read the newspapers every day. Often, that’s the start for a germ of an idea for my stories. Then, it takes time to flesh out the story, find the right dialogue and put all the pieces together.

Do you have any creative influences? What do you like the most about their work? Does it have a discernible effect on your writing?

Salman Rushdie. You start with the first sentence, and, before you know it, you’re reading the last word.

Are there any creative genres, forms, themes, techniques etc. you wish you could employ in your writing which you haven’t yet?

I’ve never attempted fantasy, YA or writing for children.

What are you looking forward to in your creative career?

I love it when people have a reaction to my stories. Naturally, I’d like for them to love all my stories. However, I’m also okay with them being angry (like many were with the story in my novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets). I’d be heartbroken if the stories are deemed boring. So, that’s what I look forward to: creating stories that evoke an emotion in my readers.

Aneeta Sundararaj is an award-winning short story writer who created and developed a website called, How to Tell a Great Story. Her work has been featured in many publications. Her bestselling novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets, was shortlisted for the Book Award 2020 in Malaysia. In 2021, she successfully completed a doctoral thesis entitled, Management of Prosperity Among Artistes in Malaysia.