Writers of WHQ: An Interview with Sumitra Singam

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In case you didn’t know, the Writers’ HQ writing community is the actual, literal best in the universe, full of amazingly talented and generous writers who make our little corner of the internet a very nice place indeed.

And, as part of WHQ Community Week, we wanted to show some of ’em off — blog stylee.

Every day this week we’ll be posting up an interview with one of our WHQ members so you can get to know them as well as we do: how they write, what makes them tick, their influences, inspiration, top tips and favourite stories. We also wanted to show just how different each and every writer — and their writing process — is, and how there’s no one ‘right’ (write?) way to do things.

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So today we are delighted to introduce you to WHQer, flash fiction writer, and excellent person, Sumitra Singam!


Tell us about your writing journey — where did you start, where are you now, and how did you get there?

My writing journey probably started as a lonely kid — I found books to be the perfect escape, so used to write little stories too. It has been an intermittent thing for me, but became more regular in the last 6 years or so. I did a course through Silverfish Books in Kuala Lumpur, run by a very exacting master! That helped to set up the discipline of regular writing, but that has been interrupted by life of late. I have the idea for a novel in my mind, and I am (slowly) working through Plotstormers to get the thing written.

Do you have a writing routine? How do you work best?

Well, yes and no? I am supposed to be writing an hour a day in the times that flash up on my calendar, but often life gets in the way. It is hectic at the moment. I work best when I am writing regularly — the juices flow faster and it takes less revving time at the start. But for now, I need to just accept that there are other priorities that often crop up unexpectedly, and one day soon that’ll settle and I’ll be able to return to a regular practice. (Or I could not accept that and spread myself thinner, then end up with holes all over my sense of self.)

What are you working on at the moment?

I have a folder on my computer entitled “Not a Novel”. So I am not working on my “Not a Novel”? I enter a few competitions, and try Flash Face Off now and again.

What advice would you give to a writer starting out?

I don’t think I feel qualified to give advice, really! I just make sure I have a notebook and pen in every bag, and eavesdrop and people watch shamelessly, then get it all down. One day those scraps will coalesce into something.

What’s the piece of writing you’re proudest of (and why)?

A story called A Benediction. It’s never gone anywhere, but it was hard to write, and was probably my first “proper” experience of wringing every last drop of the feels out of myself.

What are the main challenges you face with your writing?

Time, Rose Tyler, time.

Gif of Rose Tyler from Doctor Who crying

What are you currently reading?

I have just finished reading Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. I cannot recommend it enough. Such a beautiful, lyrical, gripping book.

What’s your favourite part of the Writers’ HQ Community?

Flash Face Off! It’s such a supportive, warm, welcoming space, and I’ve received great feedback there too.

And finally, give us three recommendations of writers or stories you love.

Hmm. That’s a hard one, just three????

Sorry!

Okay, but with the caveat that this in no way represents the entirety of my reading experience or aspirations:

  1. Dibs: In Search of Self by Virginia Axline

This is a memoir by a teacher-turned-psychotherapist, an account of the therapy of a very traumatised little boy. It was probably the first book that really grabbed me by the pancreas and gave it a little squeeze. It written in such a brilliant, restrained style, but oh, the tears I shed reading this. I’m tearing up just writing about it.

  1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I have read almost everything she has written, including her romance novels. It is probably trite to say so, but she really is an amazing observer of character and relationship. This is a classic, a very twisty story in an already twisty genre, but done very cleverly.

  1. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

I love Ishiguro’s restrained style. This is his first book I think. An amazing account of a very fractured personality. I thought it was a masterclass in showing, with a particularly complex subject matter.


READ MORE OF SUMITRA’S WORK HERE:

Dirgha Ayushman Bhava at Jaggery Lit

Excisions at Everyday Fiction

Uncle Ali’s Birds & Pick Up Time & The Family Tree at the National Flash Fiction Day Write-In

Sumitra Singam
Sumitra Singam

Sumitra writes in Naarm/Melbourne. She travelled there through many other spaces, real, metaphorical and transitional; and likes to write about those experiences pretending that it is all fiction. She works in mental health when she inhabits the real world and realises there are bills to pay.

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JoWHQ

JoWHQ

Jo is a writer who procrastinates about writing by writing about writing. She looks exactly like her avatar.
A happy woman sitting on a green sofa with a laptop. Lovely kitchen in the background. I'd be happy too tbh

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