Mary Anne Zammit

Interview with Mary Anne Zammit

 

Age 50
 

Maltese - living in Valletta,

 

MALTA

Thanks for your time Mary. What was it like growing up on a small island in the Mediterranean?
Well, living on an island in the Med can be interesting as the climate is always stable, warm and practically with no problem of long distance. Being strategically between Italy and Northern Africa we were directly influenced by these cultures. I somehow feel proud by the fact that although we are a small nation, we have our own language and a colourful history.  Family ties and religion are very strong, which helps to create a sense of a loving community. Religion can at times be suffocating though, and dictates the  life and behaviour of people. My parents were strict and this did not compliment my rebellious free spirit character. Nevertheless, I still managed to get by with what I wanted in life.

Were there things growing up that still influences your writing now?

Yes, I would say that both the disciplined environment at home and at school has instilled within me a sense of discipline which, later on, has helped me in my writing. Another factor was that from my early childhood I felt the need to spend time on my own and this is from where my writing journey began. I can remember at an early age before I learned to write, I used to go on my own and try to draw figures on paper. I created stories in my mind which at that particular moment it had meaning for me.
 
Can you remember writing down your early structured words?

My journey in writing caught up with me while I was at Primary School. Precisely, this was the time when I was introduced to poetry and soon I made my first attempt to write. Then, writing took a leap forward while still at Secondary School, when my teachers remarked about my writing skills particularly in essay writing.  Simultaneously, I also wrote my first novel and it did not take long for my class mates to realize this and they insisted that during break time I read the novel for them.

 

Did you have  love of words back then?
Without words writers would not exist and words in my head were the culprit for my writing. Every poem, novel starts with one word forming a cycle of sentences. It was no exception in my case and words moved freely in my head and then put on paper. As years passed I kept on writing, but I needed to move further and asked for others to view and critisize my work. This has enabled to move on and work on ameliorating my writing skills. On top of all, by time I learned to become my own critic, reading my writing from the reader ‘s perspective. I strongly believe that it is an important tool for writers. Another important aspect was research which helps develop new techniques and provide necessary information for writing.

Did you go to University?

Yes, studying always represented a stimulus for my mind, and besides that I wanted to follow a career in Social Sciences. I graduated from the University of Malta in Diploma in Applied Studies (Social Work) in 1996. Then I graduated in Post Qualification in Probation Services in 1997. I returned in 2008 and graduated in Diploma in Diplomatic Studies in 2010 and  then  graduated again in 2012 in Masters in Probation Services.

 

Wow, with all this studying, did you still manage to find the time to write?

Well, my first love, writing, did not desert me during my study period and I managed to find time for writing between studies and lectures. Even while I was studying at University I enrolled for a course in Script Writing tutored by George Peresso one of the leading writers on the island. I must say that this was the most exciting part and through this course I acquired more techniques for creating writing. What's more, writing served as an ice breaker between my studies and kept me in touch with my inner world. I can remember contributing with poems and short stories in periodic magazines run by students in English at University.

 

Is writing your full time job?

How I love to do that as my full time job! Unless one works as a journalist or in the creative industry, one cannot make a living out of writing. I work as Probation Officer which is a career I have studied and aspired for. Well.. to start with part of my job entails writing reports but for professional purposes and it is rather formal and mundane. But that is entirely different. And of course, my job gives me a lot of satisfaction and serves as inspiration for my writing.

 

Tell me about your very first writing engagement.

My first introduction to writing was at an early age. That was the beginning of my journey but I believe that my first professional engagement was after I graduated and settled in my job. This was when my novels were published and I gradually entered into public sphere. This was followed by articles on journals both locally and Internationally.

Tell me about the projects you are currently working on.

I have a lot of projects in my mind and time is my greatest enemy. However, I like to work on various projects at the same time. At the moment, I am working on revising a novel which I intend to publish. The novel is about a young woman with mental health problems who gets a kidney transplant and from there many strange events follow. Meanwhile, I am writing a new novel which is both love story and mystery. Along with these are the poems which come to reflect my emotions.

 

What really inspires you?

Admittedly, I find myself being carried away and greatly inspired by my work experiences. As a matter of fact, I prefer to write love stories and mystery novels but there was a time when my writing took a different turn. Apparently, this was the time when I have been assigned several cases of sex offenders and violent aggressors from the Court of Justice. Personally, it was a tough experience and this has inspired me to put all these experiences on paper. So, in the year 2006 I published a novel based on the theme of rape and it really went well with the Maltese public. It also gave a broad spectrum on my work and the reality of violence. The same novel was rewritten in English and published in 2008 by the Mental Health Publishers with the title of Shattered Wings. Further on in 2010  another novel about child kidnapping and child pornography. My writing then shifted as in 2015 I moved to historical novel and published a novel with the title Dawn in Seville. The novel is based in Spain during the civil war. I believe that every process in life inspires me to write.

 

When it comes to poetry I love to write about nature and romantic love. Yet, I must say that my experiences in the social sphere inspired me to write as it presented me with a vast range of cases and experiences. So far, my life experiences do have a direct impact on my writing and I just wait for the exact moment to build a story or a poem.

What is the process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration, or idea, into actual words on paper?

This is the most exciting part of the journey. Inspirations are like voices in my head and ideas come at any time of the day. Normally, I carry a small notebook with me wherever I go and jot down the ideas. If it is a poem I just write it, if it is an idea for a novel I jot down the outlines of the plot. I am the romantic type and when an idea comes into my mind I feel the urge to put it on paper. I have tried to put my ideas directly on my computer but it seems that the former is more appealing to me. It is a beautiful process when there is a direct link from the idea in my mind through my hands and then creation on paper. A real creative process based on the psyche and emotions.

 

Do you have a particular writing location?

I write everywhere … for writing comes out from within but yes there is a particular location. This is a local coffee shop, in Valletta, Café Jubilee. What strikes me most is its design which instantly reminds me of the Art Nouveau  era. So, I stop and think, imagining myself back in time when writers and artists met in cafes to discuss their ideas. And yes, in this cafe I lose myself in writing, drinking cappuccino one after the other whilst my pen gracefully transforming my ideas into writing, flowing with the plot and dance of words.


What are your plans for the future?

From where shall I start. I have many plans for the future. For sure there are more novels and poetry. However, my greatest dream and ambition is to write a novel similar to Lord of the Rings based on Kabbalistic teachings and the soul's journey towards truth and light. Along with these are plans for poetry films or screen play.
And more.

Name your three most favourite books and why.

Amongst my favourite books I choose to name The Alchemist by Paolo Choelo. It is well written and the author went in depth to describe the inner thoughts of the character and also the story hints to philosophical and metaphysical process. Another book is Princess by Jean Sasson. I like the book because the novel is based on a true story depicting the secret life of women in Saudi Arabia describing the obstacles and trials and their quest for equality. Last but not least; The Lord of the Rings by JRR. Tolkien. The book incorporates all the elements needed for a good story with a good plot, fantasy and entertainment. 

 

Lastly… what does writing mean to you?

I would be a stranger in my own world without writing. Yes, writing is all my life, my first love. I must admit that my journey in life took me to various experiences some were beautiful others were lessons for growth. Yet, writing has remained my silent companion walking and growing with me, at times even offering silent comfort
Yes, I have been given preference to writing over other emotional situations and decisions and writing has not betrayed me and it will not.

Thanks so much Mary Anne, and thank you for your wonderful contributions to WAR, BETRAYAL, THE SEASONS and THE CHALLENGES OF FINDING LOVE. Don't stop writing!


For a little bit more info on Mary Anne, and to contact her, CLICK HERE.

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