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Authors share a deep dive of their Creative Process at Sharpened Word

By Anne Das

The latest happening at Sharpened Word after a long hiatus, featured a session with two different prose writers, Preeta Samarasan and Maureen Tai. As serendipity would have it, both girls share more than just being from Ipoh and going to the same school. The moderators for this session were Aida Nazeri and Dr. Paul Gnanaselvam.

Maureen Tai was born and bred in Malaysia but is currently based in Hong Kong, Maureen has worked, lived and travelled extensively in both the east and west, being fluent in 4 languages. After spending 2 decades in the corporate world she swapped her legal career to write.

Having children and being a mother, Maureen became  passionate about promoting diversity in children’s literature and strives to do so by writing Asian stories that embody universal truths.

“I realised then, that there were not many children’s literature books, picture books or young adult novels of children who looked like me or Preeta or any of us Malaysians.

“We didn’t have those authentic stories in traditional books that we could get at a book shop in Barnes & Noble in the UK or in America.  None of our stories are there. The people that write Asian stories and speak for Asians are Asian Americans or British Asians. Sadly, they are not the ones who had the authentic experiences that we had.

“I took it upon myself to write for children and showcase authentic stories about Malaysia and Asia for children everywhere around the globe.

“We have such a unique setting, with our languages, with our cultural heritage and not forgetting our king of fruits, the durian!” said Maureen with a huge smile.

Today she works with local literacy organisations and reviews children’s books on a family blog and YouTube channel. You can find her work at

Preeta Samarasan was born in Batu Gajah and brought up in Ipoh. Preeta received her later education in SMK Convent at a time when Greentown was still green. After leaving Malaysia for her higher education, Preeta lived in the USA for 14 years before moving to France, where she still lives today. She is the author of the novels, Evening is the Whole Day published in 2008; Tale of the Dreamer’s Son in 2022 as well as many short stories published in Literacy Journals in several countries.

“This feels like a very very special reading for me, this is the first Literary event that I have done in my hometown. Its wonderful to be here.

“Just like Maureen, about why I write, I found so many similarities and I can relate to what she was saying even though I myself have not written for children yet.

“The reason I write has a lot to do with diversity that not only centres on the west. Stories about Asia as Asia relates to the west. I see my own writing as writing about Asia that does not centre on the west; it is not addressed to the west. It is important for people to read about each other. At a more basic level, I write for Malaysians about Malaysia. This is my background and my childhood and my own concerns on the page”, she reflected.

Preeta Samarasan is a Malaysian author writing in English whose first novel, Evening Is the Whole Day, won the Hopwood Novel Award. “Our House Stands in a City of Flowers” won the Hyphen Asian American Short Story Contest and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Short Story award in 2007.

Both ladies read from their works and spoke passionately about their stories of Ipoh and of earlier times.

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