Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Study in Cultural Viewpoint and Writing: Information for Writers

Welcome. This article is meant to be an opportunity to "hear" the voice of an author from a different culture and to recognize the impact of cultural norms and understandings on our writing. As we are writing for global audiences, I think it's very interesting to consider our own personal lens and cultural understandings - how we choose what goes into and does not go into a story line. It gives us a chance to ask ourselves how the nuances of our understanding influences our characters.

To this end, I have invited Jannath Al-Firdhaws to visit with us. 

She writes as Ann AriEl Wilson.

Hi Ann, can you tell me about your writing life? How did you
become a novelist and in what genre do you like to write?

Ann - 
I had a nice dream in the morning of August 15, 2007, which inspired me to write a novella-my first work.

Besides, I've been writing tiny poems in Tamil since childhood.
I have written a novel, some short stories, etc.

Then, the My Brother Satan series happened.

I had to make changes and make Satan anti-human, which made the Second Edition.

I removed adult parts after converting to Islam, which gave the Third Edition.

First, I thought it was funny to portray Satan as human-friendly, but right after the first book got sold, Lucifer appeared in a dream and said: "When would you give your heart completely to me?" I said: "That would never happen!" I woke up and made the second edition happen in anger.

Book-1: The Princess and the Serpent 


Book-2: The Fire Lord against his Vampire Sister

The books revolve around the New World Order and Armageddon Conference.

Fiona - 
I should interject here that Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, but also by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Burghers and Chindians. 

Ann, can you tell everyone where you live? Is English your second language?

Ann - 
Tamil is a proto-language believed to be the first by some scholars. My mother tongue is Tulu. Yes, English is my second language.

I live in Chennai, India.

I can understand, read and write Malayalam, Telugu and Tulu. Hebrew a bit. I'm learning Arabic.

Fiona - 

Ann, you and I were on Twitter having a discussion that I thought other writers would enjoy reading about and thinking about in their works, so I moved it here to the blog. 

You had read a ThrillWriting article about What Not to Wear about clothing choices for a heroine who will be in a physical fight.

You asked me about men's clothing and my response was - most men wear clothes that would work in a fight. But then you explained that you had to make up most of what you know about men. 

Can you talk about why that is true from your culture and how you research men to try to get them right in your works?

Ann - 
I have to research men by watching movies or reading books. Most men here are incapable of a friendship or acquaintance with women. We can't trust anyone and open up and ask for ideas.

Arranged marriages are still prevalent because men are not trustworthy.

They are playboys until they or their parents find the big fish.

Men are dangerous to be acquainted with. Lots of date rapes.

I mean in India.

Fiona - 
At what point are men and women separated in your culture? As a girl, did you play with boys? How does your culture deal with brothers and sisters - fathers and daughters?

Ann - 
A girl is secluded since they enter school. Children befriend without sexual knowledge or differences, but part up during adolescence as most boys misuse friendship. Men of the family would be chided not to touch the female child, but still abuses such as lip-kissing babies are prevalent.

Brothers get abusive during adolescence but turn towards other girls when they get to be teenagers.

Lack of sex education and moral education relating to sex contributes to these.

Sisters are testers, but if parents are strict in "not touching or staring at the female sibling," abuses can be avoided.

Father-in-laws and brother-in-laws here mostly at least ogle at the new bride and make her uncomfortable while the bride should live in the husband's home and be the no-salary cook, servant, pleasure unit, etc. Good families and men do exist, which can be attributed to about forty percent of the populace.

Fiona - 
In your culture kissing a baby on the lips is considered an abuse. It is so interesting to learn about the ways different cultures interpret different acts. 

When you write, who is your audience?

Ann - 
My books are mostly global. I grew up with Hollywood, which almost made me unable to think locally.

Sometimes I've dialled 9-1-1 instead of 1-0-0 in emergencies.

I don't generally write for anyone. 

Fiona - 
When you are accessing Hollywood, are you talking about films? TV? Both?

Ann - 
Yes, films. I'd have seen at least 11000 Hollywood films since childhood.

I skip TV serials as they are far from reality and mostly boring.

Fiona - 
Reality - that leads to my next question. Have you traveled outside of India? Or is your only immersion in western culture through these films?

Ann - 
I haven't travelled abroad.

Fiona - 

What would you say is the hardest thing as a writer to depict in your writing from only experiencing an other's culture through movies?

Ann -
I don't write of culture much. I write from the mind of the characters. Hence, not a problem.

Fiona - 

Thank you, Ann for sharing. 

Personally, most of the men I write about are those with military and law enforcement backgrounds. Backgrounds that I do not share. I do a lot of one-to-one interviews. I read a lot of biographies. I watch a lot of documentaries and also films that I have been assured by those who do that job are accurate and good study pieces. 

But I can't imagine starting from the beginning of not having male conversant relationships. That must be very hard indeed. I imagine this is true of many genre issues. Many of you who are writing a historical perspective or from diverse cultural backgrounds. 

We have a diversity tab here on ThrillWriting to introduce topics such as economics, disability, newly arrived citizens, and ethnicity. Keep an eye open, I am doing an article soon with a man in Spain who has written an American western from the Sioux POV. I'm very interested in the subject of preparation for a book like that as I'm planning a book from one of my Iniquus character's POV, and he is El Salvadorian.

You can keep in touch with Ann:

Jannath Al-Firdhaws writing as Ann AriEl Wilson

As always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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