The stories in this collection emerged, as most stories do, from a solitary space- one that every writer needs in order to let her creations come to life. Ironically, it is through that aloneness that the plural voices of the imagination spring into acoustic prominence. One might even say that in the thick silence of dawn, as a writer prepares to enter an as yet unknown world, the stories are fine-tuning their strings, producing a din (melodious or otherwise), somewhere inside the self’s system. With a book like Wildlife on Coal Island that internal noise was especially complex since the characters that inhabit this fictional island are many and diverse. So it transpired that working on this collection was a paradoxical experience, at once deeply reclusive and active where the characters’ dictation could only come into being in physical quietude.
These apt paintings of Coal Island were done by the artist, Paul McGregor. You can find more images of his paintings here: http://paulmcgregor.tumblr.com/
I paint when I want to play. While writing is always a serious venture for me, painting makes me whimsical, defiant, the enemy of seriousness. I completely understand what Henry Miller meant when he said that painting came from “some other part of my being…While I played, for I never looked on it as work, I whistled, hummed, danced on one foot, then the other, and talked to myself”. This is precisely what I do when I paint- and more.
About Shivani Sivagurunathan
Shivani Sivagurunathan is a Malaysian fiction writer and poet. Born in Kuala Lumpur and raised in Port. Dickson, she spent eight years in the UK where she studied Comparative Literature. She now lives in Malaysia and lectures at University Putra Malaysia. She is currently working on a novel set in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.