The Blog

Author interview – JosAnn Cutajar

 

 

 

Below is our interview with JosAnn Cutajar, Ph.D. JosAnn is the Maltese author of the landmark research study Bormla: A Struggling Community, set to be released to the general public by FARAXA Publishing this month in hardback, paperback and ebook editions. The preface to Bormla: A Struggling Community can be found here.

JosAnn, when did you first start writing? What motivated you to become an author?

I started writing when I was seven years old.  I got bronchitis and was in bed for a long time, so to pass the time I read a lot of books, including those by Charles Dickens. I was so fascinated by what I read that I decided to try and emulate major writers and write my own book.

I grew up writing essays in English and winning school prizes. At the undergraduate level, I chose to specialize in English. Midway through the course, I realized that learning about writing in English would not help to raise consciousness about social issues, so I had a mid-course crisis. But I stuck with the course, then opted to specialize in sociology, namely feminist and critical sociology, at the postgraduate level.

Feminist and critical sociology is based on the premise that sociologists study people with the intention of giving voice to the oppressed, raising awareness about social injustice, to bring about social change. I have written many papers which have been published in international, peer-reviewed journals. I have also written chapters in scholarly books and co-edited two textbooks on sociological issues in the Maltese Islands.

What is the story behind your latest book?

My latest book entitled Bormla: A Struggling Community, set to be released by FARAXA Publishing this month, was written when I met my husband who is from Bormla - the small, impoverished, marginalized but very warm-hearted community in the south of Malta and which the book focuses on. My husband used to try and explain what it really meant to be from Bormla and I used to counter the statements he made by resorting to received perceptions of the place. These interactionsspurred me to want to know more about the people who lived in this community, this city; how they thought about themselves and their sense of belonging, and how all of the above impacted the choices they made in life.

I wanted to find out whether received perceptions of certain places were based on ‘real’ facts or if they were just social constructions which served political objectives and agendas. In Bormla: A Struggling Community, I used both quantitative and qualitative research methods, namely a needs assessment survey and an ethnographic study, to find out what the residents of Bormla felt about living there, what resources were available to them and how satisfied were they with the services they utilized.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

For me, the fieldwork or “fact-finding mission” is the most interesting part of the whole project and my writing it all up.  You get to meet people, see their points of view, learn more about their concerns and how these concerns can be effectively addressed.

What are you working on next?

I am interested in carrying out research studies on how medical professionals deal with patients and their carers, and in turn the carers’ relationships with the people they care for. My father just had a nasty accident and this has shown us the underbelly of what it means to depend on the decisions taken by experts, whose dependence on machines and technology to measure the workings of the body in turn, means that they have often lost sight of the fact that they are dealing with people with feelings.

What is your writing process?

I start by reading a lot about the subject matter at hand. I steep myself into the literature, then take a break. Then follows the planning stage: I decide how to carry out the research, with whom and when.

I work full-time and have a young kid to raise, so time is an issue. Interviewing people and transcribing interviews takes a lot of time, but meeting people is also a great learning process. I design the study questionnaires. After interviews and interactions with people at the local level, I then input the data and analyze them.

The writing stage is very interesting. It is like solving a skein of tangled wool. You have a lot of information, but you need to untangle it and knit it into something new and pertinent. The challenge is to decide what information goes where and how to position or incorporate it into the text. I build the final text by including one bit of information at a time.

Where did you grow up and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up on the tiny island of Gozo which is part of the Maltese archipelago. From a tender age, I realized that decision makers promote certain places over others, which means that residents who lived in certain areas often do not enjoy the same standards of living as their cohorts living in other areas. Growing up in Gozo also taught me that when this happens, communities tend to help each other, to overcome these limitations. These resources, human or not, help communities survive inequities.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

My daughter! I write with the hope that by raising awareness, the world becomes a better place for her to live in. I would also like to see children, especially those who lack material means, to have access to the same resources as their national cohorts, whether this is access to library books, education, healthcare or entertainment.

When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?

I read a lot and like meeting people – those regarded as “the common people” because they have much to teach me. I like hearing their stories and working out how these stories all point to the micro-inequities they have to experience on a daily basis. In some cases, I question why they have to suffer if there are services which can help them. These services might not be on offer in their localities, or if they are on offer, they may be of inferior quality.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Unfortunately, I do not remember the first story I wrote. Other stories come to mind, but not the first one.

What do you read for pleasure?

I like reading crime fiction. The detectives in books always solve the tangled skeins in the end, something that rarely happens in real life. I like the way crime writers gradually fill in the pictures for us and build up tension, but at the end help to release it. Makes up for the frustrations we face in real life, where problems are not always solved or solvable. I also like to read stories about ordinary people like Maeve Binchy, Jodi Picoult or Toni Maguire.

 

 

 

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FARAXA Books now on Pinterest

 

 

 

We are on Pinterest now! Here is a snapshot of our new brand page on Pinterest which is finally up and running. Click on the snapshot or the link above and hop over to look at the covers of our books, all neatly arranged and cross-categorized by genre and language of publication. A short video of one of our soon-to-be-released publications for 2014 has also been posted.

Very easy to find any of our books you may desire to have or share with several others, as all the covers are linked to their respective availability pages. And if you feel like it, do follow us on Pinterest and share our new brand page with your family, friends and others alike. Enjoy our new page!

 

 

 

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Author interview – Rupert C. Grech

 

 

 

Below is our interview with Rupert C. Grech. Rupert is the Maltese-Australian author of the very popular, nonfiction book Stories My Parents Told Me: Tales of Growing Up in Wartime Malta. The book be obtained in both paperback and ebook editions from major booksellers including Amazon and the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide). Stories My Parents Told Me can also be obtained directly from our eStore.

Rupert, when did you first start writing?

 

I have written a great deal in my capacity as school principal over the years. These have included reports, letters, proposals, plans and so on. My first attempt at prose is my current publication Stories My Parents Told Me – Tales of Growing Up in Wartime Malta. I wrote this book in 2011 and it was finally published in 2013.

What is the story behind your latest book?

My latest book is a collection of seven, emotionally moving and sometimes humorous, short stories based on actual events which involved my parents and grandparents on the Mediterranean island of Malta during World War II.

What motivated you to become an author?  

My mother told me a story about her childhood and I always thought this story was amazing. When I narrated this story to others, I would, at times, get a little emotional but I was not receiving the same reaction from listeners. I determined that I must not be doing the story justice in a brief, oral recount, so I decided to write it down. Other stories followed until I had enough for a small book.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you? 

The greatest pleasure and joy I have received from writing Stories My Parents Told Me comes from the emotional reactions people tell me they have experienced when reading this book. The stories reportedly make them cry and laugh. Getting such affective reactions from others, including distinguished others worldwide, is especially satisfying for me, given the motivation for writing the book in the first place.

I have also experienced the joy of seeing the pride and self-esteem of my parents grow from seeing this book published and so welcomed by people all over the world. Seeing as they are the main characters in the stories, that is very satisfying. My mother’s education lasted only as far as third class, primary school, while my father got as far as fourth class, primary. I was the first in our entire extended family to graduate high school, let alone achieve an honours degree at university. To write a book and have it published is incredulous to them. It is the first book either of them have ever read.

My mother used to carry a piece of paper in her purse with the name of my degree and diploma on it, in case she got into a conversation with someone, so that she could tell them of my accomplishments. She now cherishes the book I gave her with the message I wrote in it for her. My father has become something of a celebrity atLa Vallette, the Maltese social club in Blacktown, Australia, that he often frequents.

What are you working on next? 

There are a few ideas I am considering, but have nothing definite yet. Perhaps another series of short stories associated with the many village churches of Malta. Perhaps a short, humorous novel about an eccentric woman who has a religious vision in a fast food restaurant.

What is your writing process? 

When I am inspired to write, I just sit at the computer for days on end and do little else. I do not have a formal process, perhaps I should develop one.

Where did you grow up and how did this influence your writing? 

I grew up in the inner suburbs of Sydney, Australia, and later emigrated to the outer, western suburbs of the same city. The greatest influence on my writing has been my ethnicity rather than my location. I believe that being from a different background and culture to the prevailing Anglo one in Australia has given me a keen sense of observation.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day? 

The knowledge and feeling that I am truly fortunate and have an incredibly blessed life makes it easy to get up each day. And get up early so as not to waste a minute of it; this and the belief that life is too short and passes by far too quickly.

When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? 

I love to play and listen to music, read and travel. I also like to keep fit by walking and swimming when in Malta or walking and running when in Australia.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? 

Yes, it is the story about my mother which I mentioned above. It appears in my book as the first short story, entitled Il-Pupa (the Doll). It has been described as a very emotional story with a dramatic climax.

What do you read for pleasure? 

I try to read a variety of books and enjoy anything that I consider well written. Lately, I have tended towards reading memoirs and short stories.

 

 

 

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Literature in Translation at major booksellers worldwide

 

 

 

FARAXA Publishing has the pleasure of announcing that the paperback edition of our book Il-Litteratura fit-Traduzzjoni / Literature in Translation can now be obtained from Amazon and other major booksellers worldwide. The book was published recently to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Department of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting Studies at the University of Malta.

Featured works are those of Albert Camus, Alberto Moravia, D. H. Lawrence, Gertrud Fussenegger, Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel de Unamuno, Oliver Friggieri, Pierre J. Meilak, Thomas Hardy and W. Somerset Maugham. The translators are Toni Aquilina, D. es L., Charles Briffa, Joe Eynaud, Sergio Portelli and Clare Vassallo. Il-Litteratura fit-Traduzzjoni / Literature in Translation can also be obtained directly from our eStore.

 

 

 

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Author interview – Alfred Scalpello

 

 

 

Below is our interview with Alfred Scalpello who is appearing on Tuffihat Migduma  (Television Malta 2) tomorrow, January 31, 2014 at 2.15pm, with a repeat appearance on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 10.30am. Alfred is one of the Maltese authors of the reference book, Glossarju: Germaniz-Malti, Malti-Germaniz. TheGlossarju can be obtained directly in paperback edition from our eStore.

Alfred, when did you first start writing?

I started writing while still in secondary school. I was a regular contributor to avchildren’s program Il-Mikrofonu (the Microphone), broadcast on Rediffusion and produced by veteran broadcaster Lawrence Mizzi. At 17 years of age, I translatedNarziss and Goldmund by Herman Hesse into the Maltese language, then during drama school I similarly translated some of Chekov’s one act plays. These includedThe Bear, The Jubilee and Cherry Orchard. All these works have been produced on stage or broadcast on national radio or television in the Maltese Islands. I also translated into Maltese the play by Plautus, The Rope, and L’uomo, la bestia e la virtu’ by Pirandello.

What is the story behind your latest book?

The story behind my latest translated book/thriller is about a poor chap whom life treats very badly and because of this, he enjoys living through the lives of others who have enjoyed a better fate than himself. Due to such vicarious living, the chap is accused of killing several people. Was it himself or others who, in reality, killed the people? Read the book and you will know.

What motivated you to become an author-translator?

The uncontrollable urge to be creative and contribute, to the field of Maltese literature, translations of good works by both classical and modern authors.

What is the greatest joy of writing/translating for you?

It relaxes me and helps me to be creative, while doing something different from my normal routine. Reader feedback is also very enjoyable.

What are you working on next?

I am not working on anything specific at present, but do have something in mind.

Where did you grow up and how did this influence your writing?

I was raised in Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The insularity which is a feature of this country naturally influenced my writing in both a positive and a negative manner.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

The fact that, thank God, I am still alive and kicking, and the energy to achieve something positive and help others in any way I can.

When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?

Relaxing with the family, reading, preparing lectures and translations, going to the theatre and traveling.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Yes. It was a story entitled The Stolen Meat and it was entered into the Australian weekly competition.

What do you read for pleasure?

I read books in various languages, mostly biographies, best sellers and thrillers.

 

 

 

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Author interview – Patrick Sammut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is our interview with Patrick Sammut. Patrick is the author of the children’s book, Tommy u s-Sabih tal-Qari u rakkonti ohra ghat-tfal (below right). He is also the author of the Italian language workbook, All’Attacco! Avvio all’esame d’italiano ai livelli SEC, intermedio ed altro (below left). Both books can be obtained directly in paperback edition from our eStore. 

Patrick, when did you first start writing?

I started writing back in the 90s. My first poem was about my love of nature. My first writings were published in local scholastic magazines and on the literary pages of Sunday papers in Maltese.

What is the story behind your latest book?

Talking about my story collection for children, with one story being about my becoming a father for the first time. My latest book is a collection of stories that I used to tell my son just before he fell asleep. Another story is about my long years of teaching Italian to 16-18 year olds in a parochial school.

What motivated you to become an author?

I do not recall exactly who in this regard. Maybe “what” rather than “who” is better. Having time to reflect, waking up in strange hours and taking the pen to write. I was also motivated by my love of books and knowing personally many local and foreign writers.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Writing gives me the opportunity to air what is inside of me and share it with many others.

What are you working on next?

Together with two of my friends who are poets, I am presently working on a new collection of poems in the Maltese language.

What is your writing process?

My writing process is more a matter of inspiration: being forced to quit what I am actually doing and take the pen in hand to write.

Where did you grow up and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up in Blata l-Bajda, Malta (EU). At home, my parents had loads of books which they read regularly. My mother used to help me in writing essays. I must admit, though, that my love for books and reading came much later.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Still have to decide.

When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?

Teaching, correcting reams of homeworks, taking care of family matters including my wife and three young children. I also watch action movies while on the treadmill and read interesting books.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

No. I remember that the first poem I ever wrote was named Selmun. I wrote it while I was out camping with some friends.

What do you read for pleasure?

I like sci-fi. However, I have hundreds of books written by non-mainstream writers and that are waiting on the shelves to be read someday. Among these writers are Gunther Grass, Patrick White, Kazanstakis, Amos Oz, Norman Manea, Nabakov, Jerzy Kosinski and others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stories My Parents Told Me at Sears department stores

 

 

 

FARAXA Publishing has the pleasure of announcing that our ever-popular, non-fiction book,Stories My Parents Told Me: Tales of Growing Up in Wartime Malta, written by Maltese-Australian author Rupert C. Grech, is now also available in paperback edition at the stores of Sears Holdings throughout the US.

Sears (formerly Sears, Roebuck and Co.,) is the fourth largest, American multinational, department store chain by retail sales. It is also the 12th largest retailer in the US, in terms of revenue. Stories My Parents Told Me can also be obtained directly from our eStore in both paperback and ebook editions.

 

 

 

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JosAnn Cutajar – Bormla: A Struggling Community

 

 

 

JosAnn Cutajar, Ph.D., is the author of Bormla: A Struggling Community, a landmark, mixed-methods, research study soon to be officially launched by FARAXA Publishing. Cutajar has studied in Canada, England and Malta. She is senior lecturer for gender studies at the University of Malta with the Faculty for Social Wellbeing. She is also the director and chairperson of the Cottonera Resource Centre at the same university.

The main foci of the expertise and research of Cutajar are on the structural factors which lead to social inequality and exclusion, with particular attention to the interactions of gender, social class, disability, race and ethnicity, with location. Both in this book and in other research studies, Cutajar has explored the differential service provision deployed by a centralized government and the effect such provision has on how people who are located in stigmatized areas in Malta regard themselves, together with the manner in which such perception affects their efficacy as citizens. Cutajar is also interested in finding out if residents located in a particular space are aware of the resources available in the community where they live, their level of satisfaction with these resources, human or nonhuman; and what alternative networks they resort to, when the resources needed to facilitate a certain quality of life are unavailable.

 

As research study after research study has underlined, communities living in places stigmatized by policy makers, the media and the general population often develop coping skills which provide them with alternative resources to ensure their social wellbeing. Cutajar feels that in Maltese society, resources are often deployed by policy and decision makers who are not cognizant of the differential needs of communities residing in different places. This means that policies which look neutral on paper might not turn out to be so when applied. Thus Cutajar believes that policy makers should put more effort into creating effective consultation exercises, to find out what residents in socially excluded areas need to be effective citizens.

 

 

 

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Online store of FARAXA Publishing is open

 

 

 

FARAXA Publishing is pleased to announce that our eStore is now open for business. At the eStore you can find all our books in their paperback editions and some ebook editions. Among our book range, for your reading pleasure you will find various academic works, novels, short stories, children’s books, translations, other non-fiction books, reference works and workbooks. Published languages include English, Maltese, German and Italian.

We ship globally. As part of our promotions for the opening of our eStore, we are presently offering free shipping worldwide and free local delivery on all orders received. Come over and have a look at our range of books. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

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Forthcoming soon – Bormla: A Struggling Community

 

 

 

FARAXA Publishing is pleased to announce that soon to be released is a landmark study entitled Bormla: A Struggling Community, whereby the needs and present situation of the warm-hearted people of this historical, impoverished city in the Maltese Islands are addressed by JosAnn Cutajar, Ph.D. Written from a feminist perspective, this place-based inquiry is the first major study of its kind in relation to the people of Bormla.

Dr. Cutajar successfully elicits and presents the voice, disappointment, frustrations and hope of the struggling people of this city, a community which continues to be significantly discriminated against by politicians, the media and general population alike. Dr. Cutajar is senior lecturer with the Faculty for Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta. She is also the director and chairperson of the Cottonera Resource Centre at the same university.

 

Bormla: A Struggling Community will be available to the public in hardback, paperback and ebook editions from all major booksellers and through our eStore. Inquiries and pre-orders are welcome.

 

 

 

 

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