Inky Awards Shortlist: Interview with Zana Fraillon
An interview with Zana Fraillon about her book The Bone Sparrow, proudly presented by 13-year-old Inky Awards judge, Alex.
Q: What is your book about?
A: The Bone Sparrow is about a boy, Subhi, growing up in an immigration detention centre. He was born inside the centre, so the only world he has ever known is the world inside the razor wire fences. Subhi has never experienced the world outside, and is desperate to know what it is like. He asks everyone to tell him stories so he can learn about the world, and about life outside the centre. Then one day a girl comes into the centre from outside...
Q: What made you want to write about the topical issue of refugee camps?
A: I was seeing so much in the newspapers and on the news about asylum seekers and refugees, but what I was seeing were statistics and numbers and policies. I wasn't seeing people, or hearing their voices or their stories. I felt that we were forgetting that these were real people, not just numbers and policy issues. I wanted to bring back our humanity, and to find a way to make the voices of these people heard.
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
A: There are so many parts I love! I love being able to imagine for a living; I love the very first part of writing a story when the story is bright and new and brilliant inside my head and I am filled with excitement; and I love the editing process when I have written down as best as I can what was inside my head and discovered that it isn't so brilliant on paper – and then my wonderful editors swoop in and tell me what I need to fix and then I have to go away and work out how to fix it. That part is challenging in a really great way. That is probably my favourite part.
Q: What is your most loved part about Subhi and Jimmie’s relationship?
A: I love how immediately they recognise themselves in each other, and how quickly they understand that they can rely on each other and trust each other. They have lived very different lives, but they understand what the other one needs and they understand also how much they need each other. It is unconditional friendship. I think they could go their separate ways, and meet up again 20 years later and it would be like they had seen each other just the other day. Those kinds of friendships are rare and very precious.
Q: If you won the Gold Inky Award you would…
A: Celebrate unabashedly for weeks! The Inkys are so brilliant because they are judged by the people I am writing for. Getting this far tells me that what I am doing is right. That the people I am writing for, get what I am writing. It makes all the tormented hours of word wrangling worthwhile!