The second of six Q&As with Indonesian authors visiting the London Book Fair as part of the Market Focus programme
Reda Gaudiamo was born in Surabaya, East Java in 1962, and currently lives in Jakarta. She writes short stories and novel for young adults. Her books, Na Willa (2018) and Tentang Kita (About Us, 2015), will be published in the UK by Emma Press in 2019. She was the chief editor of Cosmopolitan Indonesia as well as publisher of several international lifestyle magazines. She has won several awards for her short fiction and novels, among others from Gadis and Femina magazine. In 2018 Reda was awarded a writer's residence in the UK by the National Book Committee of Indonesia's Ministry of Education and Culture. Reda is also known as a musician and singer. For more than 30 years she performed as a duo with her artistic partner, the late Ari Malibu, creating musical interpretations of poems. Today she's working on the third series of Na Willa and her very first solo album. Both are due this year.
Tell us about your route to publishing.
I started writing a bit later than most. I worked for an Indonesian teen magazine as a journalist, and along the way I pushed myself to write short stories out of curiosity. I stuck with short stories for quite a while, until one day I decided to make a kind of journal of my childhood days and posted it on my Facebook page. People asked me to publish it as a book, and I worked on that. One day a friend of mine found it in a café and she liked it so much she decided to sell the book in her tiny bookshop, Post, in Pasar Santa. Then the books started getting more popular, and they decided to reprint it and send it to the book fair. The English rights were acquired by the Emma Press in the UK this year.
You are a musician - a singer and songwriter. How do you compare writing songs to writing stories?
In the first phase of my career, I was mainly singing with my partner. We wrote the music, and the lyrics were taken from the poems of Indonesian poets. Then my partner passed away last June, and I had no choice but to keep on going. So this is the phase where I started doing both - making music and also writing lyrics, which is very difficult! I think it's easier to write a short story! With short stories, you just write whatever comes to your mind and your heart, you just write and put it down, you just don't care, there's just someone with a story, someone getting into trouble, or falling in love, or whatever... you don't care about the format. But with a song, you have to count the syllables.
What is the first book you ever fell in love with?
It was a children's comic book called Wiro Anak Rimba, the Indonesian Jungle Book. It's a comic series in the Tarzan/Jungle book series, written by Liem Boen Djien and drawn by Kwik Ing Hoo.
Which author would you most like to meet (dead or alive)?
René Goscinny, the French comic editor and writer, best known for the beloved Asterix comics. I love how he created the characters in his stories.
Reda Gaudiamo is one of 12 leading Indonesian authors appearing at the London Book Fair 2019 as part of the Indonesia Market Focus. Her book The Adventures of Na Willa will be launched by the Emma Press at the Spice Cafe on 14th March at 2pm. Click here for additional events and more information on the 12 authors and the cultural programme in conjunction with the British Council.