The following is an interview with Author Mohamed Abdi, who appears in the Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen edited Anthology ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, which you can now purchase here in either Kindle ($2.99) or Paperback ($12.50) copies. All proceeds are to be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.
This interview was conducted by Hal J. Friesen in anticipation of the anthology’s release:
Mohamed Abdi is a Somali-Canadian Writer with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies. He loves to read mystery and historical fiction novels and has written articles for both online and print magazines. Mohamed lives in Edmonton with his wife and children.
- Did the EPL play a significant role in your own immersion into Canadian culture?
MA: Absolutely. Edmonton Public Library has played a significant role in my broad understanding of Canadian culture and enabled me to immerse myself into the culture. This comes in the form of reading different books written by diversified authors, and I have realized that much of Canadian culture is built on readership and connection with libraries. In fact, I have been partly acculturated as I like to read and borrow books from the Edmonton public library. And readership culture is created and promoted by individual societies.
- When did you make the decision to start writing in English, and why is it so important to you?
MA: My university studies exposed me to writing opportunity, through essays, etc. As a result, I have developed a passion for reading and writing in English. I wrote my first English book in 2004. This was a non-fiction book, which touched on Somalis’ plight and their displacement after the civil war of 1991. I published my second English book in 2012. This was a collection of fictitious, short stories about Somalis’ predicament and their complicated conditions in various places of the world. I think it is so important to me to write in English, for English has become a universal language whose written materials and literature can be comparatively accessed by many people. So by writing in English, I can reach out to a wider audience.
- What advice would you give to other Non-Native English speakers trying to make their voices heard in English?
MA: My advice to Non-Native English speakers is to read as many books as possible, and to start putting your ink on paper and write things you have passion for, or concerned about, in other words. And you must know that your writing skill will not come overnight, but it has to start somewhere and grow gradually. So let you start somewhere and develop your writing skills onward.
- Who has inspired you as a writer?
MA: Somalia’s civil war has inspired me to become a writer. In fact, the insanity of that sinister civil war has set my mind into motion and compelled me to find responses as to why people wreck each other and take their countries apart. Why blood is spilled? Why children are orphaned? Why women are widowed? Are there alternate means of reconciling and resolving conflicts before resorting to the barrel of the gun?
- What is your next writing project? Can you tell us a little about it?
MA: I am now working on a novel (historical fiction) about Somalia, but don’t know how it will turn out or where this journey will take me, but I am determined to unleash my imagination and hone my skills for this project.
Check out Mohamed Abdi’s story “Learning From Your Library” in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon. And be sure to join us tonight, May 6, from 7:00-9:00PM for the official launch party in the Centennial room of the Stanley Milner Library!
-Brad OH Inc.