This time the Literary portal has got an interview with Mariyam Sarbayeva, a Kazakh philologist, English teacher and rising short story writer.
— Good day, Mariyam! How is life? What are you currently up to?
— Nice to see you and thank you for inviting to the interview, it is both exciting and thrilling in a good sense. I’m doing well, thank you! Quite busy at the moment as lots of big things are currently happening, they are effort and time-consuming and require a huge amount of energy, concentration and stamina, but I am dealing with them pretty well. You know, I am a bit of a perfectionist, though I am not complaining as it really helps to succeed if you are at the same time rational.
— Could you please tell us about prose or short stories of yours? They are so witty and humoristic, and show the modern life reality. When and how did you start write those stories, did you study somewhere for writing, who or what influenced your willing to write or it is just a kind of inner calling?
— Thanks a lot for you high estimation of my work, I am really pleased and happy to hear that. Well, I cannot say that I have done any special courses how to write. For all my life I’ve been continuously involved into the language, here I do not mean any specific one, but I am speaking about the language in general. All this considered I had no chance left not to start writing. I have been learning English since I was 10, which makes it not even 2 but 3 decades of permanent improving and mastering the language. Then I have done my Bachelor’s, later Master’s and finally Doctor’s degree in Linguistics. That’s a lot. You see, I am into languages. So far, I have started learning and speaking a couple of languages, such as French and Italian, my Turkish is fluent, I’ve tried Arabic and Chinese, but they didn’t work, unfortunately, which makes me think I am not good with non-alphabetical languages. I mean, if it’s a hieroglyph, I am no good.
Back to what or who inspired me to start writing, I believe, it is life itself. I had a great urge to embody my thought in a form of a story, a short one but striking and overwhelming. So this is the way it all began.
— Do you have your stories published, and where?
— To have my book of stories published has been on my wish-list, actually. I still hope that I’ll make my dream come true one day. But for now, my stories have been published in a collection of stories. I also used to post them on social media, different websites, just to share with other people. The feedback is immense. People comment on the stories, express their opinion, laugh or cry, but every time any of my stories is so close to what the readers have experienced in their lives.
— What is favorite story written by you and could you share the background of its writing?
— That’s a hard question. Let me think. I have a couple of my favorite ones. The one that I love the most is a story that actually consists of 3 stories. The narration is about a young girl and her love issues, a lost boy who is being rescued in a city, and an orphan boy. All this happens on New Year’s Eve, the 3 stories start and are unexpectedly interrupted by “all of a sudden”, thus making the reader eager to know what is going to happen next. There is the happy end in each story, sorry for the spoilers.
— You are a specialist in English, do you have any idea to start writing also in English?
— That’s a great idea, thank you. Well, I’ve never thought about it, so why not? Although all of my stories are for the local readers or at least the ones with the background more or less similar to ours, the issues raised in them are all familiar to any person as they are about love, passion, kindness, empathy, loyalty and others.
— At the present moment you are doing your Doctorate, did the studies influence your prose anyhow?
— Actually I’ve done my Doctor’s degree by now. As for my answer, it’s both yes and no. Let me explain. Well, on the one hand, I’ve started writing more detailed stories, and the style has improved significantly. At the same time, I am still writing about the things quite close to anyone, with the same unexpected endings, there is nothing better that to surprise the reader who is not ready to the end that I’ve arranged.
— You have been publishing some of your stories on social media as well as participating actively in capital city’s literary meetings. Could you please tell us about your manifestation in general, what kind of feedback do you see, where can young and new authors gather in order to show themselves and look at others, exchange their worldview and experiences?
— Before I started writing and reading my stories on the stage I couldn’t even have imagined how interesting the cultural life of the capital is! Believe it or not. It’s really full of cultural events where the poets, musicians, writers, artists, and people like that create, spread and share their works. The atmosphere is fantastic, the audience is always ready to catch and absorb the vibes, show their involvement, support, encourage and inspire to create. I still remember a young girl who came up to me after I had read my stories and said how deeply she was moved by my performing and asked me not to stop but continue writing. She was that close to start crying and I tried to calm her down by promising to write a story with a truly happy ending. I kept my promise and wrote a hilarious story which I now one of my favourite.
— Could you please share how you write your stories, does it happen in stages thus taking certain amount of time, or like a flashlight in a few minutes?
— The latter, I mean it’s more like a spark in my mind. During the day I get a lot of information of all sorts from various sources and then all of it just mix, and here it is. I get an idea and usually can’t stop writing. At that moment I truly do not know how the story will end, till the very end usually. And here comes the most interesting – all of my stories have the same in common – their end is unpredictable and unexpected, the reader never knows hot it all is going to end. Isn’t that amazing?!
— Who is your role model in terms of writing similar stories or reading them in front of the audience, if you have such, and could you tell more about that?
— I am not sure I can name. When I am on the stage I feel that I am a different person, not like me myself. Someone totally different, intriguing, mysterious, which is not true about me in real life. Performing on the stage in front of the audience gives you a perfect chance to be a different person.
— What was your childhood dream, is it somehow connected to your profession and writing stories these days?
— I wanted to be rich and famous. No matter who, but how mattered and still does. Back in the 90s there weren’t many opportunities, well, not as many as now, I’d say. And I realized that the only chance for me then a provincial, shy and introvert girl was to study and do that really well. So I entered the university and started learning English which provided me with more knowledge and brought terrific chances into my life, and I am still grateful! When you know English you can meet interesting people, see a lot, travel widely and have the unlimited access to information. Can anything else be desired more? I doubt. So first, I became an English teacher and then a well-known English expert. In addition, writing has made me a bit but famous in the creative sphere of our capital. I can’t say that my dream has already come true and I have a lot of time ahead. I am absolutely positive about that.
— Do you have any hobbies, are they about your present professional and academic activity?
— I am really boring on this account. You see, I don’t have a particular hobby, I am not very sporty as well, that’s true. I love collecting postcards which I buy when I travel or my friends and students present me as souvenirs. So this hobby is that way or another is connected with my professional activity. As for the academic one, I love media linguistics as it studies the internet and its impact on the users. That can sound rather boring I know, but I’m deeply involved into this area of language study.
— What is your mission, did you explore that topic?
— I consider myself to be a really lucky person as I clearly defined my mission long time ago. To be exact, when I realized how much I really love teaching. That is the sense of my life, apart from the family, for sure. Teaching means making this world a better place each and every day. Every lesson I can see our students’ improvement however tiny it can seem. But taking into the account that these improvements are constant and growing rapidly I feel over the moon that my mission is being done. As for writing this is also a mission of a kind, as what I write brings people the hope for the better, gives the food for thought, makes them stop and think about really important things.
— Your desire as a young author concerning the development of literature movement in Kazakhstan?
— More events, more opportunities for performances. I was really amused when I learnt how many talented writers and poets there are in Astana, but not all of them know about the places they can perform at.
— What are your plans in writing? Do you have any idea to write poetry, for instance?
— We’ve spoken about my dreams. So, one of them is writing a novel. Not a huge one but a long story full of characters and their life stories. Let’s hope that one day I will succeed and present you my novel.
— Thank you for the interview! All the best in your creative work!
— Thank you for having me! It’s been a great pleasure to talk to you!
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