Two weeks ago, a journalist called me and said that he wanted to make an interview for a column in his paper. For the sake of the paper itself, I would not put the name (although, if you think about it, who would care, right? Unless Datin Seri Rosmah sues you for something wrongly put, most of the time people go, "Nehhh, whatever.").
He said it would be better if he just emailed the question and I just answer it. I think that would be better because he can just read my answers and then there will be no misunderstanding or misquoting. I mean the danger of face to face interview is that you may hear it wrong. So email is the best way. Or so I think and I regret it later.
Before I continue, let me tell you no matter how inefficient I was during my days in CO, I indeed have interviewed people like Zul Huzaimy, Zarina AF, Ahmad Idham, Saiful Apek, Singaporean director Wee Li Lin, Malaysian indie director Yeo Joon Han, and Shashi Tharan. So let me tell you, I know how a journalist works - the differences in writing in perspective, expanding a small comment into longer conversations, and just plain writing recklessly.
But anyways, today (Sunday 31/10/2010) I was reading the paper and you should have seen the look on my face, when I reread what I have written to him. The whole interview - the questions - that he gave me was turned into a summary, which is of course normal, except the fact that he twisted it into something that is soooo wrong that I felt like going to that media office and kick his ass.
Here's certain stuff he wrote:
"...Nurul Syahida Kamarudin, 27, minat menulis novel setelah mendengar cerita dongeng yang membosankan dari ibunya, Latipah Abdul Wahab. Ibunya suka bercerita kepadanya dan adik-adik yang lain, kadang-kadang menokok jalan cerita sedangkan mereka mengetahui sudah tersasar dari tema sebenarnya. Mana tidaknya, cerita Batu Belah Batu Bertangkup menjadi cerita seram dan kadang-kadang bersyair seperti Hindustan semata-mata mahu anak-anaknya melelapkan mata."
Here I give you the actual thing that I wrote (since it is through email, I can always refer to it again):-
Saya suka menulis sejak sekolah rendah lagi. Dari kecil ibu saya, Puan Latipah Abdul Wahab suka bercerita, adakalanya dia menambah-nambah jalan cerita apabila dia merasakan pengakhiran sesebuah kisah dongeng itu membosankan. Kami akan berkumpul di dalam bilik dan mendengar ibu saya mengubah cerita cerita Batu Belah Batu Bertangkup menjadi cerita seram atau bersyair agar kami tidur.
Now, I was saying that my mum turns boring fairy tales and folk tales into interesting stories. The writer wrote it and saying as if I said my mum bores me with her story and some kind of a Hindustan daydreaming lover who embarrases her kids with her imagination and Hindi syair. By the way, Hindi syair is poetry. Syair melayu is syair melayu, dumbass.
"Begitu juga dalam novel Plain Jane yang diterbitkan pada 2008 - mengisahkan protagonis yang cantik dan hodoh, kemudian menjadi cantik melalui watak Balkis - gadis yang hodoh, tidak cantik, tidak pandai, tidak miskin dan tidak kaya. Sebagai gadis yang berasal dari kelas pertengahan, Balkis digilai oleh Zaniel yang kacak dan kaya."
The actual thing that I sent him was;-
Saya menulis “Plain Jane” (2008) sebagai satu usikan terhadap kisah yang sedia ada di pasaran yang banyak mengagungkan protagonis yang cantik atau protagonis yang hodoh (yang akhirnya menjadi cantik). Maka saya jadikan Balkis seorang gadis yang biasa - tidak cantik, tidak hodoh, tidak pandai, tidak bodoh, tidak miskin tetapi tidak kaya. Dia merupakan gadis biasa - gadis kelas pertengahan yang tidak mahu hidup dalam kesederhanaan dan mahu keterujaan seperti para heroin karya Jane Austen. Dia sangka apabila dia dipertemukan dengan Zaniel yang kacak dan kaya-raya, hidupnya akan seindah mana-mana novel cinta. Ia satu percubaan saya untuk menyampaikan kepada umum, “Jangan berangan!” Haha.
First of all, what kind of wording arrangement is that? Second, when I wrote it, I am saying that this is my social observation towards reading behaviour, the kind of people who reads novel and why I think it's a shame that nobody writes a story about normal people with normal issues when most of us are not living in dramatic life where prince charming sweeps you off your feet and every heroine is beautiful and have so many admirers. He puts it in a way that is saying I wrote a story about an ugly girl who attracted a rich handsome guy. It sounds soooo cheesy and soooo.... I don't write for people to daydream, man. I am waking them up from that. Stupid stupid stupid.
"Kini Syahida sedang giat menghasilkan novel berjudul Hari Memperingati Kekasih yang mengisahkan tentang dunia kehidupan remaja di asrama."
This is the funniest, because this is what I actually wrote him;-
Novel saya yang seterusnya sedang diusahakan. Kali ini saya berniat untuk mengusik pembaca tentang obsesi Hari Memperingati Kekasih. Harapnya ia akan dapat dilancarkan tahun hadapan, insya Allah. Saya juga sedang cuba menulis novel remaja tentang kehidupan di asrama tetapi butirnya masih tidak dapat diberitahu lagi.
I mean, there are two things that I was saying as above. A chic lit, and a teen stuff. How stupid can you be if you think I am currently writing a novel entitled "Hari Memperingati Kekasih" about a bunch of teenagers in hostel? What kind of lame title is that, anyway?
Look, have you ever heard of a defamation suit? Ever heard of libel suit? Someone can sue you for reckless disregards of truth. For example, instead of introducing me to readers (or "bagi publisiti" as he kept yapping to all novelists), the writer succesfully wrote me into a kind of person who bash her own mother in an newspaper for being 'boring' (I will never forgive him for writing it like that), a lame cheesy writer with a corny title and who wrote daydreaming fantastical novels about rich guys and ugly girls and Cinderelical storylines when the truth is, she went into this industry trying to be otherwise.
You're defaming my character. That's what it is. And if you did that in the US, you are soooo going to get sued. I am just saying this as a reminder to writers out there to be careful of stuff like this. This is just a little thing, I am just writing this not to whine about people mistaking me for something else, but I am writing this in a perspective - IF YOU ARE RECKLESS WITH YOUR INFORMATION THAT MAY ALTER SOMEONE'S PERSONALITY AND MAY CAUSE SLANDER, IT IS A CRIME. This, to me is just recklessness - and you are being disrespectful to me.
Read your Acts before you write.