Indian Ocean Mentoring Project – An Interview with Raihanaty A. Jalil

The Indian Ocean Mentoring Project  is an extension of our incredibly successful mentoring program undertaken two years ago for early and emerging writers of African heritage. This second mentoring program is focused on early and emerging writers who are permanent residents or Australian citizens of Indian Ocean heritage living in WA. The Indian Ocean Rim countries are: Bangladesh, Union of Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In this series of interviews, we uncover the inner worlds of these budding writers, focusing on their connection to the Indian Ocean region, their motivation for writing and the authors that inspire them. 

Raihanaty A. Jalil is an avid Jane Austen reader who spent her childhood lost in her vivid imagination, playing out characters from different stories in her backyard. She considers herself to be a jack of all trades, and has led a very interesting life, taking on a variety of different roles as poet, high-school teacher, rapper and speaker.

Born in Malaysia to Indonesian parents, Raihanaty moved to Australia before the age of 3, and believes that sharing her writing with others, is akin to sharing a part of her soul.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a ‘jack of all trades’ – over the years, I have been known as a high school teacher, a trader, hoon, poet, rapper, trainer and speaker. But I aspire to be a ‘master of one’ – writing continues to remain a passion that is underlying, and like water, forever quenches the thirst of my eclectic spirit.

What is your connection to the Indian Ocean region?

I’ve lived in Australia since I was three years old, but I was born in Malaysia to Indonesian parents, who come from the province of Banda Aceh in the island of Sumatra. 

When did you get interested in writing or when did you realise you had a passion for writing 

I’ve had a passion for stories and writing since my childhood. I’ve been writing poetry and short stories from my Primary School years, but I’ve also recently dabbled in novel writing. Even before I learnt how to write ‘properly’, to amuse myself as a child, I remember often being in our backyard, imagining playing different characters in my own dramatic stories.

What are you hoping to get out of this mentorship?  

Although writing has always been something I’ve loved, the fear of sharing these pieces of my soul and potentially being judged caused me to avoid the ‘formal study’ of writing throughout my life—instead, completing a Bachelor of Education and Science! So what I especially value about this mentorship is the opportunity to get constructive feedback on my writing and further develop my craft in a ‘safe’ environment. 

Who are some of your favourite writers/books? 

My favourite author of all time is Jane Austen. I’ve read all her books and love each one passionately for their unique elements, but if I had to pick my favourites, I would say, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Persuasion’. 

Photo: Zal Kanga-Parabia

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