Rahel Asghedom is author of Colourful Stories and Some Sweetly Kept Thoughts, published by Hdri Publishers, both a collection of poetry and the short stories. Rahel has recently written her first novel – Before She Breaks My Heart. Here, she tells Huriy Ghirmai about the joy of reading and writing, childhood influences and future projects.
-Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Asmara and my love for Asmara gets renewed every single day. I am currently teaching literature and language, and doing work related to literature. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest because I get paid to do what I love doing the most.
-How much would you say your upbringing, and particularly your parents, contributed to the making you a writer?
My mother raised me, my father died when I was young and her strength still keeps me going on. My mom believes in education and made sure we were serious at school. We had everything we needed as far as school materials were concerned. Our minds were free to imagine anything they liked.
-It’s been said that there is a book in each and every one of us and the only secret is to discover the writer in you. When did you discover the writer in you?
I remember reading some of Dr. Seuss’ books, stories from the Bible, some picture books. And then Charles Dickens books, the Bronte sisters etc. That gave way to me keeping my thoughts in writing and trying to express my ideas in the same manner.
In time, I began to realize how easier it was for me to express myself in writing than in speaking. I began to take it seriously when I joined the university in 1994; I decided it was time I chose to join the Department of English.
I love reading. The first prerequisite for becoming a writer is reading. One has to read to write. A writer who claims to write but doesn’t read only deceives himself/herself.
-How about the joys – or challenges if any – of the process of writing a book from the point of conception to the confining of the last line?
Writing is definitely a painful process. Before’ She Breaks My Heart’ is just my first novel, but as a writer, you don’t get to feel satisfied and happy unless you go through the painful process of writing. I am lucky I was discovered by Ato Zemhret Yohannes who encouraged me from early days.
-Before your latest novel, “Before She Breaks My Heart” you wrote two books (of poetry and a collection of short stories) ‘Colorful Stories’ and ‘Some Sweetly Kept Thoughts’ – both published by Hdri Publishers. What would you say are the different challenges that different literary forms present? Was the transition a happy one or was it marked by difficulty?
Personally, I prefer writing novels, and that’s what I would like to focus on in the future. Writing novels gives me more opportunity to write freely and express my ideas by creating characters and letting them involve in different events. Short stories tend to limit things. One needs to image evoking language in writing poems and I am not sure if I am that good in creating strong images in writing poems.
-What is your view of the current state of Eritrean literature? Are there any writers or trends that stand out?
Over the years, I would say more writers are appearing in Eritrea. Personally, I read Alemseghed Tesfay and find his writings very inspiring. His writings show a real writer at work. Many people admire Beyene Haile’s writings as well. There are many young writers who attempt writing and seem to be doing better in time.
-Will we be seeing more of your writing in the near future?
I am working on picture books for children and I find that very refreshing. I began working on this project after I got married and began entertaining the idea of having children. Our children need books to read or be read to them; books that take our culture and background into consideration.