Interview with Sharon Syriac

What is this story about?
Trash is a short story written in journal form by an illiterate woman as she tells her tale of exploitation within her South Pacific cultural context.
What inspired you to write this story?
Some of the events in Trash were fictionalized but much of it was told to me by a young native girl who lived in the South Pacific island of Papua New Guinea who shared her personal experience with me during my 10-year stay in her country. I wrote the story partially to record her tale but also to give shape and meaning to an experience I had come to share vicariously.
Who are the primary readers of your story?
The primary readers of this short story are women.
How long did it take to write it?
While it only took me 8 hours to write Trash, it took several months for the story to be narrated as the speaker unravelled her tale. I creatively pieced the events together in the story and spent about two years re-writing bits and pieces.
How did you come up with the title?
The title emerged naturally from the theme of dominance and subordination that was consistently a part of this young woman’s relationship. While I interpreted her experience in terms of sexual, cultural and economic dominance, she herself did not necessarily see her relationship in that way and between us the word “trash” never occurred. Yet the trash motif and its reversal persisted in my imagination as the story unravelled.
Why did you choose this cover?
The cover of a faceless woman kneeling on the ground and pulling at her hair are all actions consistent with trauma and submission but these very actions are also indicative of a hidden strength. A woman’s hair, her source of beauty and strength is what the woman holds unto and even as it shields her face, she remains crouched, as if about to spring forward, she stoops to conquer.
What was the hardest part of writing your story?
The hardest part of writing this story was trying to find the language to express what an illiterate woman might make of a language (English) that is not her own native language. As a non-native English speaker, the protagonist had to express herself using the language she knows best, a Neo-Melanasian pidgin language which I incorporated in her journal in her attempt at self-expression. In addition, the images used in her journal are consistent with that of the South Pacific and I had to ‘translate’ the images in my own head from her perspective given the limitations of language.
Did you do research for your story? What did that involve?
Since this story was partially based on a personal experience and I had been living in that culture for ten years, I didn’t need to do much research.
Did you learn anything from writing your story and what was it?
In writing Trash, I learnt to experiment with the epistolary style (journal form) which was new and different to my other writing styles. I also learnt that everyone has a story, even those who seem uneducated, dull and ignorant and as a writer, I have a moral obligation to give voice to those who may lack the tools of mastery over language, structure and form with which to share their stories.
What do you want to say to your readers?
I want to tell readers that while exploitation takes different forms and dominance is its subtle partner, there will never be peace on earth until such exploitation in all its forms is eradicated, dominance is exposed and justice is restored. Indeed, there can be no peace in the absence of justice.
Published 2013-08-29.
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Books by This Author

Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 3,560. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Feminist, Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general
Trash is a short story written in journal form by an illiterate woman as she tells her tale of exploitation within her South Pacific cultural context.