PETALING JAYA, Sept 11 ― Malaysian author Hanna Alkaf’s second fiction The Girl and the Ghost is a finalist for the American Kirkus Prize under the Young Reader's Literature category.
Earlier this year, Hanna made waves in the Malaysian literary scene when her debut novel The Weight of Our Sky bagged the Freeman Book Awards for the Young Adult/High School Literature category.
According to Hanna, The Girl and the Ghost is a story about a little girl who inherits a dark spirit from a grandmother she never knew and turns it into a friend and companion she never had.
“It’s a story about friendship, growing up and growing apart, and about all the different ways that people can be haunted.
“The Girl and the Ghost also happens to be my first foray into middle grade fiction which means it’s for kids aged eight to 12, but that doesn’t mean other people can’t enjoy it too.”
HELLO. HI. I HAVE NEWS.— Hanna Alkaf (@yesitshanna) September 9, 2020
THE GIRL & THE GHOST is a 2020 Kirkus Prize Finalist! https://t.co/jvmsknbl5z
As to what inspired her to write her second book, Hanna said that she had always been a fan of horror stories and has always been fascinated by the idea of saka, that is the idea of inherited ghosts.
“And that was why I decided to mesh that concept with the imaginary friend or fairy godmother type tropes that appears frequently in Western fiction.”
Hanna also told Malay Mail that while she was excited about her books being selected as a finalist for the American award, the concept of awards shouldn’t solely define anyone including herself as a writer.
“One needs to remember who they are telling these stories for and to stay true to themselves and their audience.
“And that’s what I will continue to do whether it comes with this type of recognition or not.”
She added that people should read The Girl and the Ghost if they are looking to send a shiver or two down their spines and if they want to laugh and cry in the span of one story.