Singapore based writer Shamini Flint completed the happy trio of international guests at SheKilda. Once upon a time she was a corporate lawyer, but now keeps even busier as a writer, mum and, well, that's busy enough, isn't it, let alone chucking in the other things she does. She writes children's fiction and the Inspector Singh Investigates crime fiction series. The over-riding impression of Shamini at the festival was how very funny she is, make that hilarious. Her performance at the Davitt awards night was brilliant and immensely entertaining. Both she and Margie were great fun to be around.
I had the pleasure of being on the A World of Crime session with Shamini, and it was fascinating to see what makes her Inspector Singh tick. Where Margie Orford came from South Africa, which was rife with crime, Shamini lives in Singapore, as does her character, which she complained was ridiculously safe, and the biggest chance you had for getting arrested was for littering. But perceived safety aside, it was harder issues in many Asian countries she traveled to and worked in that compelled her to dig a little deeper into their histories and to embed her stories into the echoes of those. Her most recent book, A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree was prompted by her feeling bad about her lack of knowledge of the Khymer Rouge and Pol Pot regime. Writing was a constant learning process.
Inspector Singh as a character is fascinating, she created someone who was an outsider, a food loving, fat, sweaty Sikh in Singapore. This was an advantage for her as it meant his bosses were never sure quite what to do with him so took every opportunity to send him away somewhere else, hence his adventures in many Asian countries, and, of course, their cuisine.
Shamini's children's books were also selling well at SheKilda and I enjoyed listening to her talk about the rationale for writing them, her environmental books and in particular her Sasha series of picture books, which follow the travels of a little girl in many interesting and well known places around Asia. I learned a lot from Shamini, who is a great writer and a very savvy business woman to boot.
Shamini was also rugby mad, make that sports mad in general, so with a Rugby World Cup happening at the same time as SheKilda we were both getting plenty of score updates from our respective spouses, although Shamini may have missed a session or two to watch... Anyway, one of my favourite memories of SheKilda was sitting in the Rydges bar with Shamini, Margie and I barracking for South Africa in the quarter final against Australia surrounded by a room full of Aussies. We are brave women.