Malaysian tween writer sets out to help Nepalese kids

Natassha Shievanie says that if it wasn’t for the encouragement her parents gave her, her book would not have materialised – so she calls on all parents to encourage their children’s dreams and support their talents.

To say that she's the next big thing in the literary world would be stretching it too far. But make no mistake: she is already on the path to greatness. True, it may take the next decade or so, but her foot is already firmly planted on the right path.

Her first book, a series of short stories featuring wayward wizards, mischievous elves and witty animals, has already been published and her second book, written in the format of a diary, is in the pipeline. Of course, like any other author, her desire is to share her creation with the world so her stories can be marvelled at and talked about - but Natassha Shievanie also has another desire, and a noble one at that: To help fund the education of Nepalese girls through the sales of her book, Wizard Willy & The Lonely Heart And Other Magical Tales. And she's just 11 years old!

Natassha shared in a recent interview that when she learned about the plight of Nepalese girls from her parents, she took it upon herself to rise to their aid.

"My parents have been to Nepal and they told me that the girls there don't have a chance to go to school, they don't have a chance to get an education. So, as a girl who goes to school, I realised how lucky I am and I felt very sad about these girls and wanted to help them," Natassha says.

The Year Five student has examined the issue thoroughly, telling us knowledgeably that educating girls can empower them immensely and prevent future generations from living in the ubiquitous poverty that so many Nepalese are accustomed to.

"There are a lot of illiterate mothers, and mothers play an important role in bringing up their children. Mothers who can't read and write will affect their children badly because they may grow up to be illiterate as well," Natassha opines.

The ardent fan of works by children's authors such as Enid Blyton and Dame Jacqueline Wilson started writing when she was just six years old and hasn't stopped since. In the opening note of her book, Natassha quips, "On occasion, I have been barred from writing because I spent too much time at it and my studies were affected."

But the child writer kept her abilities a secret from her parents and at first resorted to penning her tales on scraps of paper.

"I started to think up stories in my mind and started writing them on bits of paper. But I never told my parents. But when I was nine, my parents found out and my dad told me to write books and let the world know my stories," she says.

Saying that writing brings her satisfaction and joy, Natassha explains that whenever she writes, she gets lost in her own fantasy world, that in fact, it is very easy for anyone to lose themselves in a land filled with wizards, kings and princesses, animals and goblins.

The first of the eight short stories in Wizard Willy & The Lonely Heart tells about a good wizard who becomes evil as his powers grow and he begins misusing his abilities. When he meets his comeuppance, a lesson about arrogance is conveyed.

Indeed, all eight stories are peopled with colourful and interesting characters and each imaginative tale is full of wonder. This writer's favourite story is the one featuring the famous Sang Kancil (mousedeer) in a story called King Of The Jungle in which the clever mousedeer reveals the hypocritical crocodile's true colours.

The little animal's wit and ingenuity is always dazzling to read about - and Natassha has added another facet to the diamond that is the mousedeer in Malaysian culture.

Natassha says that if it wasn't for the encouragement her parents gave her, her book would not have materialised so she calls on all parents to do the same with their children.

"Parents should explain to their kids about the importance of doing what they like," she says.

Her father, Roy Selvaraj, who was present at the interview, echoes her sentiments, saying that, "Parents play a very crucial role in raising their kids and they have to be interested in what their kids are doing, despite the busyness of life.

"They need to observe and develop a very good relationship with their kids, and find out where the child's talent lies. They need to find a way to inspire the kid and get them to do what they like to do," Selvaraj says.

Currently, Natassha's book can be purchased by contacting Selvaraj; Natassha, however, has an interesting idea to boost the sales of the books and help more Nepalese girls: "I want Tony Fernandez to allow my books to be sold through AirAsia so that more of those kids will have a chance to go to school," Natassha says.

So the next time you're flying AirAsia, don't be surprised if you see Wizard Willy & The Lonely Heart And Other Magical Tales on sale on board. You never know, you could kill three birds with one stone: sponsor a Nepalese girl's education, kill your boredom, and maybe, just maybe, get lost in the fantastical world created by a bright 11-year-old.

*To purchase Wizard Willy & The Lonely Heart And Other Magical Tales, contact Roy Selvaraj at 012-334 1248 or e-mail