I fell in love with the blog Diary of a Guji Girl whilst working far away doing rural placements as a Medical Student. When I got back and heard about the launch of the much awaited book Diary of a Guji Girl - I was so excited and knew I needed to get in touch with Author Qaanitah Hunter, a woman not only making waves with her sensational novel, but changing the world as one of South Africa's leading journalist.
◆ As a passionate political Journalist and not simply just the Author of Diary of a Guji Girl, tell us about the challenges of being torn in between such a vast extreme of identities?
Being a political journalist and writer Diary of a Guji Girl is somewhat the same yet different. Both “identities” or roles include the one thing that I love most which is writing although the subject matter is contrasting.
I have always had a love for telling stories in general so both facets satisfy this passion. Suffice to say, politics is my serious life and punchaat (i.e. Diary of a Guji Girl) is for off time. As much as I love writing for a national newspaper, it doesn’t give me a platform to let out my thoughts or ideas creatively and so I channel my creativity and (a little) humor in the blog.
◆ How has writing Diary of a Guji Girl changed your life? We hear of people stopping you in malls and pinging you for the next part of the story?
The response to Diary of a Guji Girl remains overwhelming. Every day I am fascinated at the amount of people that take out time in their day to read my unfiltered crazy thoughts. More and more people have come to know about me which, I got to admit, is a little scary, and yes, a few people have demanded in public that I post the next entry immediately.
◆ This story is not a reflection of you. Tell us something about the real you, that you would love your fans to know?
This story is anything but a reflection of who I am. I could never be more different than the protagonist Amina. I am just a 20 year old girl who has studied to become an Aalima, now furthering a degree in politics and communication, working as a political reporter and reads political books for fun. I also have a passion for the Arabic language, I thrive on adrenaline but also am just trying to find myself. Oh, and most importantly I am not a Guji. (Don’t ask what I am, because I don’t quite know.)
◆ What inspired you to write Diary of a Guji Girl?
Honestly, I wasn’t really inspired to write Guji Girl. I just thought it would be a funny and crazy way to express thoughts and ideas. Like I said before, I never dreamed of it getting as popular as it did. Hence I am very grateful.
◆ Are your characters drawn from people you know in real life and names changed or are they purely fictional created from scratch based on no one in particular?
My characters are not based on an individual but a collective of people that I’ve interacted with. I try to paint a very standard- or boring- picture of the characters so that it somehow resonates with all readers. I’ve heard dozens of girls saying they are exactly like Amina or know someone exactly like Moe etc. So essentially, characters are drawn out of a stereotype but inspired by people I have come across.
◆ You capture the stereotypical ‘gujrati mentality’ and the effect of how city life affects ‘farm girls’ so perfectly and so easily, do you set aside great thought and research into your story or do you just purely write from your experience?
My line of work and type of personality affords me the opportunity to meet and interact with several people. So my observations of different cultures gives me a buffet of ideas to pick from. I do ask a few Guji friends for insight in to certain practices like the marriage ceremony etc and if I ever go to places like Fordsburg or Laudium I regard it as ‘field trips’. Okay, not really. I go to Fordsburg because I have a severe choria addiction.
◆Any plans to take it further into a novel? Or will you always keep it on the site?
I was actually thinking of making it the new Guji version of Archie Comics. Can you imagine Amina to be Betty or Veronica?
Okay, jokes aside. I was very averse to the idea of turning the blog into a novel mainly because it could probably be the worst form of writing I’ve ever penned. Guji Girl’s not an elaborate literary miracle like your Jane Austins, rather it is literally an expression of a young girl’s thoughts.
But a lot of people have encouraged me that there is a space for a novel appealing to young Muslim girls. I am still mulling on the idea. If there would be any earth shattering developments, it would probably be after next year’s elections.
◆ What’s your vision for the future?
I am planning on giving up my job, moving to the Bahamas and dedicating my life to the blog.
I am kidding. That would never happen.
My vision is to continue the blog until it becomes boring to write. At the end of the day, it is a fun outlet for me and I don’t want to lose that.
Also, maybe it will continue until a book is published. Oh how I wish I could sneak a peek into my Taqdeer.
◆ Finally...Do you have any message for your fans?
I don’t quite like the word “fans”. Harry Potter has fans, people just read my work. Does that make any sense?
But my message to my readers would be- whatever you do – do not equate Diary of a Guji Girl to Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight. Please. Diary of a Guji Girl has way more typos and isn’t a pathetic love story. I rather have it be a pathetic curry making story.
Okay. On a REAL serious note; I appreciate the support and encouragement. I hope the story would serve as a means of introspection to all and more importantly give you something to chuckle about.
Thank You Qaanitah for this awesome interview!
Since this interview, the Diary of a Guji Girl has become a sensational novel.
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