12 Curly Questions with author Sarah Ayoub

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I desperately want to be a green thumb, but alas I kill every plant – even the succulents – I acquire.

2. What is your nickname?
Lemon – as in ‘dud’ or ‘be careful buying a second-hand car because you might get a lemon’. My sister gave it to me because for someone who looks smart on paper, I am not very bright in real life. I love it.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Seagulls and pigeons swooping and flapping around me. I’ve always been afraid of birds, but I’m traumatised by an episode of Round the Twist, and, more recently, a pigeon eating off my plate at an outdoor cafe.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Partial to fanciful, flawed characters, hungry and full of heart.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Passionate, frenzied, hard-working, simple, curious.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I loved Claudia Kishi in The BabySitters Club books. Claudia was incredibly close with her Japanese grandmother, had her own phone line, was a great artist, could put together amazing outfits (and was ahead of her time buying second-hand) and despite having so many different types of snacks stashed around her room, she had perfect skin.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
This is a really hard question because I’ve always felt like I was made for a different time. Maybe the 1920s because there was a post-war zest for life in the air. Women were embracing new clothes, new hairdos, the right to vote and they’d just proven they could work and raise their families while the men were at war.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
You should have stashed more packets of BBQ Ruffles. I keep hoping they’ll make a comeback, like Toobs.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
Jesus is a lot of things to many people and not much of anything to others, but I think his teachings are pretty timeless. I really appreciate philosophies that include loving other people as I would want to be loved, knowing my place in this big, wide world, and not being anxious about tomorrow, but instead living wholly in the moment (the last one’s really tricky for me!)

10. What/who made you start writing?
There was a time in my late teens where I felt very lonely and misunderstood, which is totally normal for that period in life. It wasn’t like today, where we had so many streaming services or ways to connect with friends. I started writing to escape my own world and found the characters I got to write about to be a pleasant distraction. Now I write if I need to get something off my chest, or if I need to understand something a bit more clearly.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Belligerent. It’s just a very fun way to say hostile or aggressive. I love the way the syllables fall off the tongue. I am yet to put it in one of my stories.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys. I love the way that it reminds us that being clever can look different to so many people, and that using our talents and embracing our hobbies is the smartest thing we can do. I gift it to all my friends and their kids. 

Sarah Ayoub is a journalist, bestselling author and academic with a PhD in migrant Australian YA literature. Her work has been published in The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin and more. Sarah is a Stella Schools Program ambassador, has mentored the youth curators of The Sydney Writers’ Festival YA program, contributed to the anthology Arab, Australian, Other: Stories on Race and Identity and most recently been a judge for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Sarah was elected to the board of the Australian Society of Authors in 2021 and is currently working on her first novel for adults as the writer-in-residence of Sweatshop Literacy Movement. For more information, see www.sarahayoub.com.

July 26, 2022 at 12:47AM Penny Harrison