Ruhaini Matdarin, Sabah's pride, prolific writer

'Jendela Menghadap Jalan' is currently used as a school textbook in Singapore.

KOTA KINABALU: Ruhaini Matdarin is one of Sabah's prolific writers, having produced more than 20 award-winning literary works in various genres.

The 36-year-old has won many literary writing awards involving the prestigious Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka (DBP), Hadiah Sastera Kumpulan Utusan, Sayembara ITBM-Pena-BH and Hadiah Menulis Kerajaan Negeri Sabah competitions.

A Universiti Sains Malaysia graduate in financial management, her first foray into novel writing was in 2007 when she produced Gadis Adikara, which later won one of the major prizes of the Sabah Literary Award.

The winning debut inspired her to produce several more research-based novels within six years from 2011 to 2016.

They are Waris Pejuang (2011), Dalam Getar Waktu and Kotak (2012), Cerita Perang Beriga (2013) and Ajal, a science fiction in 2016.

One of her award-winning collection of short stories entitled Melawan Yang Mustahil or Against All Odds was translated into English by ITBM last year.

Ruhaini, who is of Brunei-Bajau-Kadazan descent said she got into serious writing while she was a form six student in Sabah College in 1993.

"I read quite a lot of books at that time and that's when I cultivated my interest in book writing," she said in an interview with Bernama, adding that her favourite Malaysian author was Anwar Ridhwan, a novel laureate.

Despite having produced more than 20 books, plus another six waiting to be published, Ruhaini finds it very challenging to make writing a full time job.

"To be honest, selling books, whether they are award-winning work or not, is still hard. We have many budding writers in Sabah and this should be a very encouraging trend...but I believe they're also facing the same problem, that is finding a niche in marketing their work.

"Therefore, I was thinking that I should perhaps concentrate more on writing books with more exciting stories and which has strong potential for international readers," she said, adding that one of her literary works, Jendela Menghadap Jalan is currently used as a school textbook in Singapore. — Bernama