Lon Kirkop | Interpretations of my works are uniquely gratifying

Maltese writer Lon Kirkop, winner in the drama category with his collection of short plays, 'Fil-Ħajja li Jmiss u Drammi Oħra tat-Triq' as well as the best emergent author award, spoke to LAURA CALLEJA on how the positive feedback he received encouraged him to continue writing

Lon Kirkop
Lon Kirkop

Could you tell us about your trajectory as a writer or researcher?

Since I was young, I've always had a passion for writing and sharing my stories. In my late teens, I began writing plays due to my theatre background, finding comfort in a genre I was familiar with. Unfortunately, at that time, I didn't have the opportunity to share my work, which led me to stop writing altogether and focus on other pursuits. Years later, my brother Clint encouraged me to write short plays for the Cospicua Short Play Festival. Despite my doubts about my abilities, I wrote three plays for that year’s edition, one of which won the Best Writing Award.

This win, along with the positive feedback I received, gave me the courage to focus more on writing. Subsequently, I wrote my first novel, "Mitt Elf Isem Ieħor: HappyVeganGirlJules," which won the Konkors ta’ Kitba Letteratura għaż-Żgħażagħ organized by Aġenżija Żagħżagħ and the National Book Council and was later published by Merlin Publishers. Additionally, Merlin Publishers published my collection of five plays titled "Fil-Ħajja Li Jmiss u Drammi Oħra tat-Triq" in 2022, which won the Drama Category in the National Book Award. During the ceremony, I was also honoured with the Best Upcoming Author award.

What was the process of crafting your award-winning book like?

The writing process for me always follows the same formula. I draw inspiration from my personal experiences and things that deeply interest me. Research is also a crucial part of my process. Furthermore, I believe in experimenting with both narrative and style. Feedback plays a vital role, and I enjoy the editing process as it allows me to refine my writing and grow as an author.

How did it feel to win the National Book Prize in 2023?

Winning the National Book Prize was always a dream of mine, so winning two Prizes on the same night felt surreal. I don't write with the intention of winning awards; I write because I feel compelled to share my stories. However, being recognized with these awards means a great deal to me and reinforces my determination to continue writing.

Who are some of your favourite Maltese authors working today?

This is a challenging question to answer because Malta is blessed with many talented authors whom I deeply admire. Some of them include Trevor Żahra, Leanne Ellul, Claire Azzopardi, Immanuel Mifsud, Antoinette Borg, and Klara Vassallo.

What you feel is particularly compelling about writing for the stage, when compared to other literary genres you also engage in?

One of the most rewarding aspects of writing for the stage is that the experience doesn't end with writing; I am actively involved in the production of my plays. Seeing my work interpreted by others is a uniquely gratifying experience.

What’s next for you?

I have many exciting projects ahead, including more writing, artwork, and musical endeavours. Alongside writing plays and books, I am also a visual artist and a singer-songwriter. I am currently finalizing my upcoming publication, which will consist of a collection of short stories.

READ ALSO: Rita Saliba | The challenges of micro fiction as a genre

In collaboration with the National Book Council, MaltaToday will be interviewing the winners of the 2023 National Book Prize and Terramaxka Prize for children and young adults. More information regarding the awards can be found at ktieb.org.mt/