Antoinette Borg: Life is short. Keep chasing ‘one day’ and it might never come

Author Antoinette Borg tells all in our Q&A

Antoinette Borg. Photo: James Bianchi
Antoinette Borg. Photo: James Bianchi

Five years ago Antoinette Borg left her 20-year business advisory career to pursue her passion for writing. In 2016 she published her first novel, Fittixni, which went on to win the National Book Prize in the adolescents category. Her second YA novel (Ri)ġenerazzjoni won the Literary Contest of Novels for Youth, and her third one, Amina, won her the National Book Prize again. Meanwhile she co-authored Innuendo, a collection of short stories for adults, and wrote, and adapted into Maltese, several children’s books. Antoinette received the National Book Council’s Best Emerging Author award for 2018

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I thank my husband for the cup of tea on my bedside table.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Whatever you set out to do, make sure you do it well. In its original version, quoting my dad, “Jew sewwa, jew xejn.”

What do you never leave the house without?

A year ago I would have said a book. Now it’s a face mask.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Word-lover, wonderer, work-in-progress.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Fulfilling (eleven times over, and counting) my childhood dream of seeing my name on the spine of a book.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Curling up with a cup of tea and a book when I should be doing something else.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Life is short, and if you keep chasing “one day”, it might never come. If you really want to do something, drop everything and do it.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

A brand new piano, bought under the illusion that our young son’s initial enthusiasm for music was there to stay. It wasn’t. Our next born daughter wasn’t interested either. The piano is still in our living room, attracting dust and waiting for its Godot.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

That bigilla is much more tasty than it looks.

Who’s your inspiration?

My late grandmothers. One had grit, bucketloads of it. The other laughed a lot.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Leaving my solid 20-year career to try and make something out of my childhood dream.

If you weren’t a writer/translator what would you be doing?      

When I wasn’t a writer/translator, I was actually an accountant/business advisor. So if I weren’t a writer/translator, I would still be doing that. Or maybe not.

Do you believe in God?

Yes, I believe in love.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

My daddy who’s been gone ten years now. The menu would include split pea soup, the last thing we ate together a couple of days before his sudden death. He said it was delicious, and I promised I’d make it for him again.

What’s your worst habit?

Biting my fingernails.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I have no idea.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Angelina Jolie. She looks exactly like me in the dark.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

The toxic cocktail of being judgemental and happily ignorant.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

My favourite song ever is ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield. I’m not sure if it would be totally appropriate at my funeral but I would love its lyrics to be my final message to my loved ones: “Live your life with eyes wide open, today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten...”

What is your most treasured material possession?

Need you ask? My books, obviously.

What is your earliest memory?

Being in a strange room, sitting on a small cartoon-character chair, nursing a painful throat, and being forced to eat jelly – my tonsils had just been removed. I was about 3 years old.

When did you last cry, and why?

I don’t remember the last one, but I remember the worst one. At my dad’s funeral. We never got to say goodbye.

Who would you most like to meet?

Margaret Atwood.

What’s your favourite food?

Pasta.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

I don’t like “persons on social media”. I prefer real persons.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Malta in the time of the Knights.

What book are you reading right now?

‘L-Ahhar Sajf ta’ Berlin’ by Federico Buffa and Paolo Frusca, brilliantly adapted into Maltese by Mark Vella.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I love to read anything. Reading people’s minds as well would be cool.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Write a really good book.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

The signature tune of ‘Horrible Histories’. (Over the last months my 9-year-old daughter has been hooked on this series and enthusiastically absorbing an incredible wealth of general knowledge. It’s amazing what happens when you make learning fun.)

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I listen to my thoughts and let my imagination sing along.

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