By Luna Erica
Meet Annie: A writer and student from China, who moved to Malta when she was eight years old. There, she became fascinated by books – first reading and then writing them. She hopes to continue telling her stories in the future, discovering what else she can magic up with her mind.
Annie was quick to pick up English, a language she didn’t speak at all when her family first arrived in Malta. “The first book I read was an Enid Blyton book. I loved reading the words and then realizing they actually made sense. That was one of the most significant moments – from then onwards, I wouldn’t stop reading books.”
It came to the point where Annie’s parents had to ban her from reading for more than a certain number of hours per day because there was no end to it. After that little intervention, though, Annie found a loophole: “They said I wasn’t allowed to read, but they hadn’t said anything about writing!” And so Annie found a whole new fascination to be engulfed in.
Meanwhile, this ambitious student was picking up languages left and right. Coming to Malta, she admits, was a huge cultural shock for her. “The food tasted different, the people looked different, and I could not understand anything they said at all!” With a lot of help from friends and with a lot of work, she understood the culture over time. Her new lingual abilities now range from English to French, German and Maltese.
It comes as no shock, then, that along with Annie’s passion came a drive to work hard. In school, Annie would spend ten (yes, 10) hours a day studying to get the perfect grade. Laughingly, she adds that “towards the end, it drove [her] a little bit bonkers.”
Ultimately, though, there is one thing that drove her onto our radars as a winner: In telling her stories, Annie carried us away with not only her beautiful prose and unusual story ideas but also her enthusiasm upon telling them. Where she had been shy in the beginning of her interview, you could tell that the second Annie starts talking about books, she beams.
Her stories went from horror to fairytale and everything in between; and when we asked her about the topics, she flung herself into a ten-minute explanation and knew every line of each story by heart, phrasing them all with eloquence and a big smile on her face. Our transcriber was so engaged in listening that she stopped transcribing; everyone was silent with awe and concentration as this young writer’s narrative sped forward.
With her words, Annie convinced us that she was a winner. Now, with her prize, Annie will move to Scotland to study a Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. There, she will write on, allowing people to be transported to her worlds as her books transport through ours.