Dr. Aneeta Sundararaj

Aneeta Sundararaj created and developed this website. She is an award-winning short story writer. She is the recipient of  Trisha Ashley Award in 2022 and the 2022 H.E. Bates Short Story Prize. She was longlisted in the Bristol Short Story Prize in 2023 and nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2024.

Trained as a lawyer, Aneeta practised for five years before she decided to pursue her dream of writing. On her own, she created and developed this website and called it ‘How to Tell a Great Story’. The aim was to make it a resource for storytellers.

To date, she’s worked on several book projects such as, My Cholesterol Journey, Set Yourself Free, Knowledge of Life: Tales of an Ayurveda Practitioner in Malaysia, Ladoo Dog: Tales of a Sweet Dachshund, The Banana Leaf Men, Mad Heaven: Biography of Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. M. Mahadevan, etc.

Aneeta's writing has appeared in many magazines, ezines and journals. By contributing more than 250 feature articles to a national newspaper, New Straits Times, she has been fortunate enough to come into contact with people who have fascinating stories to tell. Many of them have enhanced her experiences and understanding of her home, Malaysia and she strives to share some of these stories. 

Aneeta’s most recent and bestselling novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets was shortlisted for the Anugerah Buku 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. Incidentally, The Legend of Nagakanna (an edited version of Chapter 9 in this novel) is published in an anthology called 'We Mark Your Memory: Writings from the Descendants of Indenture', School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with Commonwealth Writers, 2018. Meanwhile, Ammavasai (an edited version of Chapter 14 in this novel) is published in an anthology called 'Autumn Gales' by The Alcove Publishers, 2020.

Aneeta is also a proud Patron of Sutra Foundation and the Royal Society of Literature

Throughout, Aneeta continued to pursue her academic interests and, in 2021, successfully completed a doctoral thesis entitled ‘Management of Prosperity Among Artistes in Malaysia’ and was bestowed the award of 'Doctor of Philosophy (Management)' by SEGi University, Malaysia.  


Short Stories
– The Legend of Nagakanna – We Mark Your Memory: Writings from the Descendants of Indenture (2018)
Ammavasai – Autumn Gales by Alcove Publishers (2020)
The Divine At Work - LitGleam (June 2020)
Nuns and Roses - Asian Extracts (October 2020) 
The Legend of Nagakanna – Usawa Literary Review (2021)
Cheraiburi Chronicles Asian Extracts (April 2021)
The Flame - Longlisted in Exeter Literary Festival (September 2021)
A Gifted Life - Asian Extracts (October 2021)
– My Third Grandmother - Highly Commended in Glittery Literary (October 2021 - Glittery Literary Anthology Three)
Chakra Monsters - Longlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 14 (November 2021) 
Kupcake - Longlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 14 (November 2021)

2022
– Talking to Someone - Longlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 15 (January 2022)
– My Wonderful Family - Longlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 15 (January 2022)
– Someone To Talk To - Shortlisted in Glittery Literary (February 2022 - Glittery Literary Four)
My Goldie Dreaming - WINNING ENTRY in FemmeFluenza 2.0 (Out of my BOX II) by WriteFluence (March 2022)
- A Dead Handbag
A Touch of Pink - Inner Wheel District 330 Newsletter (Issue 4, April 2022)
Wonky Syntax - Shortlisted in WriteWords 22 - The Phare (April 2022)
- Taman - WINNING STORY WriteFluence Singles Season II (April 2022)
– Exactly Like That - Shortlisted / Honourable Mention in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 16 (April / July 2022)
- A Divine Embrace - Moss Puppy Magazine (2nd Issue) - Puppy Love (May 2022)
My Khandan - Full House Literary Magazine: Tarot Issue 2 (May 2022)
Metopia - Indian Periodical (May 2022)
- Meta & Verse - Shortlisted for The Write Time Anthology (May 2022)
- A Little Bird - WriteFluence - Mr. Rosewood Short Story (June 2022)
- Moonset at Angkor - Fahmidan Journal Issue 12 (June 2022)
- Lolita - The Minison Project, Issue 2 (June 2022)
- Visitation Rights - Livina Press Issue 1 (June 2022)
- A Forever Bond - Honey Guide Magazine (July 2022)
- Visitation Rights - Erato Magazine (July 2022)
- The Interlude - Story Nook (August 2022)
- Nuns & Roses - Spare Parts Lit (August 2022)
- Tapasya - Longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize 2022 (August 2022)
- Wonky Syntax - Secert Attic: September Results (October 2022)
- My Third Grandmother - Livina Press  Issue 2 (October 2022)
- Chum-One - Grave Mistakes: Halloween 2022 (Short Story Challenge Anthologies) (October 2022)
The Weathermen - A Love Letter - WINNER of the Trisha Ashley Award - The 2022 Exeter Story Prize (December 2022)
Blood - WINNING STORY The Open Theme Short Story Writing Contest for WriteFluence.com in December 2022 - published in the antholgy, 'Crimson' (January 2023) 

2023
- Ammachi, My Third Grandmother - Secret Attic Short Story Contest for December 2022 (3 January 2023)
- Ladoo Hugs - The Community Book Project: Celebrating 365 Days of Gratitude (10 January 2023)
My Beautiful Illusion - WINNER of the 2022 H. E. Bates Short Story Prize - The Northampton Writers’ Group (January 2023)
- Illusion - Livina Press: Issue 3 (January 2023)
The Weathermen - A Love Letter - The Paper Crow | Literary Journal | Issue 1 (17 February 2023)
– A Beautiful Moment - 'Honourable Mention' in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition (17 February 2023)
– Flower Child - Longlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 17 (February 2023)
– Soul Connection - WINNING STORY in FemmeFluenza 3 - WriteFluence (2 March 2023) - published in the antholgy, 'Of Heartbreak and Subdued Yearnings' (March 2023)
My Beautiful Illusion - Karma Comes Before: Issue 2 (19 March 2023)
Hello Yama! - Livina Press: Issue 4 Spring 2023 (16 April 2023)
- A Second Chance - Second Chances: A Short Story Anthology (27 April 2023)
– Convent Girl - WINNING STORY in Brouhaha - WriteFluence (10 June 2023)
- In the Shade of a Mango Tree - Usawa Literary Review (June 2023)
Hello Yama! - Usawa Literary Review (June 2023)
The Incredible Tragedy - Livina Press: Issue 5 Summer 2023 (16 July 2023)
Change the World - Longlisted for the 2023 Bristol Short Story Prize (19 July 2023)
- Thaipusam - Longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize 2023 (September 2023)
Night of the New Moon - Longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize 2023 (September 2023)
- My Final Tapasya - Longlisted in To Hull And Back Short Story Competition 2023 (September 2023)
- Night of the New Moon - Shortlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 18 (September 2023)
- A Sweet ObituaryTHIRD PRIZE in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 18 (September 2023)
Work of the Divine - The Hoogly Review (10 September 2023)
- Exchange Marriage - WINNING STORY - 'It Was A Queer, Sultry Summer', a resultant publication of the winning stories of our 'Sentence Expansion Extravaganza' contest (September 2023) 
- Sakshi - Programme Booklet from the 13th Malaysian International Conference on Holistic Healing in Cancer 2023 (17 September 2023)
Hello Yama - The Afterpast Review (27 September 2023)
- Unchartered Waters - Nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2024 - The Hooghly Review (October 2023)
- Nusantara Crimes - 'The Pathbreakers and Other Stories' by Sunway University Press (October 2023)
Sharing Is Caring - Longlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 19 (November 2023)
Point of No Return - Longlisted in Strands International Flash Fiction Competition 19 (November 2023)
- Say Hello To Yama - Shortlisted for Aesthetica's Creative Writing Award 2023 (November 2023)
Say Hello To Yama - Midsummer Dream House (December 2023) 

2024
Tapestry of the Mind - Livina Press: Issue 7 Winter 2023 (22 January 2024)
- Change - Porch LitMag (February 2024)
- Tapestry of the Mind - Editor's Choice - 2023 Hammond House International
Diamonds Are Forever - LitSphere (14 March 2024) 

Books

Below are some of the books (anthologies, biographies, novels and collections) that Aneeta has either worked on or had stories included in them.  Some of these books are no longer in print.

What's New

Sakshi

October 24, 2023

I have been in a state of ‘emotional unwell-being’ for seven years. There, I’ve said it. Why? Well, after my father died, I believed that if I reached out with love to ‘good friends’, counsellors, suitors, and relatives, there could be pockets of joy to offset my grief and loneliness, thereby maintaining my emotional well-being. Instead, I received repeated metaphorical slaps in the face. It’s quite something to observe them profess to want to heal people and publicly pontificate about compassion, empathy, kindness, gratitude and, wait for it, meditation and mindfulness, all the while being stunned by their need to…

The Creative Industry Needs to Look at Things Differently Post Budget 2022

November 03, 2021

On 29 October 2021, the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2022 in the Malaysian parliament. RM50 million has been allocated for the arts and culture industry. This comes after a year and a half after the entire industry came to an absolute standstill. With all the complaints, quibbles and arguments that are being put forward, there is one that hasn’t been analysed until now: things may not be as hopeless as it is made out. It starts with the basic premise that we already have frameworks in place to help artistes thrive, but none…

Chaos of Whole Books

May 19, 2021

Is it possible to read several books at once? Aneeta Sundararaj finds out. When I was a child, my cousin used to boast that he could read four storybooks at a time. As an adult, when he invested in an e-Reader, he continued to boast that he could keep several books ‘open’ at a time. More than that, he could quote from said books and command his ‘audience’ (mainly us cousins when we were children) with recitations of texts. I, on the other hand, was (still am) a painfully slow reader. As a child, I struggled to finish…

Writing for You? Or for Me?

June 09, 2021

Writing for You? Or for Me? ‘You must always write with your reader in mind.’ This was one of the first pieces of advice that I received when I began my writing career. Honestly, I found this extremely hard to do because more often than not, I couldn’t picture my ideal reader. Slowly, this advice changed to ‘Write for yourself.’ While that seemed easier, it didn’t necessarily fulfil the reality of the situation, meaning, writing for myself didn’t translate into sales of whatever I wrote. As time went on, though, there were a few things I understood which made writing…

One Book That Changed My Writing Life

November 21, 2020

My latest novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets was shortlisted for two categories in the Book Award 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. When I reflected on the journey that this book has taken, I acknowledged the enormous influence of one of my all-time favourite books, Joseph Anton: A Memoir (ISBN 9780224093972 - hardcover) by Salman Rushdie. Written in the third person, the memoir is an account of Rushdie’s life during the fatwa that was issued as a reaction to criticism and a widespread controversy over his novel The Satanic Verses (1988). Rushdie used "Joseph Anton" as a…

A Lasting Effect

November 20, 2020

Members of Readers Club of Manav Rachna International School Sector-46, Gurugram Recently, I accepted an invitation to speak to members of a Readers Club at a school. The topic I was given was to explain the importance of reading and a book that had an impact on me. It seemed easy enough until I found it difficult. In the end, I decided to put myself in these students’ shoes, which meant going back in time and trying to figure out the novel I’d read in school that had had a huge impact on my life. The novel I eventually chose…

Library of Stories - Interview with Maizan Ismail (9 November 2020)

November 09, 2020

A few months ago, I received an email informing me about an award called the Book Award 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. Within the text of the email was an invitation to submit a publication of my choice to be considered for the award. I thought it was a hoax and wrote back to ask if this was really true. Lo and behold, it was! So began the process of submitting The Age of Smiling Secrets for consideration by the experts. I was very grateful for the support from family, friends, the readers of this webiste and…

A Secret Longing - Interview with Marguerite Richards (12 July 2020)

July 12, 2020

A few weeks ago, I received a message from a friend about the publication of a new book called The Ordinary Chaos of Being Human. I found this title intriguing and went about looking for more information about both the book and its author. Duly fascinated, I made a request via my friend about whether or not the author was open to being interviewed. She was. So, without further ado, I allow me to share, in her own words, the story of The Ordinary Chaos of Being Human and its author, Marguerite Richards. Aneeta: Marguerite, thank you for agreeing to…

Quizzical Stories - Interview with Phanindra Ivatury (12 June 2020)

June 13, 2020

When I was still contributing feature articles to the New Straits Times, one of the most curious assignments I had was to work on a story about a quiz master. I never forgot this story for a few reasons. One, a quiz master? What on earth was that? Two, the gentleman in question had a unique name (although I suspect that like most Indian names, it's probably not unique in his hometown) - Phanindra. Three, Phanindra turned out to be one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever interviewed - you could practically feel the energy bouncing off him. Four…

Karma, Psychiatrists and the Storyteller - Interview with VJ Singam (18 March 2020)

March 18, 2020

"In my books, I try to bring my settings to life by giving minute descriptions of the buildings, the way of life of these ancient peoples, their food, their farming practices as described by the archaeologists and scholars who studied them. This is how it works sometimes in science fiction and most of the time in historical fiction. Writers create (or recreate) the universe in which their story is to unfold," - VJ Singam, author of 'Disorientation'. I came across Uma's first published work in 1998. And this was in Alor Setar. At the time, I had completed university and…

The Wedding Estate

January 22, 2020

Aneeta Sundararaj is fascinated by the removal of celebrities' wedding photos because of venue. Is this likely to happen in Malaysia? One of the things that caught my attention early last month was a story about the wedding photos of the Hollywood couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds being removed from websites. Why had those photos caused such offence? The answer was because the wedding had taken place at a US plantation which was ‘a site that holds deep traumatic historical meaning for the African American community’. (1) I set about investigating this story a little more and found an…

Magical Story Energy - Interview with Mbeke Waseme (16 January 2020)

January 16, 2020

Mbeke and I first met a year and a half ago during a celebration hosted by 7C Life RealiZation Centre. A few months later, during the full moon, we travelled together to a resort in Sepang to take part in a session called 'Gratitude of Life' where we immersed ourselves in seawater. The purpose of this session was to express our gratitude to Mother Ganga and set our intentions for a successful and happy life. It is said that during the full moon's heightened gravitational pull, the power of our intentions increases which allows them to be manifested quickly. During…

In the Name of the Father? Maybe Not.

February 29, 2020

Although the concurrent legal jurisdictions of Syariah Law and the Civil Law is unique to Malaysia, they continue to cause problems and there is a growing air of pessimism all round. In July 2018, soon after the manuscript for my novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets, went to print, I wrote a story about the prevailing position of the law in Malaysia where both parents must consent to the conversion of a child to Islam. It stemmed from newspaper articles about a high-profile case involving the unilateral conversion of a child to Islam and the jurisdiction of the courts in…

Miracles Made

December 22, 2019

A story about a Malaysian author, a locally-published book and a miracle in a faraway place a few days before Christmas. There is no winter to speak of in tropical Malaysia, but on 18 December 2019, all that came to mind was that it was a bleak midwinter. In the last few weeks, I'd managed health issues of dear ones, the shocking death of a friend too young to die, assignments to submit, deadlines to meet, the flu, severe allergies to the point of developing painful welts all over and the stress of travel. Certainly, it was a lesson in…

Contact and Connection. And Empathy?

August 15, 2019

[Note: This story was first published in CLARITY (15 August 2019). It is published here with permission.] The scene is familiar: It’s Sunday evening and a family of four come into a restaurant for dinner. The waitress shows them to a table and before they even sit down, all four of them – father, mother, son and daughter – place their phones on the table. Orders are placed and while waiting for the food to arrive, they are glued to their phones. Maybe, there’ll be some respite when the food arrives. Maybe, they’ll put away their phones for a while.…

Satirical Satin - Interview with Nur Farella (15 June 2019)

June 17, 2019

Introduction: I met Farella a few years ago. I was assigned to a story by the papers and went to meet this pretty young lass. I was fascinated by her gumption - she had a dream, a desire and she made it all happen. Here, in her own words, she tells her story. *** Aneeta: Let’s start with a little about you. Please tell me where were you born? Where did you grow up and what do you do for a living? Farella: Thank you for the introduction question Miss Aneeta. I was born at Samuel Clinic, Kuala Lumpur and…

In the Shade of a Mango Tree - Interview with Dato’ Dr. Andrew Mohanraj (15 January 2019)

January 13, 2019

Dato' Dr. Andrew Mohanraj © Aneeta Sundararaj “Same old. Same old. 2004 has been so boring.” These were the words my friend said on Christmas Eve. Neither of us was aware that our belief that the year would end on a dull note was premature. On Boxing Day, I was at home in Alor Setar. I was busy caring for my puppy who was recuperating from an operation. I’d shortened her leash by twirling it around one leg of our dining table so that she would remain in one spot. Suddenly, the glasses in our cabinets rattled and the dining…

Industry 4.Perfection

January 14, 2018

In the last quarter of 2017, I had to learn something new fast and write about it – Industry 4.0. Wikipedia says that, essentially, ‘it’s the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies’. Yes. At first glance, it all sounds like gobbledygook. As I worked on the article, though, I began to wonder how this trend would affect the publishing industry. Would we writers and storytellers respond favourably to it? How could we automate the writing process? Could robots write our stories for us? What if they started writing their own stories? What would they say about…

Why I Prefer Print to E-book/Electronic

February 15, 2018

With the advent of Industry 4.0, there are no limits to the options available for consumers. Is this a good thing, though? Especially for writers and readers? Is there still a need for books, journals, newspapers and magazines? The stories below show that we still need physical reading material to make life worth living. Disaster, luxury and skills Here’s what happened when I started writing for the papers. Delighted to see my words in print, I cut that page out and glued it into a scrapbook. As the number of my published articles increased, so did the space in this…

The Demystification of Stephen by Amina Maikori

September 15, 2016

Title: The Demystification of StephenAuthor: Amina MaikoriFile Size: 1468 KBPrint Length: 72 pagesSimultaneous Device Usage: UnlimitedPublisher: BookBaby; 1 edition (March 20, 2016)Publication Date: March 20, 2016Language: EnglishASIN: B01D8WF4IY Amina Maikori's eBook, 'The Demystification of Stephen' is quite the cute eBook. As the blurb suggests, the story is about a chance meeting that one Stephen Duru has with three women. As the story unfolds, the consequences of each of these encounters is told. The three women believe that by meeting Stephen, their dreams can come true. He is, after all, the 'quintessential 21st century gentlemen: well connected, rich and charming to…

Beyond Satisfaction - Interview with Breanne Dyck (10 November 2016)

November 10, 2016

Breanne Dyck is the founder of MNIB Consulting and helps online training businesses scale their impact, their team and their revenue. Her strategies help to create transformational learning experiences that customers can't stop talking about. Breanne regularly consults on flagship products and programs, CreativeLive courses, live events and workshops for thought-leaders such as bestselling authors Chris Guillebeau, Tara Gentile and Natalie Sisson. As a member of her book launch team, I interviewed her about her upcoming book and advice for writers to create an online course. Rohi: How much time did it take you to write the first edition of…

15 Habits of Writers Who Are Mentally Tough

July 05, 2016

15 Habits of Writers Who Are Mentally Tough by Aneeta Sundararaj Earlier this year, I read an article by Travis Bradberry (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248234) where he sets out 15 habits that mentally tough people should have. I analysed the same 15 habits, but applied them to the writing/publishing industry. Here’s what I came up with: They’re emotionally intelligent From what I understand, EQ is a person’s ability to accurately identify his emotions. This includes being aware of, controlling and expressing those emotions. In ‘Why the best writers have the most Emotional Intelligence’ (http://www.publicationcoach.com/emotional-intelligence/) the two points that jumped out at me were…

Orwell, Bell and the English Language

April 18, 2016

Orwell, Bell and the English Language When I started writing many, many years ago, a friend referred me to 2 resources. One was an essay by George Orwell called ‘Politics and the English Language’. I studied the essay, summarised the points and have used the teachings ever since. The other was a book called ‘Plot and Structure’ by James Scott Bell. I’d like to share what I learnt below. From George Orwell’s essay: [Words like ‘democracy’] are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer…

Semantics of Democracy

April 22, 2016

Semantics of Democracy In the wake of the dramatic political events in the Middle East in February 2011, there are many who wonder if some countries there will now embrace democracy. Indeed, since the revolution in Egypt, there is analysis of how fast its citizens were able to start the revolution to oust the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Also, there has been debate about the blueprint for democracy that Egypt will now adopt. From a writer’s perspective, however, one question remains strangely unanswered: what, actually, does the word ‘democracy’ mean? Let’s start with the events in Cairo, Egypt, by referring…

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