A story about the storytellers: Heartwrite

The local indie publishing and communications company have put out their first book written in French

As her grandfather drives to Tasek Merimbun, little Nina can see the vast green scenery of her home country.

The tall trees, the long green grass, and even a hornbill or two. The little girl looks on with wonder at how diverse and beautiful her surroundings are.

“What is bigger?” Nina asks her grandfather as the sight of towering forest canopy greets them as they arrive.

Qu’est-ce qui est plus grand ? – translated as ‘What is bigger?’ is Heartwrite’s first book, authored by Huwaida Ishaaq in French and illustrated by Christina Nance Yong. Released in November last year, the publication is a children’s storybook, which also serves as a “post card” from Brunei, according to its producers.

“We see this works as both a storybook as well as a postcard from Brunei,” said Huwaida, who co-founded Heartwrite in 2015 with Ying Chia. “So writing it in French gave me that perspective of looking from the outside.”

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The book, which has sold more than 100 copies since its launch, is based off a narrative Huwaida would tell her nieces and nephews, formed from a freind’s son who would always curiously ask, what’s bigger than the last biggest thing he’s encountered.

“Environment and sustaining the ecosystem is something close to us at Heartwrite; it is part of what we advocate for. Through the art, and some of the passages, we hope to create some curiosity about the featured plants and animals,” said Huwaida.

Ying, who was the art director of the book, shared that one of the main challenge’s was finding illustrators – as images for each of the first 100 copies were all drawn by hand. The two who they had envisioned for the artwork, turned down the project due to scheduling, and what should have taken two months to complete, eventually stretched to over nine months.

With the book now published, Hearwrite is receiving small orders internationally from Canada, France and the UK.

Along with producing their own merchandise, the duo are also quite passionate about the writer community in Brunei and hopes to encourage more and more aspiring writers to pursue their craft not just as a hobby but as a full time job. So to build a platform for people to come and share their work, Heartwrite also holds an event called ‘Writers Jam’ once a month where anyone is welcome to come and listen to people read their work, whether it’s short stories or poetry.

It’s $15 per entry and you can find out more about the event @heartwrite.co on Instagram.

If you would like to purchase Heartwrite’s first book, it is $15 and you can email them at taowculture@gmail.com. Also if you’re interested to find out more about them you can check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/heartwriteco/ or their website theartofwrite.wordpress.com