March 22, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

“Writing was not something I had thought about having been in the academic world and teaching.” – Mohana Gill (Malayasian Author)

5 min read

Team Kitaab is in conversation with Malayasian author Mohana Gill as a part of the South Asian Women Writers Feature.

For the whole of March, we will be featuring South Asian Women Writers on Kitaab for the whole of March. You can read the editor’s note to know more about this.

Today, we are featuring award-winning Malayasian author, Mohana Gill. She holds an M. Com degree from the University of Rangoon, a post graduate Diploma in Industrial Administration from the University of Manchester and an MBA from the University of Toronto.

She came to Malaysia as an expatriate to teach at the University of Malaya. She met her husband, a nephrologist, and decided to be a full-time home maker when her first child was born. She wrote her first book FRUITASTIC at the age of 70 and went on to write many more books.

The only Malaysian to have won eight “Best in the World” from Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and one “Best of The Best”. Author Mohana Gill writes cookbooks with a twist. She is not satisfied with just sharing recipes with readers. She is concerned about the eating habits of families and has made it her mission to share information and knowledge while encouraging readers to eat healthily for wellness and longevity.

Happylicious was written with the intention of bringing the family back to the table to share quality time over nourishing meals. Her focus now is children and providing them with a nutritious diet, so they grow to be healthy and happy youngsters. She wrote Hayley’s Happylicious series a series of eight books that promotes good nutrition and well-being among children. She believes in the adage” Healthy children are Happy children”. She holds firmly to Frederick Douglass quote “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”.

It is her dream to leave a healthy living and wellness legacy for future generations. LEELA is Mohana’s most personal work to date, a story about her late mother’s journey from Myanmar to the US.

You can find all her works here.

Team Kitaab: How did writing happen to you?

Mohana Gill: I came to Malaysia in 1966 as an expatriate to teach in the Faculty of Economics University of Malaya. I stopped working when I got married and was expecting my first child. I became a writer by accident at the age of 70. All my children had completed their education and were working and one of them was married. Now I had time on my hands and wanted to do something and not sure what I wanted. Writing was not something I had thought about having been in the academic world and teaching.

Cooking and entertaining had always been my passion and it was suggested that I write a cookbook. After a lot of research, I decided that it was too boring and there were so many cookbooks of every genre in the market.

That was when Mohana Gill was born. Until then I was Mrs. Rose Gill, mum etc. It was the beginning of a very interesting and exciting journey.

Mohana Gill

Fruits have always been a very important part of our household, so I decided to write about fruits, I did not want it to be the usual run of the books so used a different format. The first part of the book was information about the fruit, origin nutritional value etc. and the second part of the book was recipes.

The book was published in 2006 and won Special Award of the Jury and Best in the World from Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. That was when Mohana Gill was born. Until then I was Mrs. Rose Gill, mum etc. It was the beginning of a very interesting and exciting journey.

Team Kitaab: If you had to introduce someone to your work/which books of yours would you ask them to start with?

Mohana Gill: I would start with the first book FRUITASTIC, then introduce them to my children’s books the first one, Hayley’s Fruitastic Garden”, and finally my latest book LEELA my most personal work to date, a chronicle of   my late mother’s journey as a young widow in pre-war Burma to Singapore, Malaysia, India the United States and Canada. The book MYAMAR CUISINE AND CULTURE is another book close to my heart and about the country I was born in.

Team Kitaab: Five reads from your region.

Mohana Gill:

1.Tutu Dutta The Blood Prince of Langkasuka

2.Adiba Amin   As I was Passing II

3.Hanna Alkaf  The Ghost and The Girl

4.Sue Lynn Tan Daughter of the Moon Goddess

5.Karina Bahrin Robles- The Accidental Malay

Team Kitaab: Your thoughts on Women writing as a genre.

Mohana Gill: I think that it is very interesting and also very important.  The thinking process of a woman differs from a man, her emotions her feelings her understanding of things are poles apart. They see things, analyze things, feel differently and their interests are so varied.

Team Kitaab: Please talk about your publishing journey. The challenges you faced and the hurdles.

Mohana Gill: I have been very lucky with my publishing journey. Once I was introduced to MPH publishers there were no problems. They were very happy to publish as most of the books received awards. One book Myanmar cuisine and culture was published by Marshall Cavendish Singapore without any hassles. 

Team Kitaab: How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Mohana Gill: I really have not had to deal with writer’s block. I write at my own pace as and when I feel like. If I have other thigs to do or am not in the mood I do not write. But once I have decided on a project, I pretty much write to complete it.

Disclaimer: All pictures are copyright of the author/s unless otherwise.