But upon being crowned winner of the inaugural national competition for Young Adult Literature, she was driven to understand how literature can forge connections across consciousnesses which could span various generations.
The result of this victory was embodied in her first novel, Inżul ix-Xemx (Sunset, Merlin Publishers, 2011), which focuses on a friendship that develops between two boys – Josef and Thomas, the latter of which is bound by a strict parental regime by dint of suffering a rare illness. Two more novels for youths would soon follow – Bella Berger (Klabb Kotba Maltin, 2013), and Il-Kulur tal-Lellux (The Colour of Daisies, BDL, 2016) – which consolidated Saliba’s hold on the youth prize, leading to a varied literary career.
This, notwithstanding that Saliba began writing and publishing at a relatively mature age. Something which the author deems to be a plus – life experience does make rich fodder for fiction, and that truism appears to hold as far as Saliba’s subsequently prolific trajectory is concerned. Her partnership with Merlin Publishers continued with a number of books for children - some for whom she took on translating duties, while collaborating with authors and illustrators for the Senduq series. Saliba’s childhood love for the historical fiction she used to precociously consume at her grandmother’s house also found vent in her efforts at adaptation: for Klabb Kotba Maltin, she has adapted the classic works of Ġużè Bonnici and Ġużè Galea for a teenage readership … perhaps channelling that same impulse which led a young Saliba to immerse herself in the atmospherics of a Malta gone by, even if the plot was a bit foggy for her by that point.
As if to further compensate for her ‘late’ start in the writing game, Saliba can also credit four short story collections to her name; the earlier two – Satin and Damask (Horizons) – being composed of ‘full-length’ short stories while the more recent volumes are made up of microfictions running approximately 100 to 200 words each. Her first adult novel, O.B.E.– a psychological thriller driven by the concept of out-of-body-experiences, as the title suggests – further cements Saliba as an author unafraid to experiment with literary forms.
The true joy that underlies Saliba’s busy output is, however, most keenly felt during the research stage, with Saliba valuing especially the element of human encounters, which the eventual writing even engenders more of, on occasion. Glad to form part of the wider community of Maltese writers, Saliba shares one common complaint among them: the dearth of a proper feedback and criticism mechanism within the literary culture.
Written by Teodor Reljić
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul