CAIRO – 26 March 2019: In the second part of his interview with Egypt Today, Ahmed Mourad reveals more about his coming projects, “Adham Sabri” and “Assassins”, his career shift, and personal taste.
Tell me more about the film project "Adham Sabri" that is based on the novel “Al-Ragol Al-Mostaheel" (The Impossible Man)?
I contacted "The Producers" production company to write a script based on the novel. It is a huge project that we are still working on.
What about the "Assassins"?
It revolves around the life of Hassan al-Sabah, the founder of what is known as the Nizari Ismaili sect; it is a huge historic project that needs massive research and a huge budget. I have already written a set of drafts which are being assessed to be produced by foreign production agencies.
Your literary works have been translated into four languages; do you consider your foreign reader while writing or do you agree with Naguib Mahfouz’s quote "go deeper in nationality to reach internationality"?
I do not write for translation but rather for human beings because if I write for translation, I will be restricted by certain standards. I prefer to go deeper in human beings to write everlasting novels.
How can you estimate your literary works and yourself?
I cannot estimate myself; this question is so hard to answer. Yet, I await the novel after which I can say "I am done." Up until now, I still have lots of comments on every novel I write.
Tell me more about the night when you decided to make a career shift.
I am an Aquarius and my Chinese sign is the Horse. I hate restrictions. I am like a wild horse. I was totally fed up and I went to one of my close friends who is a famed filmmaker. I showed him a draft of my writing and told him "let's do a fantastic movie" but he responded, "Ahmed, you are not talented at all. You are not a writer and will not be. Please, give it up and just focus on Photography because you are a brilliant photographer."
I got depressed but my wife told me, "Why do you believe people who tell you that you are not talented enough to write? I believe you can do it." My wife’s words encouraged me because there are two kinds of criticism; one drives you to do miracles and the other destroys you. I started writing in February. I ended the novel in June, and it was published by the production company, Merit, on August 25.
What is the worst experience you went through during writing a novel?
None of them was bad because all the experiences that seemed bad turned out to be good. For instance, I was infected by H1N1 flu virus and I lost 12 kilograms while I was revising "Diamond Dust". It seemed fatal but now I recount this experience proudly.
Arthur Miller had lots of clashes with his wife Marilyn Monroe due to her belief that he wrote about her in his literary works; to what extent does this apply to your life?
My wife always searches for herself in my novels; if a tiny feature of her is tackled in my works, she immediately asks "is that me?" But that is normal. People do believe in literature. After publishing "The Blue Elephant", people believed that I am a womanizer and an addict. After publishing "The Season of Hunting Deer", everybody said you are Nadeem (the protagonist of the novel).
Do you believe in metaphysics?
I am so practical and materialistic. I always need to see things to believe them. Hence, metaphysics is science fiction to me. However, I apply it in my works. I get weird dreams. Actually, all Yehia Rashed's dreams at the movie are mine.
What trait did you acquire from the following writers: Ahmed Khaled Tafiq, Nabil Farouk, Ihsan Abdel Quddous, Youssef Edriss, and Youssef Zeidan?
Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq: Boredom is the common trait we share. He used to stand up while writing. He was the best. I cannot believe that he passed away.
Nabil Farouk: Perseverance and investing in a certain idea.
Ihsan Abdel Quddous: He tackled women's issues through the lens of man. He taught me how to put myself in women's shoes when I write about them.
Youssef Edriss: Freezing time and cohesion. He taught me how to pause and focus on a certain radical moment. Edriss is like a photographer who knows when to capture a photo.
Youssef Zeidan: he is so stylistic; he uses language as if it is a human being.
How do you choose the themes of your novels?
Obsession. It might be issues that are not tackled in literary works or tackled in a way that I don't like; sometimes it might be tackled brilliantly to a degree that I want to compete. Briefly, it is all about enjoyment.
Do you extract most of your characters from reality?
Not exactly, but my characters are compiled from reality. I gather tiny features from different people to create a new character. Movies, people, reading and life inspire me.
Can you become an actor one day?
No, I am not an actor. I play all the roles I write in my novels so I do not need to act.
What are your habits during writing?
I write anywhere. I just need a laptop, headphones, favorite soundtracks or the sound of sea waves and that is it. I write early and never write at night.
What is your daily routine?
I wake up very early at 6:30 a.m. I write from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. I give writing courses, read, present a radio program and then I meet my friends before going to bed at 2 a.m.
Who are your favorite singers, actors, actresses and what are your favorite places and dishes?
My favorite singers are Abdel Halim Hafez, Amr Diab and Michael Jackson.
My favorite actors are Majed al-Kedwani, Karim Abdel Aziz, Asser Yassin and Mahmoud Morsi.
My favorite actresses are Hind Sabri, Menna Shalaby, and Faten Hamama.
My favorite place is Al-Sayeda Zeinab, where I was born. I feel comfortable there. And my favorite dishes are French fries and vine leaves.
What was the piece of advice that you got from a fan?
I cannot remember a specific piece of advice, but I usually benefit from professional writers because their comments are much more precise. For example, writer Son'allah Ibrahim, writer Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq and director Marwan Hamid's comments have always been so effective and beneficial.