Egypt: The Uprising is my debut novel and it launches the Egyptian mythology inspired series, the Battle for Maat.
Set against the backdrop of the Egyptian revolution of January 25th 2011, Egypt the Uprising explores a mythical ‘alternate reality’ where the recent uprisings in the Middle East are not as simple as they seem and have roots older than recorded history itself.
How did the name of the series, the “Battle for Maat” come about?
The Battle for Ma’at is a quest to restore justice and right the wrongs of the world.
Maat, literally “that which is right,” is an ancient Egyptian concept. In fact, it is the most important among all of the ancient Egyptian philosophical ideals: universal order, harmony, justice and righteousness.
This is a befitting name for the series because it captures the essence of the struggle between the forces of the universe presented in it. It is not simply a battle between good and evil. It is a battle for reinstating the scales of justice back in place.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am currently working on book two of the series. This installment tells of the struggle of the freedom fighters as they face the unknown–much as a reflection of the situation on the ground in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world.
The beginning oozes of the uncertainty and the pain we suffer now in Egypt with our ‘transitional’ situation. But then things move further away from the realism and into fantasy.
Tell us something about yourself.
Born to Egyptian-Canadian parents, I have always been proud of the mutliculturism and mix of cultures in my family. I spent my early childhood in Egypt where I was spoon-fed stories of ancient Egyptian myths by my grandmother. My fascination with the mythology of the world grew with time. Later when I moved to Canada with my parents, I would spend hours in the Mississauga Central library gobbling up all sorts of books about myths and cultures bygone.
My passion for writing started at a very early age. I started “writing” picture books when I was about five, and then came the diaries and short stories.I even finished a novel manuscript when I was in high school.
Then, I went back to Egypt to go to university. I studied to be a doctor, and worked briefly as a teacher assistant in Cairo University but my passion for writing has led me astray. I took up medical writing as a career instead. And I am glad I did, because if I had not, I would have never have found the time to work on my novels.
I now live in a quiet suburban Cairo district, not too far from the pyramids, with my husband, my 7-year-old daughter Mariam and my 20 months-old Adam.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I chose Egyptian-sounding names for the characters with Egyptian heritage. But there is much more to naming my characters than that. Names are very significant to me; I guess I get this from my ancient Egyptian ancestors who believed in the power of naming the person.
The protagonist’s name, Aya, for instance carries double hidden meanings. “Aya” in Arabic word which loosely translates to a miracle or sign–but in the same time phonetically, Aya is reminiscent of “eye.”
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing?
Forget “writing what you know,” and instead write about what you are passionate about. You cannot craft a story that moves your readers and transports them to extraordinary places if it does not move you first.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Oh I certainly do not think that any work of fiction, or any book for that matter, can be ubiquitously enjoyed by everyone.
People who would love my book love to see strong female protagonists and enjoy reading about the unlikely hero doing the impossible .
My readers are smart, intellectual, people who are fascinated by other cultures and mythologies.
They like to understand the world around them and find order in the disorderly.
They are people with a strong sense of right and wrong. In my books, they find an escape from the real world where righteousness and justice seem to keep taking hit after hit and never recuperate.
Not all of them are idealist dreamers–although most of them are–but they do find solace in a magical world in which science and magic work together for the benefit of the human kind. They seek to be entertained and maybe a little enlightened while at it.
Although the story is classified as young adult fiction, it is also appreciated by adults who enjoy the freshness of coming of age novels and enjoy reading fast-moving character-rich adventures set in faraway places.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?