Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Anxiously Awaiting 2007

I've been watching loads of movie trailers online and I gotta admit 2007 already looks very promsing. Some of these films below are so hot they'll burn your eyes!


Spider-man 3



Hot Fuzz

Pan's Labyrinth

The first two alone would make the next year worthwhile! That's all for now. And by the bye...


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Walk The Line

How do you know when it's time to move on?

How do you know you're making the right choice?

Is there such a thing as a right choice?

Things happen for a reason.

Things don't.

We live the life we can grab.

We walk the line we see ahead of us.

I don't believe in the future. I only believe in the moment.

Does that make me any less human than I am?

This is not a poem.

If it is, then it sucks.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tomorrow is Another Day

Tomorrow is the auditions for the short 'comedy' film I had been working on the past few weeks, which I can't remember if I had mentioned here before or not. Regardless, it should be, erm, interesting to say the least. We've had a bit of a disappointing response to the casting call so far, but we're keeping positive.

Production has been pushed a little back to around early February, which should give us enough time to cast and prepare for the actual shoot. The script is still under maintenance, I've change a few bits here and there after receiving more feedback and comments. It's looking good, but our real concern now is with the acting and finding the right people for the roles!

A few days ago I had actually done a bit of writing. I penned about 350 words on Buried, and a couple of hundred on Against. Pitiful I know. But I always say that. Buried has already been two years in the making, while Against is having a similar fate. I think I need to take some time off from everything thing else to focus on my writing. I struggle big time to concentrate on one thing when there are a dozen things on my mind at the same time. Maybe I just need a good kick in the arse!

Elham – the new group for creative people which had been inaugurated last month – has had a good reception. Its very encouraging. People seem to be getting into it and I hope that it grows into something bigger and unique. We are now thinking of where to take it next, and how. We want to create something exciting, fun and stimulating.

So if you are interested in joining us please leave a comment or email me or info@alriwaqgallery.org.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What Kind of Worm Are You?

Each one of us has their own personal reading ratio. Some are higher than others. I would say mine leans more towards the lower figures. I've heard of people who read a book each month or, more astonishingly, each month! Me? Really depends.

Many people seem to assume that being a writer, I must read a whole lot. To an extent, that would be a safe assumption, if only it were true. I don't read as much as I should or would like, we all say that don't we? But people for some reason seem a little disappointed at me or let down when I tell them I'm not a fanatic reader. I'm pretty moody when it comes to it. I suppose I should feel bad, because I always advise aspiring writers to 'read' more! Practise what you preach and all that nonesense.

Anyway, I decided to find out how many books I did read so far. And the ones I could remember came up to more than I at first imagined. Here is my book list (in no particular order)....

See You Later – Christoper Pike
Crime & Punishment – Dostoyevsky
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
For Love of the Game – Michael Shaara
The Sandman series (12 graphic novels) – Neil Gaiman
Smoke & Mirrors – Neil Gaiman
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
Coraline – Neil Gaiman
Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
Wolves in the Walls – Neil Gaiman
The High Cost of Living – Neil Gaiman
1602 – Neil Gaiman
Across the Nightingale Floor – Lian Hearn
Brilliance of the Moon – Lian Hearn
Grass for His Pillow – Lian Hearn
Surrender, Dorothy – Meg Wolitzer
Bluegrass – Brat Schneider
The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
Coastliners – Joanne Harris
Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris
Blackberry Wine – Joanne Harris
Uncle Rudolf – Paul Bailey
Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk
Choke – Chuck Palahniuk
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy – Tim Burton
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Tell No One – Harlan Coben
One False Move – Harlan Coben
Gone for Good – Harlan Coben
No Second Chance – Harlan Coben
Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
Flying Leap – Judy Budnitz
Mortal Engines – Philip Reeve
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Goodnight, Nebraska – Tom McNeal
Kingdom Gone – Frank Lean
Beggars Banquet – Ian Rankin
On Writing – Stephen King
The Partner – John Grisham
A Painted House – John Grisham
The Testament – John Grisham
The Brethren – John Grisham
The Client – John Grisham
The Summons – John Grisham
The Man Who Ate the 747 – Ben Shrewood
Our Fathers – Andrew O'Hagan
Disgrace – J.M. Coetezee
Gravity – Erica Wagner
The Constant Eye – Candida Clark
Bee Season – Myla Goldberg
Soho – Keith Waterhouse
The 13th Warrior – Michael Crichton
With Your Crooked Heart – Helen Dunmore
Dangerous Parking – Stewart Browne
Dressing Up For the Carnival – Carol Sheilds
Green for Danger – Cristina Brand
Foreign Correspondence – Cindy Blake
God is a Bullet – Boston Tearn
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Time Traveler's Wife – Audrey Niffenberger
Yes Man! – Danny Wallace
Preacher series (9 graphic novels) – Garth Ennis

I think that comes up to around 85 books, give or take. I probably left out one or two. I suppose that's not bad considering I've only really started reading books at the of 20!!! Does that qualify me as a book worm?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Smile When You're Singing

This is AWESOME!

If it doesn't make you smile, sue me. Seriously.

And if you're deadly serious about becoming a writer I strongly advise you to read these very important 'rules for writing'!

And while I'm at it, THANKS to everyone who's turned up for the 'Elham' evening at Alriwaq on Tuesday, it went all oh so well. You've earned yourself a latte for the effort, now go get it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Be A(muse)d

This coming Tuesday we will have a special 'gathering' at Al Riwaq Art Gallery which will include readings by me and two other local writers. It will start at 7pm and ALL are welcome. If you have an interest in literature, arts, music or fancy yourself a writer, poet, musician, artist, filmmaker etc, then be sure to be there. (Click image for more details)

Today I attended an art workshop, by Dutch artist Theodora Plas. It was fascinating as it focused on the connetion of music with color. I have mixed feelings about the whole experince. I struggled a great deal trying to get my mind to think in terms of colors and shapes and lines instead of words! It was actually a bit intimidating and I wasn't comfortable to begin with. If it taught me one thing, its that the two (painting and writing), even though sharing some similarties, are nothing alike... I suppose it's safe to say that you won't see me replacing my pen with a brush anytime soon!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Take Offs And Landings

What a hectic few days these've been.

The events at the British Council and the Muharraq School both turned out spectacularly well. I enjoyed both immensely and I was pleased with the response I got from the students, especially at the government school, which was a very pleasant surprise.

I'm starting to enjoy these kinds of affairs. Four, three, maybe even two years ago, I would never has seen myself doing something like that, but the fact is, the interaction with the young students is refreshing and it's wonderful to see their level of interest in literature, books and writing.

This is something we (and by we, I suppose I mean my generation) never had the chance to experience. To meet with local creative people and discuss their crafts and backgrounds and professions. I wish there is more schools and more artists and writers out there doing the same.

I don't think I'd mind doing more of these at all actually.

I got my copy of The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 yesterday and I've skimmed through it and I'm happy and ecstatic and over the moon with it! Its fabulous and I can't wait to get some time alone with it! Its HUGE!

I remember the first time I read the Sandman, I even remember how it felt reading the very first issue, which Tariq (my ex-colleague at the GDN) lent me. I got hooked instantly and I never looked back since… So in a way, I owe you big thanks Tariq!

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Sad Truth

I was gonna write a detailed post about my trip to Dubai - which was fine by the way and I quite enjoyed - but I'm really tired and not in the mood. Last night, moments after I got home from the airport, we got a call telling us one of my aunts has passed away. That wasn't nice to hear at all, as you can imagine.

In the meantime, you can see some images from the trip on my flickr account. The event at the XVA was a nice, low-key event, during which I talked a little about my work and read a short piece from Moments.

My impression of Dubai - having visited it for the first time in 5 years - is a mixed one. There's plenty to do and you get to meet interesting people and it could be a lot of fun, but its a spiritless city, like a wild boar in search of a heart. It seemed to me as if it were an architectural hungry monster that would eventually devour everything (and everyone) that is around it, and within it.

Tomorrow morning I have to deliver my talk at the British Council and I feel that I am under-prepared and a little out of focus. So wish me luck.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Off to Dubai

I'm leaving tomorrow morning to Dubai for a couple of days. My first book event/appearance in Dubai will be on Wednesday (Nov 15) at the XVA and starts from 7pm. This will be followed by a film screening, I'm told. So if you happen to be in Dubai, you better make sure you be there on time! I've not been to Dubai in almost five years. Everyone tells me I'm in for a shock!

This morning we had a presentation for Models of Success at Al Hoora Secondary School for Girls which turned out pretty well. We showed the film, talked about the project and I shed light on the book, which I wrote. I am glad that the whole thing was well received. Ideally, we hope that every government school would take in a copies of the film and the book to feature in their libraries or learning centres.

I also yesterday visited the British Council to go over the details of the workshop with the council staff on the 18th. I'm told there's interest from the part of the students, so fingers crossed there'll be a good turn out.

I should probably go and pack now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Melty Cheese Is Sticky

It seems I've become more of a secretary than a writer lately. I'm my own personal assistant! Phone calls to make, planning to do, scheduling to arrange, meetings to set, dates to pur right, deadlines to be reminded of… Ok, maybe I should stop whining about it. I mean, seriously, it's not like I'm running for office is it? No, now that would be hard work. Yeah. Right.

The British Council event is all set to go down on November 18th. There will be two separate sessions at 10.30am and at 12noon. And I'll be talking to a bunch of 12 to 17 year olds about writing, creativity and whatever comes to my mind on the day really! I might end up talking about how to make a proper *egg & cheese on toast for breakfast! Details here.

Meanwhile, I'm loosing more hair than I am allowed to over planning this Dubai trip. I'm getting a bit muddled. Too many numbers you see. I hate numbers. But in case you were curious, the event will be hosted by the XVA Gallery in Dubai on November 15th from 7pm.

Yesterday we went out to scout locations for the shoot of the TV show thing I talked about before. In fact, a casting call shall be put out very soon. So keep an eye out, if you're interested in giving it a shot. A date for the audition will be revealed soon and I will post the call on this blog in the next day or so.

*the slice of cheese melts in between the egg and the toast from the heat. Sometimes that's how my brains feel.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Rush of Confusion to the Brain

Things are starting to get pretty hectic. I'm supposed to be in Dubai for a couple of day as I have an event on the 15th there, but I'm yet to sort out all the logistics of it and I'm kinda running outa time. I'll have to confirm things within the next two of three days as I'll need to start promoting the damned thing... I promise to post all the details of the Dubai-thing, as well as the other three event this month, as soon as I know them!

One of them though is a definate. The British Council asked me to present a talk/workshop for their Young Adult program students on November 18th. Should be fun, I suppose, if I don't screw it up!

As for the TV show thing I mentioned in my earlier post, well, we've officially moved into the pre-production phase, which means that we'll have to work on a whole punch of things such as storyboarding, location scouting and *gulp* casting!

And just on a sidenote, if you haven't yet seen the following films, then you MUST


Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Modern Romantic

I woke up to a pleasant surprise this morning. I discovered that I am published in the latest issue of the Arabesques Review, which came out yesterday!

Apparently, my short story Yellow was accepted for publication. I didn't know about it because I most likely deleted their email as it made it to my junk folder and I never bothered checking before deleting. Today when I went through the junk folder I found, to my bewilderment, another email. This time I opened it.

Anyway, Yellow is published in a special anthological issue dedicated to modern and contemporary romance writing, titled the Modern Romance. You can purchase the print paperback book through their website (for only $13.29), or you can browse it online.

That makes it TWO anthologies in ONE month!!!

Speaking of anthologies, Goodbye, Darwin has now popped up in amazon.com.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sequel in the Making

November is shaping up to be one helluva busy month. All of a sudden, after almost one entire month of absolute nothingness, a whole bunch of things are popping up here and there.

If all falls into the right places within the next few days, I will probably be embarking on yet another mini book tour, with a possible 3 to 4 new dates! Its exiting, but its also very tiring. The past three days I've been running around like mad and come around 9ish in the evening I'm so ready to hit the sack that I actually do, which is rather unlike me.

Oh, and speaking of upcoming events, there might be two additional ones within the next couple of weeks. These will be a Models of Success related stuff (I know I've not brought that up for a while have I?) But I'm told that the two dates are confirmed, just a matter of sorting exact time and venue.

And before I forget, if you find the November issue of Bahrain Traveler around – it would probably be somewhere like a newsstand! – pick it up for it has a full, in-depth review of Moments, the most comprehensive the book has so far.

Oddly enough, I've felt an urge to listen to Radiohead and put on their "The Bends" cd, which is brilliant. Not listened to that for ages.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hello Darwin!

Goodbye, Darwin the Sci-Fi anthology featuring my short story 'Writers' Block' will be laucnhed in November, from Canadian-based Apodis Publishing. It's been a long wait but the book is finally completed and you will be able to purchase it from most major online bookstores. In fact, it is already available through Amazon.co.uk. Have a look. You can also read the synopsis and table of contents here.

This is actually the first anthology I appear in, so it means quite something for me. I had previously had short stories published in magazines, jounals and websites before, but not in a print anthology.

Having said that, there are at least two other anthologies in the pipeline which I just might appear in with other stories. But these have not been confirmed yet. I hope Goodbye, Darwin will be the start of a new trend for me!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Venturing Into TV Land

I'm getting rater excited about this new project I've been working on for the past few weeks. It's a new challenge for me and yes, as you've probably guessed from the title of this post, it has something to do with television!

I can't, at this point, reveal much about it. But I can tell you that I'm involved in creating some sort of new TV show. We've been writing the script for the pilot episode over the past couple of weeks and I can happy that the collaborative writing sessions went brilliantly well. We now have a completed script and this will go through several sessions of editing and redrafting.

I must admit it was a departure working closely on a script like this and found that the creative juices flowed much easily throughout. But like I said, I can't say much more about it. (I promised I won't!) Not until things are all sorted and set to go, which should be over the coming few weeks.

To many, Eid started today. So happy holidays to all of you out there and…

***Eid Mubarak***

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Click & Flick(r)

Some of you might've noticed that my Flickr account has disappeared. It's a long story... actually it's not! It was deleted. Somehow. By someone. Probably me. That's what I was told anyway.

Anyhow, I've got me a new account now, and I've gone PRO this time around. Take at a look at some ofthe photos I've uploaded so far and keep checking regulary for more updates.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I remember this show being one of my faves as a teenager. It was one of the few that I enjoyed back then. There weren't many good ones anyway, and I wasn't that big a TV puff. But Sliders was something different and I loved the characters and the whacky adventures they went on.

MBC4 has been showing reruns of the first couple of seasons (the best in my opinion) and I found myself appreciating the show even more now than I did before, revisiting the various parallel worlds that Professor Arturo, Quinn, Wade and Rembrandt went through in their quest to find home again. For a summary of what it is about check out Sliders.net

The series ran for five seasons (1995/2000) but in all honesty I don't remember seeing the later episodes. I think there couldn't be a replacement for the original cast especially the role of Prof. Arturo played by the brilliant John Rhys-Davies, who was only in the first two seasons.

That was perhaps one of the shows that started a whole new wave of SF and fantasy series. It was that along with another big fave of mine, Quantum Leap! It used to be aired on Bahrain's Channel 55 believe it or not. Back then it was our only source of proper telly.

Of course there were way too many duplicates and rip offs, but in my opinion they all failed to replicate the originality of these two shows. If you get a chance check Sliders out on MB4

… they don't make them like they used to.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Place To Read

Last night I attended the opening of the new and fabulous Iqra Library in Muharaq, opposite the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture & Research.

The library – in addition to being stunningly beautiful – will serve as a reading house for young people and children between 6 and 12, a more than welcome move and one that surely will have an impact on encouraging the young ones to pick a book up and read.

The interior design is simple, contemporary yet grounded in tradition. There is the actual library, the computer hallway, and the gallery hall. It makes perfect use of a small space with calm and soothing decor.

The Arabic word Iqra means 'read'. And intrinsically it was the very first word that from the Koran that was delivered to Prophet Mohammed (PbuH), signifying the importance of reading and how celebrated it is in Isalm.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this library progressed and what sort of response it will get and the various programmes and activities it will introduce. Meanwhile though, I suggest you go down and visit it – and don't forget to take the kids with you!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Fiction is for Real

I was up till around 6am today finishing up chapter 20 of my novel Buried (working title). I've not been attentive of my writing this past month of so, so it was somewhat refreshing to get back on with things. Whenever I read anything by Neil Gaiman I feel stimulated enough to want to write, and this time was no exception. I had just received my copy of his new collection Fragile Things, which I've been looking forward to and simply reading the intro got me back into the writing mood!

Anyway, I now feel that I'm only 10,000 words away (4 or 5 more chapters) from completing the novel. But at the same time I'm expecting it would take a lot fro me to revise, redraft and edit the thing once it's done. The process of writing Buried has been completely different than what I did with QuixotiQ. Here, I have the whole story mapped out in my head, unlike with Q, but it's also a very different kind of story.

Wherein Q was a violent voyage of a desperate man in a world of fantasy and nightmare, Buried is a more subtle character-driven story amidst a murder mystery. The only common element in the two novels is that they both take place in a small town, one fictional and the other real.

You can now read my interview* in the recent issue of Oh La La! Magazine and take a moment to visit my website to check out the latest updates. (*PDF might take moment to downloaded)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fail/Feel Better

The first half of Ramadan has been very unproductive. My days are all messed up and I can't seem to be able to focus on anything. Perhaps I was a little worn. I've been working hard on Moments these past couple of months and with the two-week tour, I had plenty on my hands to do…

There's still plenty to do. But I'm starting to find it a bit difficult to maintain. I'm not sure if I can entirely blame Ramadan for it. But I suppose it at least has something to do with it.

The latest good news is that Al Hilal Bookshop has agreed to stock Moments in all of its 14 branches across the country, including its stall at the airport departures. So you won't have any excuse for not buying your copy, even if you're planning to escape the country for a while!

Still no development on the Gulf front though. I've had interest in a couple of places in Saudi and Dubai, but it's all far from confirmed yet.

Submissions round up:

The Purple Rose – Strange Stories of Sand & Sea anthology

The Bullshiter - In Posse Review

The Red Hand of Ottoman – Butcher Shop Quarterly anthology & Stride Magazine
Bow Failbetter
The Purple Rose - Clarkesworld Magazine

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's My Sundae

A note to let you know that Culturally Speaking, my weekly column in the Gulf Daily News, is now appearing on Sundays, instead of Thursdays. You can read today's column here. And to access previous columns visit the Culturally Speaking blog.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When Autumn Comes

Last night's reading was the perfect ending to the mini 2-week book tour which began with the official launch of Moments at Albareh Art Gallery on September 14th (already seems decades ago!).

La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Arts is a beautiful place and the evening went on wonderfully, the gallery hall was filled and everything went better than I was expecting. The audience was lovely and the interaction we had following the reading was a real pleasure.

In a candlelit ambiance I read Bow, the first short story I wrote in 1998, and followed it with Fallen Gods. Again, one of the earlier stories of mine. But I ended with the rather unusual story 43, which I dare say is becoming some sort of a cult piece of fiction. Every time I read it, it never failed to raise a few eyebrows and uncertain giggles.

The piece if one of the most random I've written so far. I wanted to write the greatest story ever told – and I truly thought I could – until I realized what an absurd thought it was… and the words that followed that made 43 what it is today.

And if that wasn't enough, there is now talk about turning it into a very very very short film… more on that soon.

But once again thanks to those who took the time to share that evening with me and for everyone who was involved.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Our Brainy Patterns

Your Brain's Pattern
Your mind is a firestorm - full of intensity and drama.Your thoughts may seem scattered to you most of the time...But they often seem strong and passionate to those around you.You are a natural influencer. The thoughts you share are very powerful and persuading.
What Pattern Is Your Brain?

Made me smile that. The bit about the scattered thoughts was spot on!

You can read my review of Roddy Woomble's debut album at Ear Medicine.

I've got a deadline to meet in two days and I'm not even half way through yet. I'm not worried though, no seriously, I'm not.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This Just In...

Reading by Ali Al Saeed at la fontaine centre of contemporary art

At 8.30pm on Wednesday 27th September, Bahraini writer Ali Al Saeed will read from his new novel Moments (Al Maseerah Publishing) at la fontaine centre of contemporary art.

Moments is Ali’s second novel, the first of which, QuixotiQ, also written in English, received the Bahrain Outstanding Book of the Year Award and was a national bestseller. Ali’s second book is a collection of short stories encompassing a variety of themes, from the fairytale world of gods and dreams to the brutal reality of modern terrorism. ‘Ali writes from the inside out, forcing the reader under the skin of his characters to powerful effect,’ says acclaimed American author Shay Youngblood, while George Williams, Editor in Chief of Gulf Daily News, describes his writing as ‘original and magical’.

At la fontaine, Ali will read a selection of stories from Moments, following which he will answer questions and sign copies of his book. This is an opportunity for avid readers and writers alike to engage in an informal discussion about the art, or simply to sit back and listen to stories narrated by their creator.

For more information, please call Melissa or Sharon at la fontaine on 17 230 123 or visit www.lafontaineartcentre.com.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wonderful Week

The past week has been a very busy and exciting one. Following the official launch of Moments, I've been working hard to find channels of distribution for Moments not only here in Bahrain, but across the region. There are two of three different options on the table right now and I hope all of them will work out.

That week has also been relatively a successful one in terms of sales. We've already sold, roughly, around 25% of the printed first run. And that basically makes Moments another National Best-seller. The challenge now, of course, is to maintain such consistency.

So once again, thanks for everyone who has purchased their copy of Moments and for every person who had supported me and offered their help and advice. It's really humbling to see so many people expressing willingness to be involved and to support local talents.

One final date remains on the Moments book tour, and that is on September 27th at La Fontaine Art Centre. A special announcement will be made about it in a day or two.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I would like to start by thanking every single person who came to the launch Thursday night at Albareh Art Gallery and to the book signing today at Booksplus, Seef. Both events went pretty well... and its all thanks to YOU!

The set up at the gallery was very relaxed, simple and informal. I spent most of the time on my feet, walking around the gallery signing copies to people mingling. It was better than being stuck behind a table. The whole evening, even though at the start was a bit chaotic, had a warm feel and friendly to it. Everybody seemed to have had a good time.

The signing at Booksplus was just as good. It started very slowly but then picked up around lunch time and I had a wonderful time interacting with readers and passers by, all of whom had shown genuine interest in my work. I enjoyed those small conversations immensely. And to every person who bought Moments, I cannot thank you enough and hope that you enjoy every moment you spend reading it.

I'm looking forward for more opportunities like that and if you've missed the previous two then don't forget the next event on Wednesday 20th at the Bookcase on Budaiya Highway where I will be signing copies of Moments from 5pm to 6pm. And of course the reading at La Fontaine Art Centre on September 27th at 8pm.

Moments is available on sale at Booksplus (Seef Mall and A'ali Complex), Albareh Art Gallery, and the Bookcase, in paperback, for – get this – JUST BD5!!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

While You're At It

The new interview published in the latest issue of Gulf Weekly here. I just have to clarify something though, down in the footnote my first job should say worker at ice plant (summer job) - my first full-time job was a receptionist at an accounting firm.... sigh, these journalists never check their facts do they!

And it's Josh RITTER!!!

Anyway, if you fancy reading something in Arabic then check out this interview (PDF) which ran in today's Al Wasat Newspaper.

Only hours till launch and my day has started rather quietly.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Counting Down the Moments

The fact that the drilling next door hasn't stopped all morning, me having slept less than 5 hours and going through two very hectic and busy days, all add up to a not so very great feeling. My eyes hurt and I'm still a bit drowsy. Maybe one or two cups of coffee will settle things a little.

In all in all though, I believe things are going pretty well. Yesterday the books were delivered to Booksplus, and the rest will be handed in today. I've finally, after chasing the matter for three days, managed to print the CD covers for the audio book. That wasn't at all a piece of cake.

The book itself, I'm pleased to say, looks quite stunning. The quality is good and the matted cover came out brilliant. It felt great having the actually book, physically in my hands, after so long. To think that the very first story in that collection was written no less than eight years ago is remarkable. I had waited so long to see this book finally in print. And I'm proud of the final result.

Now, I'm about to send it out into the world and see how the world will react to it. I have a feeling it will be a pleasant response. I hope so.

Don't forget to pick up the latest issue of Bahrain Traveler, featuring a 3-page interview with yours truly. The magazine will also publish a review of Moments in the October issue. Here's a sneak snippet…

"Moments is as charming as it is whimsical, deftly toeing the line of the mystical realm. Each story in this anthology is brilliantly written and ingeniously catalogued without any definitive ending, prompting readers to ponder the possibility of myriad varied conclusions. Ali uses abstract narration to effectively express subjective experiences, brilliantly managing to put a
different spin on mundane activities with such poise as to be voraciously read. Reading Moments is akin to embarking on a passage into the proverbial unknown, with Ali in the driver’s seat. So buckle up and prepare yourself for one heck of a ride!" –
Roshelle C. Fernandes, Bahrain Traveler

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Few Lines

I've had an agitated morning and I'm kind of restless.

I think I'm just worrying a bit too much. And I keep thinking I'm forgetting something but never sure what it is. This has been the case for the past couple of days at least. It's as if you're about to go on vacation and have that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you might forget your passport, or leave the house door open, or be late for your flight.

Regardless, I'm trying to focus on what's on hand. Er, maybe too much?...

In today's GDN Sara Horton writes a few lines on Moments in the paper's monthly book section.

I attended the recent Bahrain Bloggers Gathering (its 22nd edition) two nights ago and I'm glad I did. Meet a bunch of very interesting cool people and talked mostly about movies, filmmaking and literature.

And thanks to that meet-up, the Bahrain Filmmakers Club is now being resurrected. Mahmood has created a new forum which will hopefully help things pick up. So if you have an interest in filmmaking on any level, go ahead and register.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Moments Update

The publisher tells me the inside content of Moments is all printed and ready. All is left is to print the covers and then binding the whole lot. Not too long now!

There was a nice feature interview that ran in the Bahrain Tribune's City Tribune last Thursday, they were the first people to actually publish an image of the Moments cover! Unfortunately the article is not available online.

Earlier today I was interviewed over the phone for the upcoming issue of annual guide Time Out Bahrain. It was a stimulating conversation. Tomorrow I am scheduled for another interview, this time for Gulf Weekly. Oh, there was also a bit mentioned about the launch of Moments in the latest issue of Bahrain This Month, which is out now.

Last couple days I've been mostly working on some promotional material, including designing bookmarks, flyers etc. I'm down at Al Maseerah tomorrow to try and get these printed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Making It Count

Not a great deal to report I'm afraid. The dates for the book tour have been locked in so you can now plan ahead to which ones you'd like to attend... my recommendation? All of them!

Moments is in for a review at the GDN, so hopefully one will be printed in time with the launch of the book. Fingers crossed it'll be a positive one. Speaking of the GDN my second column was printed last week. And I've created a new blog/site in which you can find my weekly column Culturally Speaking, appearing one or two weeks after publication.

And speaking of sites, I've done a few new extra touches to my main website with a couple of new downloads and tidbits. And speaking of , er, newness... more thna 550 words have been written on chapter 20 of my next/second novel Buried (working title). Still feels a long way to go.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Book On Tour

Check out the confirmed dates so far for the Moments Book Tour!

The book launch will now be held on September 14th at the Al Bareh Art Gallery. The owner of the gallery was a wonderful lady and showed enthusiasm and interest in my book and willingness to host the event. So I'm looking forward to it.

Other dates are slotted over the followed couple of weeks including book signings and readings. More on that soon. There should be a press released with full details within the next few days. Stay tuned.

I had a very pleasant interview with Rochelle at the Bahrain Traveler magazine the other day and it went very well. I think it was one of the best I've had yet. The interview will be published in September's issue.

Two to three other magazines are going to run interviews/features in their next issues as well. And I'm told Khaleej Times ran a piece in today's paper but I couldn't find it online!

Couple of meetings tomorrow. Including another magazine interview and an event related meeting. I should also stop by the publisher to check things over, and get a few galley copies printed for review purposes. A number of people/publications have expressed interest in writing a review on Moments.

It seems time is catching up with me and I'll need to quicken my pace. Still lots to go over before the launch.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

In Which I Can't Bother To Come Up with a Proper Title

From the August issue of the CO-EDS magazine – which is now a monthly publication – I will be starting a 'book review section' in which you will find a few books reviews, recommendations, and other literature related articles.

Pick this month's issue to read what I have to say about Paulo Coleho's 'The Alchemist', to check out the top 5 summer/beach/sea related novels and 4 book reviews. There is also an interesting article about the 'Five Simple Ways To Improve Your English'!

Things are starting to materialize and a schedule of events and functions is beginning to take shape. Expect a busy couple of weeks follow the launch date of Moments. Not that things aren't busy now! I've been meeting people and making calls and trying to pull together a marketing, distribution and media campaigns all at once!

Not to mention that I have to keep a close tap on the publisher peeps. The book won't be ready until the first week of September so I have to make sure there are no glitches whatsoever.

And as if that's not enough, worldwide distribution isn't looking that simple to sort out. A couple of options are on the table, one of them will have to materialize.

More soon…

Monday, August 14, 2006

You Can't Miss It

Now At Booksplus, Seef
Originally uploaded by Ali Al Saeed.
Models of Success; The Journey is now available for sale at Booksplus in Seef Mall. The book is displayed on the shops front window. You can't miss it! Go on, show your support by purchasing a copy. Great gift for young adults this one.

I'm going to focus over the coming days on finalizing the details for any upcoming events for promoting Moments. Like I previously mentioned there will probably include a launch event, book signing, reading and talk. A number of venues have expressed their interest in hosting such events; it's just a matter of agreeing on a date and time.

Proofing Moments has been completed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Read It First

Be the first to read the short story Goodbye, Humanity published in Issue 4 of Capture Weekly. Click on this link to download the issue in PDF or visit the Capture Weekly website. Goodbye, Humanity will be featured in the upcoming collection Moments, and was recorded for the audio book edition as well. I hope it will give you a taste of things to come.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Culturally Speaking

… is my new weekly column published every Thursday on the Gulf Daily News.

Culturally Speaking will be Bahrain's very own culture vulture, an insight look into the world of art and literature through the eyes of a Bahraini author. No subject known to the publishing industry or the arts scene will be sacred!

Read the very first column appearing in today's GDN.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Source of Openness

Last week I was interviewed by Radio Open Source for their latest online radio show with the topic 'Generational Divide in the Middle East'. You can now listen to that interview here.

I must admit, I stuttered and stumbled a bit. You know, still get nervous sometimes. I remember the interview lasted a good part of at least half an hour! The clip is only 1 min 40 sec long.

So a lot of what I said didn't make the cut. But I think one of the things I did want to say was that there's this unspoken rule that, as the younger generation, we must listen and respect our elders. In the sense that they do most of the talking, and we either agree with what they say, or simply acknowledge it. And it's not that we don't have things to say, or are afraid to say it, it's simply the way we were brought up, out of culture and tradition.

The unfortunate truth is that the 'senior' generation has always found it difficult to put their faith in their 'junior' one, always struggled in accepting their impending role in taking this on, in showing responsibility. In some cases it's true, and the young ones usually end up disappointing you, but it gets to the point where you have to let go. You don't have to die before handing over command to those under you.

So we end up being made to feel belittled, marginalized and insignificant, and we, eventually, would snap. Years and years of oppression and repression can result in only one thing.

Another aspect I've been noticing these past few weeks is how my parents has been perceiving what's been going on with the war on Lebanon. I could feel that, watching the news unfold, it's taken them back to the 1960s era, to the day of Gamal Abdulnaser, to the long-gone days of Arab unity and patriotism.

They say history repeats itself, in one form or the other. I can see that in their eyes.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Good, The Bad & The OK!

Hits to my official website shot through the roof over the past few days! Thanks to the mention I got on Neil Gaiman's journal, the number of daily visitors quadrupled over the first few days of August.

Just goes to show really.

Make sure you visit the website to check out the latest updates and features. I know I've said this before, but I will do my best to update it regularly whenever I can. I've installed a new programme which will make life easier for me now.

The bad news…

Well not as bad as you might think, just a little disappointing (for me at least). The launch of Moments has been delayed for a few days. It's been pushed back to the 14th after the publisher felt the need for some more time to produce the book. We want to make sure that we have something pretty good at the end of the day.

But I'll leave you on a high note. The past couple of nights I wrote no less than FOUR minutes of script on Hold. This is going to be, I figure, a 90+ minute screenplay. I've written to date a total of 18.

The story involves a 'pregnant' Arab woman at the centre of a bomb threat, inside a major government building, that turns out to be more than just another terrorist attack.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In Which Gaiman Replies

Capture Weekly will be publishing Goodbye Humanity in their fourth issue which will be released next Wednesday (Aug 9). The publication is released, for now, in digital format only, and features new 'high quality fiction for free' every week.

Oh and Neil Gaiman finally answered one of my emails on his blog! Wohoo! On the third attempt, my questions went through and the reply was posted on his journal a couple of days ago (dates July 31, scroll down to see it). Ah, now I feel all special.

And finally… is there a Monster in your closet?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Making It Real

Hashim and I will be busy over the coming days producing a limited run of the Moments audio book. These will be available in time with the publication and launch of the printed collection.

All files are now with the publisher and I'm told that work is underway on converting them and installing them into the printing system. This, apparently, will take a few days. I will keep you posted on the developments as they happen.

With QuixotiQ, all I had to do was send stuff to iUniverse and they got back to me with a draft to approve. My experience so far with Al Maseerah is a lot more hands-on, so I'm learning more and more as I go along. It's fascinating to say the least.

It seems that the month of September will be packed with all manner of things, a number of events are being planned for, to promote, mainly Moments, but also Models of Success: The Journey, which is now on sale at Booksplus (Seef) for BD8 only. So go down there and get your copy… go on!

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I had a meeting today with the tech guys of Al Maseerah to talk over a few things regarding Moments, the book. It went well. But I was kind of taken aback by the lack of variety when it came to the type of paper they use for their books. They usually either use glossy paper, or normal white sheets. We will, of course, have to go with the white paper. But I was assured that the cover will be exactly how I wanted it, and that the book will be hard-bound.

I've also gotten in contact with two potential venues for the book launch. I should be meeting with one of them in the next few days to see what could be done to co-ordinate an event.

I'm sure you'll be overcome with joy and jump up and down at learning that I actually got some writing done on Buried, my second novel! Horay horay?! No?!

Well, I started with chapter 20 and have written closer to 1500 words. As you can see from the gauge bar to the right, it's not a big leap ahead, but its still progress. A slight progress has also been recorded on Against, my third novel. I've also worked a bit more on the short story Riding In The Backseat. I'm at the very end of it now and just need to wrap it up with a strong closing.

What? More news you ask? Ok, the website is still undergoing another update. There'll be a few things missing, replaced with one or two new bits. And some changes here and there. I will update it probably August 1st, in time with the release of the press release announcing the Moments book launch.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

MoS: The Journey Now Available

MoS The Journey
Originally uploaded by Ali Al Saeed.

Take a peek at the book, Models of Success: The Journey, out now in hardback from Al Maseerah Publishing.

You can purchase your copy from Booksplus, Seef Mall, for BD8 ($21) or by emailing me with your details.

The book, for now, is only available here in Bahrain. Hopefully, we'll sort out wider distribution soon.

Monday, July 24, 2006

You See, You Like, You Get

As you can see on the bar to the right, two new things. I've opened up shop at CafePress.com! Now you can get your hands on a little piece of memorabilia / merchandize with stuff like t-shirts, mugs etc. The designs – created by myself – are all going to be inspired by my work, including novels and stories.

So click on that button and browse through the shop. See anything you like? Get it. Like, now!

I've also created a myspace.com account, but I'm still trying to get a hand of it. Hopefully I'll be able to add more content to it soon enough.

Two possible writing related things are in the oven as you read this! A couple of publications (including a daily paper and a monthly mag) have asked me to contribute to them on a regular basis. Details here once confirmed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

They Said... 'Magical, 'Powerful' & 'Original'!

The first reviews are in! Jump over to the Moments website and click on the Reviews page to take a look at the early reviews pouring in from a number of published/established authors (including the wonderful Shay Youngblood) as well as academics and editors.

Just yesterday I received the latest 'mini' review from the editor-in-chief of the Gulf Daily News. It's safe to admit that I'm quite pleased with the feedback I've gotten so far on Moments and I hope there will be more to come.

It seems that the launch of Moments will be pushed back a couple of weeks to early September. That's because I'm told August is a really bad time to launch anything here in Bahrain.

I met Nijad, my publisher, again yesterday and had another positive meeting. The book is just about all ready now. The other day, I received my ISBN from the Publications Directorate, along with a publishing license (which you apparently need to publish anything in this country).

The final touches are being made on the cover designs and manuscript. More updates here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tinged With Darkness

As the world plunges into yet another dark and gloomy phase, with Israel's war on Lebanon, there is only one person that can bring the smile back to our faces, and cracks us with laughter.

I give you...

Jerry Jackson.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blowing Off Some 'Steam'

I really don't have much to say, or rather anything specific to talk about. You get these like that don't you? When there are a thousand things on your mind, and a thousand things to do, but you just can’t bother?

I watched Steamboy earlier tonight. It was another masterful Japanese animated film. I love those. Give me any Miyazaki film and I'll savor every second of it. This one was full of action and dealt with a very current subject matter, war. Great fun to watch and the animations, combined with some stunning digital imaging, makes for a thrill ride.

I also watched Running Scared last night. I wouldn't normally pick that kind of movies but it was there to rent and I went on impulse for a change. The film wasn't bad, but it wasn’t that good either. The story was intriguing and, to some extent, original. And a good chunk of it was visually appealing, but it appears that the director was one of those who had to throw in a snappy, flashy shot here and there, whenever he got the chance, which, after a while, gets really annoying.

Enough movie talk. I've been working on updating the alialsaeed.com website and I'm hoping to upload all the changes sometime during the next week or so. Over at 'Collection of Moments' website, I'm introducing a new feature. Every week, leading to the launch of the book, I will be posting a 'moment' from the stories featured in the collection.

We start with the title story Moments.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

This Week & Every Week

Click on the A Collection of Moments link to read the latest update on the project.

I'm expecting things to pick up from now on as I try to organise the producting and launch of Moments. Yesterday I had a positive session and meeting. For now though I'll leave you with this...

This Week You Will...

- Dear Wendy ****
- In Good Company ***
- Wolf Creek ***

Listen To:-
- Jenny Lewis ''Rabbit Fur Coat" *****
- Thom Yorke "The Eraser" **
- Muse "Black Holes & Revelations" ***

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Cause For A Hopeless Case

Now I know I'm not a prolific writer, if I were I'd have at least 4 or 5 completed novels hanging around by now. I go on long droughts where nothing comes out at all. Yesterday though, finally, I broke that drought. It wasn't easy, I tell you. I sat there, staring the laptop in the face, gaping at that blinking line and empty page and just willing the words out of my head, through my fingers tips, and onto the keyboard.

You see, the thing is, I have a short attention span. That's probably why I didn't fare too well at school. I space out a lot. So if I'm sitting and not writing, my head swims away with the fairies.

I wrote a bit more on chapter 20 of Buried. It wasn't much, but it felt good nonetheless. Even though, I must admit, I had thought briefly about abandoning that particular project, I can't help but think about it. It'd be a waste to drop it now. I'm relatively close to the finish.

Believe it or not, I've still not had my own copy of Models of Success: The Journey… which feels odd as I wrote the darned thing! The book has not yet been released in the local bookstores, but will let you know as soon as it does.

No more progress on the Moments film and book, but I has another session (my third) tomorrow at Mello Studio to record the third story, Bow. I'm still not quite sure how I'm going to narrate this one as it needs more tension and urgency than the previous two.

Another piece appeared in yesterday's GDN talking about the recording of the audio book, which I didn't know about till now!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Moments Make Memories

The Collection of Moments website is up and running.

You can now log onto http://www.momentscollection.wordpress.com/ for more information about the project as well as regular updates on the development of the book, the CD and the short film. More features will be added soon. Make sure you bookmark it!

There was a piece about the recording in today's Bahrain Tribune. And you can read about my account from the first session on the new website.

And the GDN ran a piece about the MoS: The Journey book in yesterday's paper.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Again & Again

I'm going into the studio in less than two hours to start recording the audio book. We are going to start with the longest story in the lineup which is Goodbye Humanity.

I'm not nervous, which I suppose is a good thing. But I hope it will all go smoothly. You will be able to read and learn all about the developments on Project Moments through a new website I am working on as we speak.

The website will be entirely dedicated to the project and its three elements, printed book, audio book and short film. I will post the link as soon as the site is up and running.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Turn Into

It appears I have spoken prematurely. The date and venue for the launch of Models of Success: The Journey has been changed. Now, it will be hosted by the National Cultural Forum at their premises in Al Musala on July 1st from 7pm onwards.

A press release will be issued within a day or two with all the details of the event and the evening's programme, which, I hear, will likely to include a screening for the film for those who missed earlier screenings.

I've done a little writing here and there the past few days. A bit on chapter 20 of Buried – which by theory should've been completed by now – and a few bits on a couple of other stories I got on the sides.

Tomorrow, I am supposed to meet up with Hashim (at Mellostudio) to pick up on things with the audio version of Moments. And for your eyes only, here is a prototype of the cover for the audio book CD package.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Upcoming Book Launch

On the evening of June 25th, Al Riwaq Art Gallery in Adliya will be hosting the official book launch of Models of Success: The Journey. Finally the book will be released after almost a two month delay from the initial launch date.

And yes, yes I know. It'll probably mean missing at least one of the two Second Round fixtures of the World Cup that day, but hey, come on, this will certainly be more fun!

There'd been a few glitches and going back and forth with this one, but the final word was that the book has finally been put to bed (gone to press) last night. Details of the event will be announced in the local media shortly.

In other news, I need a shave!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Out Of Nothing

I've completed re-editing and abridging five short stories for the planned Moments audio book. One of them is probably going to be dropped but I am not sure which one yet. The selected stories are: Bow, Lost, Goodbye Humanity, Fly Away and Beautiful Whispers.

I really found the process of re-editing and abridging very useful and was getting into it as I went along. I suppose it made me realize the truth in what I've been hearing and reading about chopping things up a bit sometimes.

I think a couple of these stories up there (such as Bow and Goodbye…) read a lot better now. The trick is to create a flow, to tightening things up and at the same time make it all clear and to the point for the reader.

Now I understand the benefits of omitting superfluous phrases and redundant words (boy did it take time or what!?), so much so that I was contemplating doing the same thing all over again through the entire manuscript of the Moments collection.

But I'm feeling pretty confident about it now. I'm hoping to meet with the published next week or so to talk about my book. Fingers crossed I can convince him to take on Moments. If he does, expect the book to come out in a month or so.

Back to the audio… Hashim at Mellostudio tells me he's all booked out until the end of the month, which means no recording sessions for me until then. We'll put a schedule together soon inshallah.

To end with, the World Cup has started. So you might hear a lot less from me over the next three to four weeks.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wouldn't Change A Thing

It may sound strange saying things, but I suppose writers feel more attached to certain stories they write, more than others. More often than not, that story wouldn't be their finest or best.

What I find sometimes is that I grow fond of one or two lines in a story. In that every time I read those lines, they make me smile, giggle or shake my head! More often than not, also, is that these lines wouldn't make any sense to anyone else, standing on their own.

Take this for example, a line taking from the children's tale in progress Pillow:

"Rana’s tummy rumbled and grumbled and made noises like the noises the little people living under her pillow made when they were singing."

Or "She ran off. Maybe she didn't like sandwiches." Which is from the short story, The Bullshitter.

There are other examples which I won't bore you with. But that made me wonder about how readers react to such lines or statements within my stories. It's hard to separate the self from your fiction.

To me that's the magic of it, to what people who read my stories get from them and how each has their own interptations.

Speaking of stories, yesterday I finished writing A Sheep Called Marlon and even though I think the story could be a lovely bedtime story, I was satisfied with how I ended it. It felt a bit rushed. Something that my Karen pointed out to me as well. And you know, she's usually right and all that.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Red Eyes

Zoetrope.com is perhaps known as one of the best established online writing communities around. The website – launched by the one and only Francis Coppola – is a more of a workshop for serious writers and filmmakers and is a great place to have your work reviewed and critiqued.

I decided to put up my first draft of the Red Hand film script. So far two members, with screenwriting and directing credits under their belts, have had positive things to say about the script, which I am understandably quite pleased with.

"The Red Hand presented a very personal slow-paced introspective story of a man's search for truth in his life. I thought your characters and their dialogue was the strength of your short script. I related to all of them. They were well described, and both their dialogue and action was generally both relevant to the story and characteristic of their roles." - Kurt St. Angelo.

"I found the story very interesting. I kept wondering about the Red Hand. It and all the other elements created a great story that kept me wondering. It was a pretty original story and was somewhat different from anything I’d read or seen before. It really felt like it had cinematic quality. So much so that I was surprised you did not make it a feature script." - Christopher Joel Traub.

Here is the overall rating the Red Hand script received:

Overall: Good
Character: Very Good
Plot: Good
Dialogue: Good
Originality: Good
Quality of Writing: Good
Cinematic Quality: Good

I'm expecting more reviews to come in and I'll share them with you once they do. Once I get enough feedback I will begin working on a new draft for the film. One issue I am facing is that it is written in English, but is based in Bahrain.

I was a little disappointed when a potential local producer turned it down last year because he felt it was a little too 'taboo' to make and that it was 'controversial'. Well, that's the whole point. We always look the other away instead of dealing with such issues in these parts of the world.

Monday, May 29, 2006

New Look Revealed

alialsaeed.com got a facelift. Check out then website’s new look.

Most of the changes, as you will notice, are to do with the basic look, layout and design. You’ll also find a couple of new things added onto the site, in addition to the previous material. I feel bad for not updating the website regularly, but from now on I will do my best to update it at least once a month.

The new color scheme is inspired by my recent trip to Sweden. I was extremely impressed by their interior design and art deco and the use of powerful, strong colours, as well as the sleek cutlines, designs and colour coordination.

Since it’s launched, the website had 6880 hits, these mostly coming from the US, followed by Great Britain, Bahrain, Canada and the UAE. So thanks to all of those who visited alialsaeed.com before and I do hope you will enjoy the ‘new look’ site.

Watch out for further features, additions and extras in the near future.

The past few days also saw me writing a few hundreds words. I started on chapter 20 of Buried – which I’ve contemplated abandoning for some time – and worked a bit more on a short story, A Sheep Called Marlon.

On a personal note, today wasn’t really a very nice day. I had to pull out a rotten tooth, a visit to the dentisit that I’ve been putting off for months. The doctor spent the better part of half an hour trying to yank out my tooth.

I can still taste my own blood and I’ve got a bad headache.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ban Da Vinci Code!

Bahrain is supposed to be one of the most open-minded countries, yet it is one of the few contemplating banning the Da Vinci Code film.

In yesterday’s GDN there was an article ‘Ban Film call by Catholics’ saying that the Christian community in Bahrain is against the film and are trying to ban it. There is no final word yet from the authorities whether it will be banned or screened. Read what I had to say about the issue.

Now I’m not a Da Vinci Code fan. Not the read book, nor will I see the film anyways, but all this talk about banning and censorship is quite disturbing. As an artist, that’s the last thing I want to hear.

The irony in the situation is that the Da Vinci Code novel, and all of the dozen related books that came about it, are widely available in the local market here, in both Arabic and English. So why the fuss?

It seems that people separate the two (book from film) and I just can’t grasp that.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hard Candy

In today's GDN was an article headlined 'Minister backs writers' in which the Minister of Information is said to have pledged to back local writers and authors and support the literary scene in the country. Read the full piece here.

I was grateful to have been given the Book of the Year Award for QuixotiQ by the Culture & Arts directorate. But we (writers, artists and the like) want more than just the occasional award or programme here and there. We need long term schemes implemented through a special council for the arts, we need all forms of support and backing, monetary and otherwise.

In the UK alone there are several organizations such as the British Council, the Arts Council and hundreds of other similar bodies that provide all sorts of incentives and support. The words of Dr Abdul Ghaffar are good to hear but we want action to go along with that, something tangible.

We can only hope that these words will be more than just that... words.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Caught In The Rain

The voice test session went pretty well, I reckon. Hashim and I spent about two hours chatting and talking about what exactly we want to do with this audio book, and then I took the plunge and walked into the studio.

I read Lost which is described as “a wondrous yet frightening journey through the imagination” by author and poet Peter Tomlinson. The rough cut of the first take was a little over 20 minutes; the story is 2000+ words. But that gave us (and me in particular) an idea how long these things usually take to read!

My next task is first select only 4 to 5 stories to feature in the CD – keeping in mind length, as we are aiming for a roughly 1-hour long audio book – and then to abridge them accordingly.

As for my narration, Hashim reassures me that it’s alright; with a little more practice it could be better. It wasn’t easy at all, trying to focus on the pages, make your voice clear, pronounce each word correctly, pace it right and more significantly, embody the emotions/feeling from paper through your voice! But Hashim (and I) are confident we’ll get it right.

I have to say though, that I was very impressed by the Mellostudio facilities. The lounge and actual recording space/studio were very relaxing and warm. It’s just a place you wouldn’t mind spending regular time in!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Check Out My New Boots

A new blog created by myself for all the football fanatics out there. This is not going to be your average football blog, its where the reveloution begins...

White Boots is gonna kick the crap outta football!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

World Wide Suicide

A couple of mornings ago, I couldn’t sleep. And all of a sudden I felt an instant urge to write. It was around 4am. I got up. Put my laptop on and began typing away. I ended up writing the first 10 minutes of a new screenplay of a feature-length film!

Its working title is Hold and it’s a thriller that deals, in a vague way, with terrorism. The general premise is that a pregnant Arab woman is caught in the middle of a suicide bombing plot at a big government building.

This would be my second film-script (third of you count Moments as well), after my Red Hand adapted screenplay, which is still in first draft phase. If I keep at this rate, I should complete Hold in around two weeks. I’m thinking it’ll be a 95-minute (give or take) long film. Hopefully, I’ll manage to keep the tempo goin’.

Project Moments got a big blow when one of the people I was counting on had to pull out for personal reasons, which basically means now, that if I am to go ahead with the film, I’ll probably have to do it all by myself. I think I’ve got a Plan B though, to minimize resources, crew and elements required to make it.

In any case, we are going ahead with the audio book. Sometime tomorrow afternoon I will be at Hashim’s (aka Alfanan, of Mellostudio) studio to do a voice test during which I’ll read excerpt of a couple of stories from the collection, to see how they (and I) sound! Apart from the few readings I’ve done, I’ve not recorded anything before so I hope I do well. (Although I was assured that I did pretty good during my voice test for narrating Models of Success.) I’ll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Burning Benches

I've not posted any updates here on the MoS project in the past couple of weeks or so because, frankly, there weren't many. But you might be interested to learn that at long last, Models of Success: The Journey, is in the press as you read this and that it shall be ready within a week or so.

The second draft of the Small Moments film script is just about completed and I've begun breaking the scenes and shots. I will need a very small crew to help me shoot this film, and once I've locked in everything (script, shot list, production scedhule, locations) I'll be posting my requirments for cast and crew.

For those intersted in music, you can read my new review of Josh Ritter's latest album The Animal Years up on Ear Medicine.

Friday, May 12, 2006

You're All I Have

Over the past couple of days I’ve had two encouraging meeting regarding my next project. This is something that I’ve been developing seriously for the past one or two months and is basically creating a unique ‘package’ inspired by the collection of short stories. Project Moments will present you not only with a 22-story paperback book, but also (hold breath)... an audio book AND a short film!

The audio book will feature a selection of the stories from the collection, ones that will reflect the sort of content people will find in the book, think of it as a teaser, and will also probably include some poetry recital. Now, usually, audio books aren’t narrated by the author himself, that is why I am even more keen on doing it myself!

The first draft of the screen-script has just been completed; it’s an adaptation of the title story, Moments. But it still needs a lot of tweaking and adjustments. A few things will be altered and changes and added.

I am excited about the concept and I believe that it’s not been done before, at least not in the context of how I aim to do it. A lot of details need to be sorted but I’m hoping that things will start materializing within the next week or two. Will keep you posted.

That will be my main focus from now on. I will try to get some new writing done but I’ve been seriously contemplating the fate of Buried these past few weeks. I am considering abandoning it or putting it on the shelf. I don’t feel I’m very confident about it and I’m struggling to write the last parts of it. Now I had felt the same way about QuixotiQ, when I got to the same stage, but the difference is I didn’t know what was going on with QuixotiQ, and with Buried I know exactly what is going to happen! So maybe that is why I’m feeling this way about it, in a very twisted and obscure way.

I wonder how often other writers face this dilemma, and what their solution is.

(my Flickr has new photos, check’em out!)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hypnotic Reflections

You can now read an insightful review of QuxiotiQ by Tooners over at Hypnotic Verses. It’s a thorough look into the story and its characters wherein Tooners talks about her own impressions and reflections on it. Here’s a snippet:

"The story is very descriptive. Ali has a good way of describing situations and bringing you into his world and the world of the characters. I could feel a connection w/ all of the characters and have had dreams that are vital to situations, and have felt the tug of trying to make the right decisions in life and what life deals to me, and sometimes even getting a bad gutt feeling about something, but having no other choice but to do it anway. This is what these characters did. They lived their lives."

Remember, you can always get your own copy of QuixotiQ online via Amazon and the likes, or, if you're in Bahrain, from Al Riwaq Art Gallery or Booksplus, or failing that, just drop me a line.

I've been listening to some brilliant bands online which come highly recommended: Howling Bells, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kooks, The Vines, Wolfmother, Snow Patrol, Morning Runner and the Concretes. Check them out! I demand!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Give It To Me Baby

I am taking part in the Donard Publishing short story competition with three stories. The competition is based on public voting system so please visit the website, read my entires and vote for them! Pass on the information to everyone you know and ask them to vote as well.

My entries are: #139 - The Purple Rose, #140 - A Touch of Gloss, and #141 - The Bullshitter.

Thank you.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Come Back To What You Know

It was wet and freezing when I arrived late at night in Stockholm, having lost one entire day of the conference. Over the next two days, the sun shone, but it remained freezing cold, and I sat through a number of discussion sessions and workshops and listened to papers presented by academics and writers from all over the world.

It was a real treat to be surrounded by all these wonderful, smart people and I was glad I could make it (thanks to Art, specifically, and Gulf Air for their support in making it happen). Even though I’m not an academic myself, some of the stuff that were brought to the table were eye-opening to say the least.

One of the questions that I found myself facing was: does my writing in English makes me feel colonized? A valid and important question, but one which had not crossed my mind before. I think it was simply because I was writing in the language that I felt a) comfortable with, and b) enable me to communicate with the masses. I will try to elaborate on that topic in a future post.

My only complain is that the conference programme was too congested and there was no breather between sessions so that by the last day, most people made their great escapes, which meant lesser audiences for the screening of Models of Success (which, I am happy to report, went quite well despite a minor technical glitch). The film received some positive feedback and encouraging comments, which was nice to hear.

Apart from the conference though, I enjoyed my brief stay in Stockholm. This was my first visit to Scandinavia and if I were to sum up Sweden in two words, I’d say ‘Efficient Beauty’! Everything was efficient, and, eh, beautiful. The old buildings, the subway (with different themes for every station), and my favuorite of all, the interior design. I’ve always heard of Swedish furniture and interior design and now I know why. Their use of space and bright colours is soothing.

The Swedes were also very nice people. Always helpful with a smile. One of my fondest memories will probably be the evening when what had started as a couple of bored people wanting to spend some time in the city, into a full-blown tribe attack to one of Stockholm’s hippest bars. (Does anybody know what a Noneckguy is!?)

It was a really rewarding cultural experience, in both the academic and social sense of the word. Check out some of the photos from Stockholm on my flickr account. I will be adding more soon.

I will also let you know about my brief stint in Frankfurt in another post.