Monday, May 29, 2006

New Look Revealed 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 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.