Interview with Longlisted Author Ahmed al-Morsi

22/01/2024

When did you start writing Gambling on the Honour of Lady Mitsy and where did the inspiration for it come from?

The initial idea came to me in 2020, and then came the stage of preparation for the writing, gathering information and doing research, which took two years. The actual writing took a year. The inspiration came from a question which had plagued me for a long time: what should a person do at the end of his life, when he is burdened by many unfulfilled hopes? I discovered that his freedom from the slavery of these hopes must lie in letting go of them. This is why I began the novel with the sentence “Fawzan al-Tahawi died without hopes”. Fawzan is the only one of the novel’s characters who triumphs over his disappointments in life.

Did the novel take long to write and where were you when you finished it?

The novel took three years of preparation and writing, including research, visiting places, conducting interviews with people who helped me, and the final writing. While all this was taking place, I was living in the coastal city of Damietta and in Cairo. I finished the first draft in Cairo, before sending it to the publisher.

Do you have writing rituals?

Usually I listen to music while writing. I believe that music is a language in itself. Through music, you can tell a story. I visualize scenes unfolding before me in my imagination and in the background is their soundtrack. Then I record them on paper just as I have seen them, infused with emotion.

Music gives another emotional dimension to the written scene. I have discovered that some readers love to listen to music while reading, so music is a language of communication too.

What is your next literary project after this novel?

I have begun to write a novel about accepting others who are different from us, and how we can live alongside them. It shows how a person’s view of his enemy can change, if he gets close enough to him.