lundi 9 février 2015

Interview with longlisted author Maha Hassan

When did you begin writing Female Voices and where did the inspiration for it come from?

I began the novel four years ago. I don’t know if it was about inspiration or obsession because I wrote it in stages. It began with a passing daydream which usually comes to me in the form of an image while I’m on the subway or in the street or while keeping busy with something other than writing. Then I went to paper to develop the dream. This is the only novel, in ten years, that I began on paper, not on a computer as I usually do.

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

It took about three years. I had been living in France the whole time and I wrote every moment of the novel there. In fact, I wrote the last chapter sitting on a bench in the pavement of the subway station, where I missed getting on the subway because I wanted to put down the main points in my notebook before I wrote it at home in the manuscript.

How have readers and critics received it?

I was surprised by the feedback. I don’t want to praise myself, but I am sure that I was surprised by the positive feedback from those who were touched by my female voices and from many levels of readers. Some professional, i.e. critics and writers, and others who read for the joy of reading. I received many messages describing the chemistry that reached the reader through my voices. Others posted quotes from the novel on their social media pages. I will not deny that this set me free from within. The reader saves the writer from isolation and from the phobia of oblivion.

What is your next literary project after this novel?

I am an ongoing writing workshop. I never stop writing. As I said in the first page of Female Voices and in the second paragraph to be exact: “I was born to narrate.” I always have many preoccupations. I haven’t yet decided which work I will publish. I have two works that are ready, which is maybe funny, but I am a writing machine that never stops.