After publishing his seventh novel, iRead team sat down with the prominent novelist and scriptwriter Ahmed Mourad to explore his newest novel Locandt Bir El Watawyt which translates as The Bats Well Hotel, for us to hear all about it, and the inspiration behind it…
What inspired you to dive into the world you created in the novel?
Firstly, I noticed we have a shortage of serial-killing novels, we don’t have the literature that covers this area. Secondly, crime fiction is stigmatized as popular literature, and the term “popular” is wrongly used, describing it as popular means it’s loved and appreciated by the mass, not that it’s low level or quality.
Thirdly, the 1865 period is a bit concealed, and we know next to nothing about it in the history of literature, so without question, this stimulated me to write about it. Therefore I wanted to create a mixture of all the things I long to read about but didn’t find in Arabic literature.
Are there true events or characters in the story?
The whole story is pure fiction. The novel takes place in a time that actually existed. Some factors and characters are real, but of course, all that occurs in the novel are works of the imagination.
The novel is inspired by reality, but it went into a fiction area that I’ve never tried before in any of my previous novels. For the novel to be revolving around the experience of a schizophrenic paranoid person, it definitely leads to a new result in writing.
Were the readers’ reactions to the novel as you expected?
No matter how hard you try, the reader always surprises you. Some readers got the trick of the novel, and that I will play with the paranoia and schizophrenia card, and that this is the diary of a madman after all, so we have to follow his madness and see where he will lead us.
Some other readers didn’t get this point or didn’t completely grasp it, so they wondered how a man can call himself a messenger of God, what they missed is the fact that one of the symptoms of paranoia and schizophrenia is the patient thinking they are magnificent. Other readers started judging the character, thinking it’s promoting a way of thinking, even though it’s just a novel.
Is there a certain message you wanted to deliver through the story?
The message of a novel makes it carry more than its capacity, the main message should be for people to enjoy and be entertained; to read about a different era, to live an unusual experience. Don’t believe novels, they are after all just a tool to tell tales, we should enjoy them without conditions and pressure on them.
Every reader can come out with a message on their own, and it will be a special product for them. Furthermore, we should learn not to read history from novels, if we want to, we should turn to history books that study eras and facts.
What do you say to people who are about to read the novel?
Put aside all your convictions, just read without resisting the events of the novel. Don’t try to analyze it, just try to solve the mysteries and live the experience with the main character. Don’t be afraid of the taboos that you might feel were broken because novels are written to break taboos; slavery was at a time legal, and some of the main factors that helped put a stop to it were stories, novels and movies.
Art gives a nice color to everything.