Eman Nabil reminds us that there's always time for a change... on the Arab sci-fi scene

Image credits: ALIEN GOO: A screenshot from 'Men in Black' (1997), a humorous take on the alien invasion epic.

Eman Nabil’s ‘The Result of a Change’ (2018) is a complicated sci-fi novel. It is a story of a group of teens, aliens who look curiously human, tasked with saving the Earth and everyone on it from an outer space invasion that takes England as its planned beachhead.

To add to the complexity, the novel is told several times, from every character's perspective among the band of heroes, with individual scenes and sequences retold more than once.

It’s like watching ‘Station Eleven’, with additional details that expand your comprehension of the events. Finally, it’s written from start to finish in English, even though Tweeta publishes it from Egypt.

I had to speak to the author to get the low down on the novel.

By Emad Aysha
First of all, tell me about yourself. Your education, career and what drew you to writing?
“I’m currently a senior student at Mansoura Manchester Program, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, but I was born and raised in Taif, KSA, where I spent about 12 years in a Pakistani International School before moving to Egypt in 2017.

I’ve been an avid reader ever since I can remember; my mother used to get me all sorts of stories in both Arabic and English at the prime age of 6, and I used to hang out at our school library very often; I’d already read multiple series (Harry Potter, Yuck, A Series Of Unfortunate Events) long before I owned my first book, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, at the age of 12.

I always credit this thirst for fictional worlds and my mother’s encouragement in early childhood as what drew me to writing.

Writing came to me naturally afterwards. I'd written two –a bit childish – illustrated short stories a couple of years before I got the idea for TROAC, and it was very much encouraged by my English teacher, MS Ghazala, who was why I fell in love with English literature.”

SHELF LIFE: Eman Nabil's interesting alien invasion novel has gone unnoticed in the English press for too long.

What gave you your inspiration for the story?
“It was more of a spontaneous decision than an inspiration; I’d wanted to do it for a long time before I finally thought, You know what, let’s just give it a shot.

When I was 14, Wattpad was shared among us, and my friends pushed me to start writing a story and upload it chapter by chapter, so a couple of months later, when an idea hit, I jumped right away on the same night.

A concept more or less inspired the story itself that I felt so strongly about at the time: that evil is rooted in humanity, but love and sacrifice are the only way it can thrive,  and the fun part about it is that I wasn’t entirely sure about it until the very last word of the novel, it helped me unlock a piece of myself with it along the way.”

Technically, your novel has no one hero, but the protagonist is Zoey, the secret of her conception being the cure for the invasion. Was the central character female?
Yes, I needed to make the protagonist female; it was the only way to give myself a voice and understand the character more. I had to put myself in her shoes to write her story, and I couldn’t have done it as well as I did had the central character been male.”

Why did you write it in multi-perspective form? And why in English?
I wanted to tell the story from all sorts of possible angles to provide a complete picture without having to opt for the limited third-person perspective, so I used first-person perspective for a deeper connection between the reader and the characters, but also shifted views to gain the advantage of a third person perspective.

Why in English? As I said earlier, I grew up in a Pakistani International School ever since I was 4. Being an Arab minority in a Pakistani majority environment, English was the only language we used daily, so I grew up bilingual. Picking English as my language of choice was easy; it was – and still is – the language in which I predominantly think and express my thoughts and feelings.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Eman Nabil in person reminding us that reality is never black and white.

Finally, what are your plans? Is a sequel in the offing?
No, there’s no sequel. This story was meant to be a standalone, and I’d like to leave it that way. As for my plans, I’m trying to get my novel ‘Apartheid’ published abroad, but I’m still looking for an agent.

I’ve also begun working on a psychological thriller, but the process is a bit slow because of school and the hustle that comes with it. I no longer have the time I had when I was 14, but it’s a project I’m very excited about.”

 

Emad Aysha

Academic researcher, journalist, translator and sci-fi author. The man with the mission to bring Arab and Muslim literature to an international audience, respectably.
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