Interview with longlisted author Lina Huyan Elhassan


When did you begin writing The Ruler of the Two Fortresses and where did the inspiration for it come from?

The idea came to me four years ago. I wrote a manuscript draft, but I felt that the concept needed more time to ferment in my mind. So I concentrated working on another novel, Antakya and the Kings of Darkness, which was published two years ago. Then I returned to work on The Ruler of the Two Fortresses. The draft was changed several times until I felt it had reached its final form and I was happy with it.

Where did the inspiration come from?! I was really telling the truth in the introduction to the novel, and as I mentioned there, there is a personal story which made me write it. 

Did the novel take a long time to write? And where were you when you finished it?

I live in the city of Beirut, with two cats and many books. I worked on The Ruler of the Two Fortresses for nearly four years. However, I left it and finished writing another novel during those four years, returning to work on The Ruler of the Two Fortresses several times until it took its final form.

Do you have your writing rituals?

I write constantly. I wake up at five in the morning. I start writing at six, until nine-thirty. During this time, I have breakfast. At around ten o’clock, I go out to get some exercise, walking. Most of the time in the evenings is dedicated to reading.

Note that I don’t watch television and I don’t have a screen on which to watch things in my house. It’s enough for me to go regularly to the cinema.   

What is your next literary project after this novel?

It’s hard to say exactly what I will write. There are long periods when all I do is read. I cannot say what I will end up writing after The Ruler of the Two Fortresses.