Intermissions Author Q&A: Abdullah Aljumah

Abdullah Aljumah is a bilingual and bicultural writer, with a Master’s Degree in Linguistics from Eastern Michigan University. His short stories have been published in anthologies and literary reviews such as the Running Wild Anthology of Stories Volume 3 & 4 (2019/2020), Rubbertop Review Volume 11 (2020), and Writers of Tomorrow (2021). He writes short stories and poems revolving around childhood experience, hypocrisy, religion conflicts, forced or arranged marriages.

What is your writing process?

I write by the seat of my pants, mostly without prior planning and I see where the piece leads me. Usually, it starts off as an idea crystalized on my mind from books I read, or from a tweet I wrote, a scene I watched on TV, or a miserable event I know or heard about. The short pieces I write are usually finished in one sitting, otherwise they never get completed. The revision, however, lasts a few days or a couple of weeks, depending on the length of the work. In fact, if I don’t revise it right away on the following days, I kill it; it gets buried on my computer, and I rarely go back to it.

Tell us about your story for the anthology. Where did your idea for ‘The Last Soul of Iraq’ come from? Were there any challenges writing it?

The idea of the story sprang forth from a documentary show I watched about Iraq and the poverty that ensued from the Gulf War. On that same night I watched several YouTube videos about Iraq and the miserable life of Iraqi kids whose fathers were lost in the war, especially those who were forced to quit school and went begging or pushing carts to make a living. I watched their tiny, dilapidated houses and visualized their despair. Despite the woeful life they’d endured, they kept singing, reciting verses of poetry innocently. While thinking of those unfortunate events, I despaired over how to make the interrupting scenes realistic – writing those scenes with old men gossiping, changing them to females, then finally to innocent kids, in order to conclude this tiny piece with a heart-breaking ending.

Your story captures the tragedy so many families faced during the Gulf War. Is this particular story one you’d consider turning into a larger work?

I’d love to be able to expand it to a full-fledged novel. To tell you the truth, I’ve been working on a novel for several years now. A couple of its scenes were actually published in the States. I was afraid I’d give up on writing all together and started drafting short stories and, luckily, most of them were published or will be published soon.

Tell us about your favourite reads. Why do you like them?

When I learned English, I started my literature journey with the classics, but now I read any book that I lay my hands on, especially the international bestsellers and those that were made into movies. My favorite books are many, but chief among them that I can recall are: Grapes of Wrath for Steinbeck’s ability to woefully points inhumanity to man and the significance of his dignity, Moby Dick for the limitation of knowledge Melville pinpoints, Angela’s Ashes for the coming-of-age events McCourt depicts, The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne for his splendid descriptions of guilt and evil, The Kite Runner by Hosseini for its redemption quest and the tension it raises between fathers and sons,  and finally, the Forty Rules of Love for its exemplary exploration of relationships between man and ourselves, and, most importantly, its call for unity.

How did you hear about GSP?
I came across your press while searching Submittable. I checked out your website and Twitter account and, then, added you to my list.

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