15-02-2017

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the 2017 Festival?

Writing is a pretty solitary occupation, and it’s only really at festivals like these that I tend to meet other authors that I admire and enjoy. In Dubai this year, I’m looking forward to seeing Eric Van Lustbader, Kathy Reichs, Jeffrey Archer, Peter Hamilton, Jon Ronson, Simon Scarrow, and screenwriter Andrew Davies.

Which book has inspired you the most?

Hard to pick one book, really. There are several memorable reading experiences though… Hemingway’s books, including “The Sun Also Rises”, when I was a young teen; “Marathon Man”, one of the first thrillers I read, almost in one sitting (it’s not a very long book); “The Firm” when it first came out; “The Shadow of the Wind”, for its lyricism and charm; “Savages”, for its originality and raw power…

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

It used to be to give my daughters a hug and a kiss, but that was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, when they were little and before they went to university. Nowadays, it’s far less inspired: a big pot of tea, some Lebanese breakfast stuff, and a trawl through the depressing headlines online and perhaps more inspiring Instagram posts. I leave email until later in the day.

What is your life’s motto?

We get one life, so better live it to the max. Somewhat, but not too, responsibly.

Our theme for the 2017 Festival is Journeys. Can you tell us which journeys in your life have been most memorable? 

I suppose my journey to becoming a bestselling author was one that was accidental and not planned, suffused with good and bad luck and in many ways beyond my control. Starting out as an architect in Beirut with no intention of changing that and ending up as a novelist and screenwriter in London has been a long and surprising journey, but within that, and from a purely career point of view, getting The Last Templar published was probably the most memorable part of it.