Abdelkader Benali was born in Morocco and has been living in the Netherlands since 1979. He is the author of Wedding by the Sea and his work is included in Beirut39, an anthology for new Arabic writing

1. What was your first phone?

A Nokia. Grey. Big.

2. Who/What inspired you to write?

The stories of my grandmother. She would always tell us that we should read and write. It felt like she was trying to save us.

3. When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

When I wrote my first story as a child. It felt like performing a mind trick. Suddenly I disappeared and the storytelling took over.

4. What is your writing routine?

Coffee. Newspaper. Dreams.

5. Have you ever suffered writer’s block? What did you do to overcome it?

Yes, many. You can’t really overcome it, just sit and wait till it passes by. But nowadays I can’t afford a writersblock anymore: i have a mortgage.

6. What’s your advice to writers (especially up & coming ones)?

When young, travel and see the world. And develop your instinct for observation, learn to look. When older: stop travelling and start writing. But keep
a good observers eye.

7. If you were to change jobs, what profession would you get into?

Manager of marathon runners.

8. If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what
would you say to them?

The first African winner of the Olympic Marathon, Abebe Bikila. And Abraham Lincoln. And my grandfather around 1900.

9. What is the longest period you have gone without a shower?

At least a week…in Gaza

10. If I came to your home and looked inside the refrigerator, what would I find?

Marmelade. Aubergine. Fresh parseley and coriander.

11. Of the all places you’ve been to, which one is the most beautiful? Why?

I went on safari in the Serengeti park, Tanzania, and I still cant believe how beautifull it was. My big love is West-Africa, its landscape, people and customs make it something out of a old book. In Mali I had many dreams.

12. What is your favourite book & movie?

Favourite book: The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux and film: Pulp Fiction by Tarantino. They both redefined the genre.

13. What are you currently reading?

The enigma of arrival by V.S.Naipaul.

14. If you were deserted on an abandoned island what 5 things would you want to have?

  • Books.
  • Iphone.
  • Typemachine.
  • Beer in a can.
  • And some shadow.

14. If you were a car, which one would you like to be? Why?

Big question. A Toyota Landcruiser, for the riding in rough terrain. Audi a8, because of its curves.

15. From a very general perspective, how do you handle change?

Very relaxed, I don’t like stress so try to avoid it. I have being living my whole live with change, is has become something natural. But if i can say something as somebody who has grown up in a turbulent time: it’s great to develop your talent under pressure. It’s very rewarding.

16. If you had a superpower, what would you like it to be?

The power of love.

17. What is the latest track you’ve downloaded on your iPod?

This incredible Iraqi lute player Khayyam, just mind-blowing.

18. When was the last time you cried?

I cry in my sleep. And sometimes when I look at our cat.

19. When were you happiest?

Travelling this summer through Central-America, being in Nicaragua on the island of Omotepe and meeting nice people made me feel like a million!

20. Who should we follow on Twitter?

Me! I don’t have a clue actually.