By: Markos Papadatos, Senior Editor
Acclaimed author, reporter, and speaker Chaker Khazaal chatted with HNA about his latest book, “Life Dice (Chapter One)” and his inspiration behind it.
Khazaal has published four books, including Tale of Tala, which was an Amazon bestseller and picked up an award from ITP Publishing in Dubai. Life Dice, his fifth and newest novel, has been delayed due to COVID-19 book fair cancellations. He has decided to share one chapter of the book. While most authors keep their books undercover until release day, he decided to give his readers a preview.
“COVID-19 has forced us to stay home, cancel events, book fairs, everything,” he said. “Looking at delays, I decided to share one chapter of Life Dice as a literature experiment. Get people part of the book and let them share their opinion with me, and who knows; I might change the plot of my finished novel. It’s an experiment; it might work, and it might not.”
“Today, we have been limited to life experiences by being forced to stay home; so we need to shift our focus on creating new kinds of experiences during and post this crisis,” he added.
Khazaal remarked, “Today we are coping with the impact of the Coronavirus on our lives; and being a writer, I have to allow my books to cope with the changing circumstances, and thanks to technology, we found a way to share a part of the novel, engage the audience, and redefine the readers’ experience while waiting to see what’s next for us as a global community.”
For Life Dice, he went deep into the thick of things, traveling to Iraq where you interviewed Yazidis, Kurdish Fighters and internally displaced people.
On his inspiration to write this book, he explained, “My mentor and Life Dice Creative Director, Ayman Jomaa, gave me the initial idea of writing a novel about Gambling. He is passionate about fighting this addiction in innovative ways of utilizing technology. At the same time, I always knew that I want to introduce the Yazidi genocide in a different way to people. We can’t forget what happened to thousands of Yazidis in Iraq by the terror of ISIS. Putting two together and seeing how life is a matter of luck sometimes, I came up with the plot for Life Dice.”
“The Yazidi refugee in America trying to win one million dollars in the casinos of Las Vegas to free Farida; his wife captured by ISIS in Iraq as a sex slave. The contrast between the two timelines of the story is what got me excited to write it and tell the story from a very non-traditional way,” he elaborated.
Khazaal partnered with Ayman Z. Jomaa of Numbase Group to create an interactive app, which lets people check out clips based on events in his book, as well as providing them with more information.
On creating this app, he said, “This is all Ayman’s innovative brain. Ayman pushed me to redefine the reader’s experience in all ways possible. Together, we thought of adding visuals to the traditional book. Readers can scan a code on the printed book and watch a clip correlating to what they just read. There are other cool features that extend the reader’s experience to a re-imagined relationship with the book, the way we’ve always known it.”
“We also added a feature where readers can be satisfied with the way the novel ends, leaving the rest to their imagination, or they can roll the dice on the app and one of six different endings will load. The Chaker-Ayman partnership in Life Dice allowed technology to rethink literature,” he said.
He noted that everybody is in quarantine, everywhere. “I am taking time to work on Life Dice and experiment with technology and literature while self-isolating. Coming up with ideas, implementing, trying, it is fun to do. I want to disrupt literature and thinking of all sorts of ways to do so with this project,” he said.
“As writers, we have a responsibility today to advocate for reading when people may have that extra time in quarantine,” he said. “And today we, everyone involved in the literature industry, are competing with many other giants leading with innovation to capture their audience. It is one of those times where the future is unclear to humanity; this doesn’t mean we have to be fearful. Instead, it is a time to reflect, plan, think, and to create.”
Aside from writing, he loves exciting projects and he is involved with many of them. “Working with Ayman Jomaa and the Numbase Group, I got to reconnect with a passion of mine: technology. I am currently involved in an app called HereYouGo. To save trees and to avoid germs, HereYouGo replaces the traditional business card with a digital one that is interactive and cool to use,” he said.
Life Dice (Chapter One) is available on Amazon by clicking here.
Photo Courtesy of Chaker Khazaal