Local » Former Fujairah resident on way to realize a dream after becoming published author

Former Fujairah resident on way to realize a dream after becoming published author

Andrew J Keir gifMany of us harbour dreams and aspirations, perhaps even from childhood, of achieving something more than the run-of-the-mill career; something we feel to be more worthwhile and stimulating, glamorous even.  


Once in a while that dream comes true for some people, and the more benevolent souls among us rejoice, feel inspired and draw strength to hang-on even tighter to their own hopes of a more ‘meaningful’ life. 


Now living in Abu Dhabi, former Fujairah teacher, Andrew Keir, must have daydreamed about becoming a published author when he was commuting to and from work through the mostly deserted roads of Al-Fassel. 


Scottish-born, Andrew J Keir, started with short stories and was the first writer to be shortlisted twice for the Kitab/M Magazine short story prize, the largest prize in the Middle East for short stories in the English language (The Sirens' Song - 2009 and Moving Messages - 2010). His story Moving Messages was runner up in the 2010 competition.


Keir told Fujairah Observer of his time in Fujairah, his first novel, “Bloody Flies” and what his next project is.   

Fujairah Observer: When and how did you come to live in Fujairah? And what- if any - impact did your time here have on you as a person and/or writer? 


Andrew J. Keir: My wife and I arrived in Fujairah during the summer of 2001. I’d been recruited to teach business at Fujairah Women’s College. It was my first experience of living outside the UK and I enjoyed the “well to do” lifestyle and interacting with people from different parts of the world.


Naomi and I made a lot of friends and started our family here, so the city holds many happy memories. Fujairah also sowed the seeds for a number of my stories.


F.O: Bloody Flies is your first novel; tell us briefly what is it about?

Bloody Flies is composed of twelve episodes – spread over ten years – that represent key events in, and around, the life of Leo Hunter. Leo is an English expat who lives in Abu Dhabi with his wife and children. A tragedy occurs and this event alters the path of Leo’s life.

A.K: The UAE expatriate lifestyle, and issues, featured in your book have not had quite the scrutiny and study in literature before; why do you think that is? 

I think there is a tendency for English language writers to concentrate on the glamour and wealth of the UAE, and that Emirates based writers who want to discuss meatier subjects tend to look elsewhere in the Middle-East where there is plenty of grist for the mill. With Bloody Flies I wanted to change things and get the UAE to look at itself in a more honest way.


Book Flies gifF.O: Do you have plans for further exploration of the lives of expatriates in the UAE and have you thought about the experiences of Emiratis and non-Western expatriates, in particular?  

A.K: I’m currently working on a historical novel set in Scotland, so the UAE stories will be put on hold for a while. But I’m sure I’ll return to them at some point, because I have a number of ideas that are bursting to get out.

I have thought a great deal about the experiences of Emiratis and non-western expats, as some episodes in Bloody Flies show. But, I must admit I’m more comfortable writing about the people I know best. I think that’s why I tend to write western expats in the first person and non-westerners in the third. 


F.O: Given the conservative nature of the country in which the story plays out- and which now constitute your home- to what extent does self-censoring play a role in writing such a novel, if at all? And is it true your novel can not be published in Abu Dhabi? 

A.K: Self-censoring has played a role in Bloody Flies. I want the story and its observations to be read in the UAE, and to do that I must endeavour not to offend too many people. That said, you can’t please all the people all the time.

Bloody Flies is being published in the UK so I haven’t needed to publish it in Abu Dhabi. However, it has been difficult finding a distributor in the UAE but I think this is due to me being a new writer, rather than the content of the book.


F.O: What is your next project? And what are your aspirations for the medium and long-term future as an up-and-coming writer?   

A.K: I’m working on two new projects. The first is a picture book for children about a spaceboy. I’ve written the words and my friend, the artist Laura Dempsey, is painting the pictures. The second project is an historical novel about Cinaed mac Alpin, who was arguably the first king of Scotland.

My aspirations are to keep writing, to have my books read and to continue enjoying life with my family in the UAE.


Fuad Mohammed Ali 


* Bloody Flies is currently available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk in paperback and ebook, and will be fully released in the UK in June. UAE customers are also able to purchase the book cash-on-delivery through Andrew’s website www.andrewjkeir.net.


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