Interview with Qais Sedki – Part 1 (@qsedki)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

By Iman Ben Chaibah,

Qais Sedki is the author of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award winning book: “Gold Ring”, the first Arabic book done on the Japanese Manga style. This interview is divided into two parts and is published on June and July. In this part the interview you will be reading about Gold Ring the book, and about the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. The next part will be the personal and inspirational side of Qais Sedki.

  1. Define Gold Ring in your words
  2. Gold Ring as a product, it is the first classical Arabic graphical novel done in an authentic Japanese Manga style. Gold Ring is also the first series title under PageFlip publishing brand.

  3. What do you aim to achieve through Gold Ring?
  4. I think of “Gold Ring” as a vehicle to accomplish a lot of things beyond just selling a book. I would like to use Gold Ring to instill a lot of positive values in the youth, and I think the best way to do that is through entertainment.

    I also hope that Gold Ring would encourage more people to join the scene, and enrich the writing industry with more varieties.

  5. What were your initial steps towards endeavoring into Arabic Manga books before the actual production?
  6. Manga is like a movie in a book format, you can feel the action, the tension, and the ups and downs. Looking to the fact I was not an author, I realized that I would need to learn more about script writing rather than book writing.

    The next step was to write stories synopses; one-pagers summaries of different story lines. I wrote around 8 different synopses, each representing an idea for a series. From them, I picked the Gold Ring as my starting series. In general, my synopses are very distinct in their content, but they have similar lines. My goal is to establish my style as my trademark. I want people to see a PageFlip product, and know what to expect.

    One of the initial steps that I had to do was to find the artists for this project. I was able to find a self-publishing company of a huge giant in Japan. They have the contacts of the artists, the editors, and so on. When it came to artist selection, we were lucky that the recommended international Manga artist, Akira Himekawa, have agreed to work on the project after looking into the synopsis and concepts of Gold Ring.

  7. What are the steps of creating a volume within the series?
  8. The first step is to decide on a brief storyline. Then once that is decided, slowly I expand in the story line and start to develop the characters and give them personalities. Once this is done, the Manga artists team would draw the actual characters based on reading my characters’ description, this is a fun ride because it is the start of the project’s manifestation.

    My part then, is to expand the story line further into a narrative form so the artists can build the storyboard accordingly. I have to say that the artists’ team played an instrumental role in the success of Gold Ring. The novel is a graphic novel, so the illustration is an important part of it. They know how to hold unto someone’s interest. There was a lot of collaboration and discussions, in which, they contributed greatly to the structuring and ordering of the book’s events.

  9. Are there any visual values you try to implant in the series?
  10. I definitely want to set a good example with Gold Ring. One of the essential values I focused on was the hijab. This was specifically through Aisha, Sultan’s mother. She is a very loving mother and she is understanding. I wanted to show a very positive motherly role. It was important for me that Aisha would appear with hijab most of the time, and without it sometimes when she is at home. Everything has its time and its place. I want to show that there is a human side of our culture.

  11. Tell us about the Sheikh Zayed book award that you won for year 2010 under the category of children literature.
  12. It is a very significant award. It is not restricted to any region or nationality as long as the work is submitted in Arabic.

    The award is highly respectful and credible, because they have high standards and criteria, and they have the authority to withhold an award in a given category if none of the applicants met their criteria.

    The award was the greatest form of acknowledgment. With all the financial expenses and work I have invested into this project, the award was a like a pat on the back and saying you did a good job.

    Also the amount of the prize award is significant and unheard of; this is a clear indication of how the government is trying to support the industry in the right way.

  13. How did you spend the financial prize award?
  14. People’s reaction to the first volume was very positive. To summarize the reaction I got from most people, it was: “I love the book. When is the next one.” So before the award, I decided I will go ahead with the second volume, regardless of the fact that the sales of the first volume did not yet compensate for the investments made, I thought I will try to manage the financial part along the way. I started negotiating with the same company again and worked on the content of the second volume. Then reached the point in which I had to agree on the contract value of the second volume. I read the cost, the number was scary, I looked at the balance in my bank account, and it was even scarier! I literally had no way of even paying the first payment. I decided to put my trust in God and just go ahead. I got cold feet later because I had no idea how am I going to pay it, but then I thought to my self I will forget about it for now and it will get sorted hopefully. Four days later, I got the call from the award committee. “Qais Sedki? This is … from Sheik Zayed book award”. I tried to prepare myself for either a “hard luck” or “you won”. So the person goes and and says: “I wanted to be the first to congratulate you…” I do not even know what did he say after that, I started crying like a baby, it was a very emotional moment. And the prize money was a perfect match for the production cost for the second volume of Gold Ring. So yes, thanks God for everything.

    Stay tuned for more on Qais in Part 2 in July..

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