Author Interview With Elen Ghulam of “Graffiti Hack”


Hello everyone! Today I want to welcome you all to another amazing author interview. Recently, I got the chance to talk with Elen Ghulam about her newest novel, her growth as a writer, and we got to discuss some of her favorite books too. Enjoy the interview!

graffitihack-ghulam-ebookwebSynopsis: Nelly Nasah grew up in a culture obsessed with decoration. In her native country, straight lines are anathema. Letters are hand-written into anthropomorphic shapes. Even heart monitoring machines are covered with colourful mosaics. So when Nelly arrives in Washington, D.C. she has a mission—to make the Internet beautiful. She lands a job as a graphic designer in Georgetown, and gets to work trying to inspire her colleagues—aloof boss Jack, talkative middle-aged Ashley and Don Juan-wannabe Ralf—to greater heights of embellishment with her unique brand of storytelling. Her modern fairy tales are misinterpreted by the three, with hilarious results. Despite all her efforts, Nelly’s only friend in this new country is a rickety old elevator, who communicates with her through the language of his gentle sways and flickering lights.

After a failed presentation at the office, Nelly turns to the dark world of hacking. When lavish designs begin to appear on unsuspecting high-profile websites, the Internet starts to pay attention. Nelly’s latest “hits” go viral as the multitudes read political and social messages into her digital decorations. Is Nelly headed for deep trouble?

Graffiti Hack is a wild ride into a collision of art, internet, obsession, culture, fairy tales and loneliness. Buckle up!

Book Trailer:

Q&A Time!

What do you enjoy doing most outside of reading and writing?

Writing is my main passion, but I have been bitten by the love of flamenco dancing many years ago. Feet stomping. Fingers snapping. Zesty furious rhythm. Dancing fuels my creativity in unexpected ways. You can see a video of me performing here.

   Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you write only when you feel inspired?

My professional life has drilled into me the importance of being disciplined. I am an expert at creating predictable results as per a time schedule. Once I transitioned into a writer’s life, I realized that those skills were a hindrance. It took me several years to un-discipline myself to allow a state of play. Hard work is overrated. In order for the writing to flow I need to coax it with plenty of unhurried lazy hours of leisure.

   Did you incorporate any of your experiences that you encountered in real life working as a computer programmer into Graffiti Hack?

None of the characters in my novel are based on real life people, however my life as a computer programmer meant that I was constantly the only woman is a male dominant environment. The internet was built, mostly, by white men. It is no coincidence that I wrote a story about a woman who wants to feminize the internet. All those years of fitting in must have left some suppressed desires.

   Did you ever have hit a rough patch while writing this book, where nothing in the story seemed to fit or make sense?

I feel embarrassed when I tell people that it took me seven years to write Graffiti Hack. Writing it was one long rough patch that didn’t make sense. All through it I had no idea where the story was going or what would happen next. Each chapter was a surprise. I sat down to write thinking foolishly that I will change the world with my words. If I realized how much it would change me instead, I think I would have quit writing.

   If you were to watch your favorite book (which hasn’t been turned into a real life motion picture) turn into a movie, which would you choose? Or would you rather keep it stayed as a book?

I would love to see Wes Anderson turn Forty Rules of Love into a movie. I adored Wes Anderson’s latest movie—The Grand Budapest Hotel. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. Also I loved the Elif Shafak story that combines the historical with modern everyday life. In my imagination at least, combining these two things would be the most epic movie. Ever.

   Graffiti Hack deals with relevant technology and social media issues. Coming from a computer programming background, do you think there is a solution to problems such as hacking? How can it be fixed?

NASA has been hacked. The pentagon has been hacked. Every system has a weakness that a clever person is able exploit. I am afraid there is no way fix it. Hacking is here to stay.

   Of all the characters you have created in this novel, which is your favorite and why?

All the people in my novel are hysterical, eccentric and unlikable. It is with great irony that I made the only likable character in the story an object. The main character imagines that an elevator called Elvi is communicating with her through his sways and flickering light. Elvi is the only sane presence in the novel. But even an elevator has a limit to what it can put up with.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? 

I love the novel Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. It places Opera singing in the unusual setting of the hostage taking in Lima. As the grandiose music begins to affect the hostages and their takers alike the plot takes unexpected turns. My dream is to write a novel as fantastic as Bel Canto but centering on flamenco dancing instead. I will have to come up with an unusual setting for this to allow the story to flourish. I am not sure yet. Women’s prison? …..maybe? The survivors of an airplane crash on an isolated island? … I don’t know. But the story will revolve around how dancing affects the characters and the plot in unexpected ways.

About The Author


Elen Ghulam worked as a computer programmer for 18 years. Telling stories to silicon chips proved to be easy, and so she graduated
to amusing humans. She is an Iraqi-Canadian living in Vancouver, BC. You can follow her adventures at

Facebook | Youtube | Twitter

Thank you again Elen for the wonderful interview! I encourage you all to go out and check Graffiti Hack! 😀

2 thoughts on “Author Interview With Elen Ghulam of “Graffiti Hack”

  1. Wonderful interview! I had not heard of this book before, but it sounds very unique.

    “The internet was built, mostly, by white men. It is no coincidence that I wrote a story about a woman who wants to feminize the internet.”

    Love this! She sounds like a lovely woman. Thanks for sharing!

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