by Vera Ampofowah
“Keep your writing fun and experimental always,” Gotham teacher George Jreije says, to inspire up-and-coming writers. “Trying out different genres unlocks your true voice. Don’t bottle yourself up to only one category.”
However, George never thought of himself as a writer growing up. In fact, he didn’t consider becoming a writer until college. While majoring in political science, George’s epiphany came about when he realized his love for reading and imagining stories.
George says, “I was like: Why not try writing?”
The more George dove into his newfound interest in writing, the more he felt like something was missing. George says, “The aha moment came when I was reflecting on the fact that, hey, there's really little Arab representation, and I am Arab-American.”
George incorporates aspects of growing up as a Lebanese-American into his characters. He tries to focus on his own experiences and lets that inform his writing, making it more natural and authentic.
He has recently published two books in a middle-grade fantasy series: Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria and Shad Hadid and the Forbidden Alchemies. The series explores the adventures of a young boy’s journey into alchemy against necromancers seeking control. And the hero of the series is a Lebanese-American boy, like George.
George is following these books with a middle-grade graphic novel, Tarik’s Bazaar Adventure, about a boy who has alopecia, like George, and his self-love journey.
And George is also working on another middle-grade series about an Arab-American boy who finds a jinn (genie) at the bottom of the ocean and has to fend off monsters preying on his new powers.
When George isn't working on his novels, he frequents schools and organizations on a mission to inspire young children to write. Some of these trips include writing short stories for young Arab children as part of UNICEF. George’s love of inspiring writers continues at Gotham. As George puts it: “I was looking for an opportunity to inspire writers as well as elevate the status of Gotham itself.”
Outside of writing, George enjoys traveling all around the world and trying out different foods. He spends some of his free time with his wife experimenting with dishes while staying true to his Lebanese roots. George also loves doing yoga, especially the “spiritual and physical parts of its philosophy.”