About The Title

Titles are interesting. Sometimes an author knows the title before she starts writing. That's how it was with HOT WATER, my sexy "smart woman's romance," as my agent calls it. HOT WATER had the perfect double meaning for the story of woman breaking society's rules to live out a fantasy - at a natural hot springs spa, no less, and I was sure no publisher would change the title.

But my "Egypt" novel is far more complex and layered. Mainstream, perhaps literary, it evolved through several versions and titles. For a time I thought "Egypt" should be in the title, but nothing I came up with felt right. Then the characters came to the rescue. The night Caroline and Hassan meet, they stop on a bridge looking out at the Nile. She asks if sometime he will take her sailing on a felucca.* He looks troubled and answers, "Mumkin bokra fil mish mish." He doesn't have the English to explain, and the next day Caroline cyphers the phrase out with her maid, Tatta.

Mumkin bokra fil mish mish is often heard in Egypt, a kind of joke, actually. In English it translates literally as, "It's possible, tomorrow in the time of apricots." Figuratively, however, it means the opposite.

Egyptians almost always aim to please. Whatever you need, the answer is, "Aywa, kolo mumkin." Yes, all is possible. But it's also hard to get things done in Egypt. Anything official needs the required bureaucratic paperwork, stamps upon stamps, and, of course the proper bakshish, money. The season for apricots in Egypt is miniscule, a week or two and it's over. So if you need to get something done and someone says, "Mumkin bokra fil mish mish," it isn't likely to happen. It's like "When pigs fly" or "hell freezes over," or "Don't hold your breath." Try it sometime with an Egyptian. You'll get a laugh, I guarantee.

I love the title. It has a kind of mystery and expectation. The writing seemed to flow easier once I found IN THE TIME OF APRICOTS.

* A wide-hulled boat designed in the time of the pharaohs (see the Photos section).