Archive for the ‘novel’ Tag

Interview with Angela Guidolin   1 comment

Today’s interview is with Angela Guidolin. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 

a-gFirst of all,  thank you Lela for having me, I’m honoured.

After graduating in Business Economics in 1995 in Venice, Italy, I went to London, UK, to polish my English.

That was a magical time in my life. London was a fantastic cultural melting pot. The three months I had planned to stay stretched to eight years, during which I got married and worked in different jobs.

Craving sun, warmth and sea, we left London and headed to the South of France, but wound up in the North. We ran our coffee shop and although tough (we used to work 70 hours a week), life was sweet, especially after the birth of our daughter.

A few years later we moved to Italy to live near my family for our daughter’s sake. There I worked in my parents’ business (ice cream!), assisting my father in Sales and Marketing. For a while, I held also the position of Quality Assurance Director. I was good at my job, but emotionally and spiritually it wasn’t for me.

Eventually my muscle problems, that had started in 1998 and not yet healed, worsened so much that I could work only for half a day. After many tests and visits, I was diagnosed with acute stress and bacteria pain and no remedy was offered to me.

I left the company five years ago and since then we’ve been living on the beautiful English Riviera in the South East of England, UK, where I’ve been getting into shape, taking care of my family and writing.

 

That sounds lovely. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

 

Nebula Rift Vol. 02 No. 05 by [L. Prentice, Joshua, J. Lucas, Andrew, Harris, Philip, Guidolin, Angela, Sheldon, Clay]I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer, the idea was implanted in me!

It was the year 2000, and for the past two years I’d been struggling to keep my job in a travel agency because of the crippling pain in the upper part of my body, especially in my wrists.

One day I passed by my favourite bookshop in London, Watkins, and on their shop window there was the ad of a tarot reader. I went in and booked a reading.

During this reading, the tarot reader told me, “You’ll write a book in the next couple of years, but you have to study and prepare yourself for it.” No, I’m not making it up.

Although I had no idea of what I would write about, I heeded her words and, 14 years and a few relocations later, I published a novelette titled Homecoming in the SF magazine Nebula Rift. It took me longer than two years, but I got there at the end.

 

 

Tell us about your writing process.

I’m a plotter and a discoverer. When I have an idea I let it grow until I feel it’s ready to be dissected and caged in a plot. I can spend a few weeks tweaking it before I’m confident enough to start writing the first chapter. And when I’m happy and let my guard down, my characters hijack the story and force me to change the plot.

 

Plotting is a way to put my mind at ease, to pretend I’m in control. The same thing happens in my life. So much so that I’ve stopped making plans a long time ago. I mean, I have goals and plans which I modify along the way.

 

Once I finish a chapter, I edit it on my laptop, then I print it, edit it again and send a digital copy to my first readers. As soon as the story is finished, I print it out, check it all again and send it to an editor.

 

 

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

 Science fiction. It seems I can’t write in any other genre. My new book, Across Spacetime is based on how I met my husband. The idea was to write a romance, but it soon morphed into a SF romance story.

To use Ray Bradbury’s words:

“Science Fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself.  … Science Fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about. “

 

I totally agree. Of course, it’s Bradbury. We can’t not agree with the don of our genre. What are you passionate about?

Our civil liberties, like free speech. They’ve never been so much under threat. Governments are taking them away from us “to keep us safe”. Well, politicians lied to us in so many occasions (the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were never found, for example), that more and more citizens distrust them. Censorship in any form is the only way for them to stay in power.

If you read 1984, Brave New World and The Hunger Games, you see that what’s in these books is not science fiction anymore. For the most part it has been implemented and I don’t like it. I want my daughter to grow in a free, abundant and caring society.

 

You and I are of similar mindsets on that subject and for similar reasons. What is something you cannot live without?

Meditation, writing, and my daughter’s love.

 

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

My life and science news, although the core idea for Homecoming was given to me at a workshop I attended in London a few years before.

 

What sort of research do you do for your stories?

For the scientific part, in Homecoming I studied how the Sun works and how auroras form. For Across Spacetime, I researched theories on the multiverse, Mars, the Saturnian system and especially the moon Titan within it.

For the spiritual, esoteric part, I’ve been researching and practising it for the past 30 years so I don’t do much ad hoc research.

 

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

A reader told me that my style reminds him of Vonda McIntyre, whose works I haven’t had the pleasure to read yet. I would say it’s essential, without long descriptions of characters and places.

I create an atmosphere and let the reader fill in the details, so make the story his or her own.

 

Do you have a special place where you write?

In the sitting room, facing a window which overlooks a beautiful garden.

 

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

First person singular. I feel it’s a more direct way to involve the reader in the story and keep he or she wondering how the story will unfold.

For example, in Across Spacetime there are two main characters, Samir and Beatrice, each one telling the story from their point of view.

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

 

I meditate for 3 or 4 hours a day, then go for a walk to ground myself and remember all the things I’m grateful for. In the evening I use the knitting needles and wool I’ve brought with me and make jumpers for my daughter’s toys-I’m not that good at making jumpers for humans, yet.

After a walk to admire the midnight sun, I snuggle up in bed with SF books like Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson and yours, Lela. They’ve been in my wish list for a while.

And whenever inspiration strikes, I write on a notepad. Better let my laptop have a rest too!

 

Talk about your books individually.

Homecoming is a short story about an immortal being, Shr who lives on the Sun. As part of her training to advance her career chances, she incarnates on Earth for a few lifetimes and this experience changes her in ways she could never have imagined. Her forced homecoming has a deep impact on the Sunnians, the inhabitants of the Sun, because her actions have shed a light on their political system.

 

You can download Homecoming for free when you subscribe to my mailing list, the Seekers’ Starguide .

 

Across Spacetime is my brand new SF romance novella, which will start pre-sale on 3 February 2017 and will be released on 31 March 2017.

 

It’s the story of two time travelers from the future, Samir and Beatrice, who meet in London in 1995. They fall in love despite a very wide cultural gap and must decide whether to stay in the past, where they feel free to be together but where they don’t belong, or go back to the future and face the prejudice of their society.

Pre-sale starts on 3 February and sale on 31 March. For details please check my website .

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

My stories have always a message because I want to contribute, in my small way, to create a happier society.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I’d like them to feel empowered. Everyone matters.

 

Where do readers find you and your books?

You can connect with me on:

 

US Amazon is:http://amzn.to/1X9ZPAh

 

UK Amazon is: http://amzn.to/1WKsDic

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelaguidolinauthor

 

Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/guidolin_angela or http://bit.ly/1NkwEse

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-guidolin-6832057 or http://bit.ly/1rw9EMZ

 

Goodread https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15287679.Angela_Guidolin

 

My website:  http://www.angelaguidolinauthor.co.uk/

Let’s Get Visual   Leave a comment

We authors in the 21st century write in a time when readers, trained by movies and television, expect a visual experience from our books. Of course, all the gurus say “show, don’t tell.” That sounds simple … just make the characters do something that readers can visualize … but we authors know it’s really not as simple as it sounds. There are a myriad of choices we must make to “show” rather than “tell” a scene. How do we creat a visual scene that our readers can “watch” as they read? If you’re like me, “show” is just too vague of an instruction. There must be some ways to transfer the clearly enacted scene in my mind to the page in a way that will come across with the emotional impact I intend.

It would be so much easier if we could just say “the character is feeling this”, but that’s telling not showing, so we go through these scene construction contortions designed to show our character in action, reacting to the environmental stimuli that make them feel, hoping that our readers will clue into what the character is feeling. I’ve read a lot of books that missed this mark. Why?

I think it has something to do with focusing too much on the overall plot and not enough on the plot in each scene. Think about a movie. A director creates a scene through a compilationg of segments or pieces. A collection of camera shots are subsequently edited and pieced together to create a seamless “moment in time.”

My son and I were watching “High Noon” a while ago and it got me to thinking about this concept and how novel writers could learn from screen writers and directors. That’s a movie that plays with time in an extremely successful way. I recommend you watch it sometime. Yes, it was made in the 1950s, but no, it’s not just some old relic that we can leave in a vault. The techniques used in it to speed time u and slow it down can translate into our writing and make it more visual and therefore, more readable to a modern audience.

Our stories are told over periods of time. I’ve read novels that encompassed a couple of hours and others that covered decades. Pacing so as to create a smooth passage of time is essential for the reader to follow the story, but I’m suggesting you can manipulate time to evoke an emotional response.

Often during crisis, time feels muddled and hazy. If you’ve ever witnessed an accident … say, a car crash … you may remember that time seemed to stop until you could catch up to it. It doesn’t just slow down. It acquires this bright, highly detailed feeling. And generally, that is how you remember it.

For example, when I was in high school, I saw a little kid hit by a car. I remember that I saw the kid break away from his dad out of the corner of my eye just as a truck came into view. The kid ended up under the truck. The dad grabbed the kid, the driver expressed horror and offered a ride to the hospital and they took off. I remembered to breathe as my heart pounded in terror for the little kid.

Okay, you pretty much know the details and I made it clear that I was terrified. I could have done so much better.

I could have slowed things down, described the child as I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I could have described the truck as it came into view and the face of the driver as he realized there was no way to stop in time. I could describe the screech of the brakes as he tried. This gives the scene so much more power than a simple retelling of the facts.

In my latest work-in-progress, What If … Wasn’t, my character is processing old and painful memories. These are not just fleeting thoughts in his mind. They are all encompassing experiences that he feels in the present as well as in the past. I could say something like “Peter sat there thinking about that night on the bay for at least 20 minutes” but that doesn’t really pull the reader into the scene. Instead, I try to make the reader feel the passage of time by focusing on details you wouldn’t ordinarily pay attention to. By having my character notice something seemingly insignificant, I try to show that his inner awareness is shifting. By noticing things around him, details that are small and easily missed, which nobody else would pay attention to, I very deliberately shift the quality of time.

When we look back on the reel of our lives, there are moments that seem marvelously alive while others seem insulated and unresponsive to the world around us. There are no set rules for how to accomplish this as writers. By having your characters slow down and notice the small things, thus slowing down time, you can explore how she feels in that moment and provide a visual element to your writing that draw your readers into your character’s experience.

 

 

 

 

Posted November 9, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in writing wednesday

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Do You Feel Me?   1 comment

Infusing sensory details into writing – how do you do it or do you do it? Does it just flow as you write or is it part of the rewrite process, a deliberate choice? Does too much sensory detail in writing bother you or do you wish there was more in today’s writing?

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Image result for image of sensory inputWe live in an era of visual entertainment, so that consumers expect a cinematic experience in their novels. Don’t believe me? Read the Hunger Games trilogy. The movies correlate really well to the novels because the books were written so that readers can “watch” the novel unfold as if seeing it on a movie screen.

How do writers achieve that sort of visual power in their novels?

In my research, I found some good articles on cinematic technique, but I figure Kelli Williams will cover that so much better than I can.

Some authors seem to deliberately avoid includes senses other that sight in their writing and others include it in a very heavy-handed way. I am in favor of including sensory details in writing. It makes for a much better book regardless of the genre. There’s a reason why David McCollough is such a popular historical writer and it’s because he uses novel techniques to bring the reader into the scene he’s teaching us about. Think of how a Ken Burns film makes us all want to learn history.

Ideally sensory detail flows as I write. If I feel like I was there when I wrote it, the readers are likely to feel like they are there when they read it. That isn’t always possible. Sometimes I get so caught up in one layer of the narrative that I come back on rewrite and realize that I forgot all about the sensory detail. And that’s fine, because I can add it. That’s one of the purposes of rewrite.

Image result for image of sensory deprivationI am a visually oriented person, so I have no problem describing what readers ought to be seeing. While writing Mirklin Wood, I came to a realization that I needed to strengthen my sensory detail in the other senses. Tamys has been partially blinded and I needed to bring the reader into his experience. What can he see? What does he hear? My own sense of smell is not that keen, so this was an area where I really had to put some thought and ask my family “If you were in this situation, what would you smell?” I’d smell nature in general. Brad would smell dirt and green growing things. In my interviews with them, I realized how much the sense of smell triggers memory, which ended up playing a key role in Tamys’ experiences in the book. Tamys is not completely blind, so color became really important. He can’t make out details, but he can see broad-stroke images . I had to decide if he would see those colors as drab and grayed or vibrant to the point of violence.

I spent a lot of time sitting in my yard and the woods with my eyes closed. Sound is a powerful sense, but it’s one we often ignore. We all remember the affect of movie scores because they elicit strong emotions that can make viewers cry or laugh or feel rage on the character’s behalf. Novelists don’t have the ability to use music in our writing, but there are a lot of ways to include sound to bring the reader in contact with the scene.

Ordinary sounds infuse a sense of place into a story. In a medieval banqueting hall, you’d hear the clank of metal silverware and the whisper of a hundred voices. Think about the screech of tires as a car races away from the scene of a crime or the drip of a faucet in a quiet night.

I don’t rely hugely on metaphor in my writing. It’s just not how I think, so while I appreciate writers who do it well, it’s not usually a goal for me. The color blue, for example, is just a color I like. It rarely means anything. Although the color of eyes in the Daermad Cycle does mean something, for the most part, don’t look for metaphor in my writing. Instead, I want readers to feel as if they are standing in the scene with the characters. I strive for realism, but in a circumstance where the character’s perception has been damaged, I might play with the sensory details. Hence, Tamys smells bacon and visualizes a pig. There are appropriate times to use enhanced, expressive, distorted, even surreal visuals, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. In Objects in View, which comes out tomorrow, Shane has an experience with the woman who haunts him. It feels more than real to him because his senses are distorted by his guilt. On the other hand, in my latest work-in-progress, a character temporarily loses contact with sensory details because of an overwhelming memory.

Then there’s a lot to be said for letting the reader see, hear and feel the ordinary details of a character’s life. Just putting a sentence in the middle of a paragraph can insert the reader into the scene. We all know the sound of gravel crunching underfoot, the smell of daisies in bloom, or the feel of snowflakes landing on our cheeks. I don’t want my readers to experience my books as a form of sensory deprivation. I want them to experience what the character experiences. Sometimes it only takes a short sentence here or there to set that scene and it pays big dividends.

Although I think I use sensory detail well as I write, I have taught myself to look for it on rewrite. I try to ask the questions that satisfy the senses. What does the character see? What does he hear? What does she smell? Feel? Taste? I try to ask myself that question in every scene, but I also try to maintain a light hand. Covering all five is probably overkill most of the time, but I try to expand away from just sight into the senses we often ignore.

Posted October 3, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Interview with Michael McCormick   Leave a comment

Michael McCormick

This is an Elite Book Promotions blog tour.

Today’s interview is with Michael McCormick, author of Across the Pond, a novella about the Vietnam War and its effect on one of the returning soldiers.

Tell us something about yourself, Michael. (Where are you from, what do you do for a living, significant life events and relationships, as much or as little as you want).

I grew up in Ohio, USA, and just after graduation from high school I found my self engaged in brutal house-to-house, door-to-door, combat in Hue, South Vietnam. The carnage went on for 13 months. Upon my return to the United States, I was awarded the Silver Star medal and the Purple Heart.

This is your first published book. Had you written before? If so, what was it and why?

No, this novella is my first work. I have since written some poetry and a few short stories.

That is how the writer bug starts! This interview is a little different because normally I’m interviewing fiction novelists who are, like myself, writing from research and imagination, but in your case, you’re drawing from personal experience. I’m not ignorant on the subject. I grew up in the Vietnam Era, a cousin died there, and my brother came back to a hate-the-troops rally in the airport. Tell us a little bit about Across the Pond.

Michael McCormick Across the PondMy novella is about a young American man who fights for his country during the war in Vietnam, only to be rejected and ridiculed when he comes home. In the foreword for the book, Ron Kovic wrote, “This little book grips the reader from the very beginning and does not let go. It is written with the violence and fury of Leon Uris’s Battle Cry, and the tenderness and compassion of a simple poet.”

Do you think, as a clinical psychologist, there was something different in the Vietnam War (and subsequent conflicts) compared to World War 2 and Korean? (It seems that the earlier veterans did not experience as much PTSD or it did not last as long as soldiers from later eras. Were those conficts somehow different, was it the difference in how they were treated when they came home, or was there something else involved. Or are we just seeing the apparent differences incorrectly through the lens of history.

I think all war is hell. The difference was in how the Vietnam veterans were treated when they came home. It was disgraceful the way the government and American people treated the returning veterans.

This book is coming out decades following the events, but I see parallels between then and now. The TSA prevents the hate-the-troops rallies in airports these days, but do you think there is a growing antipathy toward the returning troops from the Middle East these days?

I think there are some parallels, such as the treatment at the VA, but overall I think they are well treated and respected, unlike what happened to the returning Vietnam veteran.

How did the foreward by Ron Kovic come about? And for the benefit of readers, please explain who Ron Kovic is?

I ran into Ron one day in San Francisco and we agreed to meet for lunch in Marin. He read my manuscript, liked it and agreed to write the foreword. He then proceeded to write the foreword on the lunch napkins. Ron Kovic is the author of Born On The Fourth of July, the basis for the Oliver Stone movie of the same name.
How do you answer people who say United States troops shouldn’t have been in Vietnam in the first place?

 

I agree. If Jack Kennedy had lived, I think we would not have gone in. Lyndon Johnson was the person who lied to the people and sent large numbers of our soldiers to Vietnam.

Do you think, given your background and current profession, that the United States should be in the conflicts where we are now?

No I don’t, and I said that in the beginning. I don’t think we have a compelling national interest in that region. Some of our leaders disagree, but this president seems to agree.

What is a takeaway you would like readers to get from Across the Pond?

When we send our young people off to war, we damn sure ought to take care of them and respect them when they come home.

How was the cover for the book developed?

I shopped around on the Internet for this cover and then I bought it.

Michael McCormick is the author of Across The Pond. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps just out of high school at the age of 17. Soon after, he found himself in battle in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. He was nearly killed on several occasions, but managed to survive and return home at age 19. After the war, Michael earned his B.A. in psychology and his M.A. in clinical psychology. He lives in Oakland, California with his wife Gina. You can contact him at: mikemccormick49@ymail.com.

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Interview with Khalid Muhammad   1 comment

Today’s interview is with Khalid Muhammad, author of Agency Rules: Never An Easy Day at the Office, a political thriller set in Pakistan.

 

Khalid MohammedTell us something about yourself, Khalid. 

Sure, Lela. First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me about my writing and my debut military/espionage thriller, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office.

In terms of my background, I was born in Pakistan, raised and educated in the United States and returned to Pakistan in 1997 to pursue emerging business opportunities. I’ve spent my time in the country comparing the on-ground Pakistan with everything that I heard in the media. What a difference! There are times when I think they make up the stories that are written about my country.

 

 

I suspect they do, Khalid, for American political reasons.

As an entrepreneur, I have been able to build a successful marketing and brand management company in Karachi that services both domestic and international clients, which has helped with supporting my family while I build my writing career.  Since publishing Agency Rules in January 2014, I have written for a number of domestic publications and a few international ones, while I work on the next two books of the Agency Rules series.

Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office is my debut novel – the first in a series of 4 – 5. I chose to put focus on the story of my home country, Pakistan, because it is the most discussed country in the world because of our terrorism problem. Interestingly, while it is the most discussed, it’s also the least understood because the media doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s what I like to call “sound byte reporting”. So, I take my readers back to the 1990s, right after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and the Mujahideen had returned to Pakistan, radicalized and with no one to fight. They turned their sights on Pakistan and reforming the country through violence and intimidation. The story follows Kamal Khan, a precision sniper in the Pakistan Army and member of Pakistan’s most feared intelligence service, the ISI. Kamal is a fantastic protagonist because he is struggling with everything that he must do to accomplish his objectives. It will be hard for the reader to not identify with him or experience the world he is living in.

 

I’m reading the book now and finding the character of Kamal compelling and the Pakistan you describe to be quite different from the one I hear about in the news. You live in Pakistan. I could do an interview just on that — forget about the book. And we might actually do that separate from the interview. Talk about living in Pakistan.

Pakistan is a fantastic country, but no different than any other. We have gotten a bad knock in the War on Terror, even though we are a frontline state in the war, but the country is so diverse and amazing that when people visit from abroad, they are shocked that it is so different than what they have been told in the print and electronic media.

The nation has had a very difficult and interesting road since 1947, when the country came into existence. We have long struggled with the “extremism” elements both in political parties and fringe religious groups, but the Afghan War, or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1970s, really brought it all out in the open. Prior to that, Pakistan was a progressive, liberal country. Shocking, I know!

 

What little I know of your history it isn’t shocking to me, but how did things deteriorate to where they are now?

What happened in 1977, and for many years after, was the rise of General Zia-ul-Haq, a ruthless, highly fundamentalist dictator that ruled throughout the Afghan war. General Zia took it upon himself to align with the ultra-conservative elements in Pakistan to create, what we call, the “Islamic” laws. These laws included the Hudood Ordinance, which virtually stripped women of all their rights in terms of criminal prosecution of rape and adultery, and the blasphemy law, which is well known to everyone around the world. Zia’s government was probably the darkest time in Pakistan’s history because of the way he ruled the country. Let me give you some examples.

There were public beatings in stadiums of those who had violated his Islamic laws, which I should point out had nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with his brand of morality. The media was silenced. There were literally newspapers published with big black rectangles covering stories that the government didn’t want the public to see. They actually monitored every newspaper in the country, which at the time wasn’t difficult because there were about 4 newspapers.

It was during his rule that two things happened that impact Pakistan to this day. First, Zia selected political nobodies and turned them into household names. Those people are still in politics in Pakistan, including current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. These people promised to carry forward Zia’s mission for Pakistan after he died in a fiery helicopter crash with the then US ambassador to Pakistan, Arnold Raphel.

The second thing that he did that continues to eat Pakistan alive is the massive growth of jihadi and extremist madrassahs. During the Afghan war, these madrassahs were setup to funnel motivated fighters to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Mujahideen against the Soviets, but when the war was over, they didn’t have an enemy – so they turned their sights on Pakistan. These madrassahs have created and supported most of the terrorist elements in the country until today. This was also when the financial links between Saudi Arabia and these madrassahs were created.

During the Afghan war, for every dollar that the CIA pumped into Pakistan to support the Mujahideen, the Saudis pumped in $100. These funds were, and are, funneled straight to the radical elements in Pakistan to teach them the Wahabi form of Islam. Wahabism is an extremely fundamentalist form of Islam that believes that the religion cannot progress and that the most extreme form of Sharia law is the only acceptable law for a Muslim country. This is the law that is followed in Saudi Arabia, where no woman can drive, leave the house without her husband or father and has no rights under the state. This is what they wanted for Pakistan as well. I should say still want for Pakistan.

Today, and for the past 12 years, our military has been fighting against these radicals. Our fight has cost us close to 70,000 innocent lives in terrorist attacks and military operations. We are finally making headway but the current government could pull the plug anytime they want – but we can get into that if you want to talk more about Pakistan.

 

When did you first start writing and what was the story?

I first started my writing when I was in the 7th grade. I had a fantastic English teacher that encouraged us to write from our imaginations. I can’t remember the first story that I wrote, but I know it was crime related. At that point in time, I was living a very troubled home life and all I was reading was true crime novels that I would get from the local library.

There was a great deal of frustration and anger in my writing at that age, which has matured now into a much cleaner, sadistic writing style.

I stopped writing when I was in university because life got me busy and didn’t really touch it outside of professional papers during my career. It was after the War on Terror started and I was reading/watching what was being said about Pakistan that I started thinking about starting again.

 

I think most writers write to get something out of ourselves that perhaps lives more safely in a fictional environment. My neighbors would not like it if I ran around the neighborhood with a big sword smiting people. Alaskans are fine with everybody being armed, but they don’t much like gunfire outside of the gun range. I write so my psyche can do things that aren’t exactly socially acceptable. Can you relate to that idea?

Completely! I have an extremely sadistic side to my personality when it comes to injustice. My writing has given me an outlet to express my feelings, ideas and sometimes hatred without the repercussions of criminal cases. I come from a violent childhood that has done a good deal of damage to my internal structure and belief system. I think my writing lets me express that. My wife likes to say that my writing is a catharsis because many of the things I would like to do to people (and probably would since Pakistan is a lawless country) come out in my writing.

 

Agency Rules Never EasyWhere did you get the idea for Agency Rules?

Agency Rules is a journey for me and Pakistan. Too many people only know what they see in the media about Pakistan and that is so slanted that I don’t even recognize my country when I read the foreign press. I wanted to tell the story that people don’t know, what we have struggled with for years, the battles that we have fought ideologically, religiously and sometimes physically over the past 30 years. The Pakistan that you see in the media is not Pakistan. Agency Rules is my way of setting the record straight by introducing you to the political and military gamesmanship, the corrupt and uneducated imams and the people who are struggling under the weight of all of it just to survive.

 

Tell us about the story.

The story is centered around the years immediately after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the impact on Pakistan. The reader gets the story from the point of view of Kamal Khan, a highly decorated sniper in the Pakistan Army who gets recruited into the elite Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Kamal takes you behind enemy lines into a terrorist camp to show the reader how people are indoctrinated, seduced and recruited into that life. There are many facets to the story that I can’t talk about because it would give too much away, but suffice it to say, the reader gets a clear picture of everything that goes on in Pakistan and why the country has so many problems decades later.

What’s interesting about the story is that it is roughly 6 years in the making. I have read de-classified documents from US and Pakistani intelligence, dossiers on terrorists, books, watched movies and documentaries to get all my research on target with the whole series. I like to tell my readers that everything that you read in the pages of Agency Rules novels has actually happened or is happening in Pakistan. There is a level of realism to the story that I couldn’t have gotten without the sheer amount of research that I did before I started planning and writing.

Never an Easy Day at the Office is the first book of the series and the foundation of the whole story.

 

What are your future literary plans? Will there be a sequel or other books to follow? If so, what and when?

Like I said, this is the first book in the series. I envisioned this as a 4 or 5 book series when I first planned it out, but the response and demand for the book has been so great that I might continue it beyond 5 books.

The sequel to Never an Easy Day at the Office is due out in early January 2015. I will be publishing two books within weeks of each other to bring the story to modern day Pakistan. I’ve finished (I hope) writing the next book of the series and we will start marketing it towards the end of the month, probably after Christmas.

I do plan on writing a crime thriller novel at some point because that genre has always been of interest to me. But it all depends on when I get some time away from Agency Rules to work on it.

 

Book Pages:

 

Amazon:             http://www.amazon.com/Khalid-Muhammad/e/B00HVE71KU/

Goodreads:        https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7243288.Khalid_Muhammad

 

Agency Rules on the Web:

 

Website:              http://www.agencyrules.com

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/AgencyRulesPK

Facebook:          http://facebook.com/AgencyRulesPK

 

Buy Links:

 

Amazon:                             http://smarturl.it/amazon-ar

Barnes & Noble:               http://goo.gl/lNMQo0

iTunes/iBooks:                http://goo.gl/6MK31X

Kobo:                                    http://goo.gl/mUtIS8

 

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