QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I was raised in Liverpool, England, a few years too late to catch The Beatles play live, although I did party at The Cavern Club in my wild youth. I immigrated to the US over twenty years ago and became a US citizen. North Carolina is my adopted home. I’ve lived in the east, middle and now the west of the state and enjoyed it all.
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? Ever since I remember I’ve wanted to write. But raising a family and working always came first. About five years ago, my obligations freed up sufficiently, and I began in earnest to learn how to write fiction.
What is the last book you read? I read about one book each week. I just finished Baby Jane by M.A. Demers.
Which writers inspire you? My favorite books are in Frank Herbert’s Dune series—I love the way he builds imaginary worlds that make perfect sense. Also, Michael Crichton—Andromeda Strain is a speculative fiction classic and Jurassic park is a fine book although most folk associate the name with the movie. When I was younger, I read the epic fantasies: Tolkein’s Lord of The Rings, Asimov’s Foundation, and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast. I don’t have the attention span to tackle them any more, but their characters and themes have stayed with me.
Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Allah’s Revenge”? I’m a Pantser. That is, I don’t sketch out a plot. My stories all come from an event. One night I wrote three thousand words about a nameless assassin who releases a deadly gas on a London tube train. The novel grew from there. By the way, I’m not suggesting that seat-of-the-pants is the best way to write. It can be miserable. It involves lots of rewriting and hours of mental gymnastics while I try to extricate my hero/heroine from whatever hole I’ve written them into, during which time, I gather a fair amount of bumps and bruises from wandering into hard objects and attempting to walk through doors without opening them first.
Can you tell us something about the story? A young, devout Muslim, Dawud, develops a technology that is capable of solving the energy crisis by turning garbage into gasoline. But after he fulfils the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, he becomes convinced that Allah has spoken directly to him. Made vulnerable by the power of his religious epiphany, Dawud is manipulated into perverting his technology into a weapon. The story follows an English detective, Quinn, who is first responder when the weapon is released on the London tube train, as he attempts to stop the terrorists.
Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Anyone who enjoys a fast-paced thriller with some intricate twists and turns: Crichton, Dan Brown, and Clive Cussler fans will enjoy the work, I think.
Are you working on a new book at the moment? I have a completed novel—Maya–currently being read by few trusted beta-readers. I contract with a freelance editor, and he has the manuscript right now. In about six weeks, I’ll gather all the input and do a major rewrite, which will take most of the fall. If all goes well, Maya should be released spring 2013. I’m also halfway through my third novel—Love Potion.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? I’ve gained tremendous benefit from joining and participating in online critique groups. I was a member of “Critters” for two years. Because they focus narrowly on science fiction, I left and joined Scribophile, and haven’t looked back. There’s no better way to hone your craft than having others make direct comments.
Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I think they’re all good to have. Of course, I haven’t received a one-star review yet, so maybe I’ll change my mind after I’ve been hit by a “flame”. I know on the critique groups, some comments are more useful than others, but I’ve never received a critique that I didn’t learn something from. I think the same can be said of reviews.
If you review other indie writers’ books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I recently started reading and reviewing for “Books and Pals”, an online review site that specializes in indie authors. I’m finding that I’m a bit of a Grinch with my reviews—you have to earn those stars. But I think it’s important to tell it like I see it. After all, it’s only one person’s viewpoint.
Allah’s Revenge is available in paperback, and for e-readers. It costs less than a cup of coffee.