Welcome to Forbidden’s book launch celebration
Better Wear Your Flak Jacket
FORBIDDEN eBOOK IS FREE
Consequences of Writing a Novel About Islam
When the impulse to write Forbidden began, I resisted. Bartholomew’s (my muse) urging to write the thriller continued with greater intensity. I knew so little about the religion and the culture.
“So what,” he croaked. “You got a brain. Learn. Study.” My muse thumped his froggy flippers.
I shivered at the thought of intense research required, searching for contacts and support. “It’ll take years,” I moaned.
“Ya, so what!” Bart jumped onto my shoulder. “No one can tell this story like you. You’re without bias, a clean slate, a virgin, a – .”
“Now just a minute, Croak.” I call him Croak when he’s gone too far. “What the hell do you mean by virgin?”
Bartholomew blushes as much as a green frog can – kind of an ugly puse. “Don’t get all twisted, sister. You’re unbroken, untainted by hate and fear. Not card carrying religious zealot, or have need for ancient dogma. Your vision is deeper. Unspoiled. Pure.”
Now I’m blushing. “I’m not that pure, Bart. I’ve done things, you know.”
It took Bart almost a year to convince me I had been selected to tell Forbidden’s story. And so the research began. My first task was to approach our local Muslim community. Imam Mustafa Khattab met me at his mosque. I could see he had serious doubts about my ability to tell any story about Islam. He was not alone on that count. However, he handed me an armful of books and videos, advised me to have a Muslim read / edit my work, and gave one final piece of advice – take the middle road.
Over the next many months I studied, including reading the Koran. Gradually, a fascinating world began to take shape. History, music, academics, geography, and weather, social and religious practices, faith in God / Allah, allegiances and warfare, shifting borders and tribal lands, customs and culture merged into a dynamic and complex segment we know as the Middle East. What I learned is that unless you are born in that region, most of us cannot fully understand the depth of devotion, nor the passion for the lands once tread by Mohammad, the prophet.
To ensure Forbidden was an unbiased and ‘middle of the road’ reflection of Islam, I needed support. It’s amazing how when you put out the intention to the universe, things happen. Lots of things. I am now so blessed with several amazing friends who are Muslim. The are from Canada, United States, and the Middle East. In particular, Dr. Albakkal read each chapter of Forbidden and provided feedback and information. Although I did pay her for this service, she in turn forwarded those funds to charity. She continues to volunteer her time with medical support to the Canadian Syrian refugee children.
In the beginning, I feared a back lash from the Muslim communities. After all, why should a non-Muslim person be writing a novel about Islam? Absolutely, a valid concern. No doubt, Forbidden’s account of the thoughts and behaviors of a Muslim cop in the Middle East may have missed the mark. The local expressions, the body language, etc. – I would loved to have been able to paint a far more true to form image. My most fervent hope, however, has been to not insult or misinterpret the basics of Islam and the Koran.
What I didn’t expect when I started writing Forbidden was resistance, even some hostility from members within my culture. And though I had gained enough knowledge to appease their fears, they dug in their heals resisting the idea they could be wrong, misled, or misunderstood the average moderate Muslim. Pointing out that the media have focused on one small segment of militant Muslims and, thus, giving the impression Islam is a religion of hate and terrorists did nothing to persuade some of my friends and associates to reconsider their opinion. So entrenched is their fear. Fear makes us blind and impotent.
I sacrificed a lot to write Forbidden. Four years was devoted to research and writing. I threw all my energy into creating a story that cannot be compared to another novel. I gave up my love of water color painting and my social calendar was trashed. There were three complete rewrites. Just ask my editor, Leigh Carter, who had to deal with changing character personalities, shifting plots, and an ending that eluded me until the final year. I put my relationships at risk, may have lost a few friends. There may be Muslim and non-Muslim who will want to thrash me and trash my book.
But, through it all, the sleepless night of searching for that perfect word, the plot twist, infusing my passion into the characters – I regret nothing.
Giving Bartholomew a big froggy kiss 🙂
Year 2047, City of Samarra, capital of the Republic of Islamic Provinces & Territories
Fifteen American travelers have vanished. Surrendering to Mayor Aamir’s demands, Captain Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, Eliza MacKay. The devout Muslim is horrified to discover that if he exposes the cover-up, his family will suffer dire consequences.
The CIA has the lying Sharif in their cross hairs. Sharif’s only hope is to prove his country’s government is free of guilt. Secretly, he hunts forensic evidence. Cryptic messages, backstabbing informants, and corruption threaten Sharif’s resolve to see justice served. When he discovers the shocking truth, he and MacKay become the targets of a ruthless killer.
Sharif is tortured by his attraction to the impetuous Eliza MacKay. In spite of her struggle with PTSD, he’s drawn to her vivacious personality. Islam forbids the intimacy he craves. In desperation to save Eliza, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.
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Review by Lily Eva Blake
Guest Post with Pat Garcia
Review and Guest Post with Juneta Key
Featured in OPAL Magazine
Guest Post with Lily Eva Blake
Review and Showcase with Nicki Elson
Showcase with Jennifer Lane
Showcase with Nancee Cain
Interview with Tyler Wiegmann
Review and Showcase with Yolanda Renee
Showcase with Michelle Willms
Romance Under Fire
Author Feather Stone / F. Stone / Judy Weir:
On our cattle ranch, when an animal was in distress or injured, I was put in charge of nursing it back to health. Never mind that I was just a kid and hated the sight of blood, but I had to muster up the courage to apply home remedies. My survival rate was pretty good. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I would progress to nursing – humans. After one year into nurses training, I bolted. Bed pans and chronic diseases pushed me in different direction; a career of dealing with drug addicts, murder, suicide, fatalities, and biker gangs. In 1983 I graduated with honors as a paramedic and worked in the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Services.
For the next twenty years, I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. I loved it. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I gained the fodder for creating intense novels.
My first novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild, was published by Omnific Publishing in 2011. The setting is on a naval ship, under the command of a surely man who is under suspicion of treason. When a battered woman is brought to his ship for execution, he has no idea that she is about to turn his disciplined life into chaos – and that she is no ordinary woman. The Guardian’s Wildchild has a rating of 4.1 at Amazon.
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