What is your book about?
The Blasphemer is the story of a writer named Abraham Khan. When he releases an e-book condemning radical Islam, the consequences hit him fast and hard — an armed fanatic smashes into his home one evening, trying to kill him. He survives the harrowing attempt. Just barely. But will he survive the next one?
Maya Raines is the security operator brought in to protect Abraham. She is tough and committed. The very best at what she does. Always one step ahead of the threat.
But Abraham is no ordinary principal — he will not hide, and he will not stay silent. And as rage explodes on the streets and the nation is propelled to the brink, Maya will have to ask herself the hardest question of all: how far would you go to protect one man’s right to speak?
What inspired you to write this particular story?
Western opinions about Islam have never been more polarised. Witness the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque; the Muhammad cartoon crisis; the burning of the Koran. In each and every case, political opponents have been divided across ideological lines. Left-wingers continue to insist that Islam is a religion of peace. Right-wingers, on the other hand, argue that Islam is a religion of violence.
Both views are wrong.
The Blasphemer is my attempt to provide a fair and balanced account of what’s really shaping the Islamic world today — the conflict between progressive Muslims and fundamentalist Muslims.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?
Here’s an interesting fact: I grew up as a Christian in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country. And that’s given me a unique insight into the workings of Islam — the good, the bad and the ugly. And all this has helped me to construct and reinforce Abraham Khan’s personality and identity as a Sufi Muslim.
For the law-enforcement and military aspects of The Blasphemer, though, I needed help. So I got in touch with real-life operators — special-forces personnel who work undercover on risky assignments. That helped reinforce the authenticity of my story. Particularly in the way Maya Raines thinks, plans and fights.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me two years. The subject matter wasn’t easy to research and develop.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Your character must always want something desperately; if only a glass of water.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
The War on Terror is a two-front war. The first front is obvious: America and its allies are fighting to root out and eliminate Islamic fascists. It’s a conflict that recognises no borders. No rules. No limits. This is the front most of us are familiar with when we flick on CNN.
But the second front is less familiar and less obvious: there is a war within Islam itself. A struggle between progressives and fundamentalists. A battle royale between those who want to bring Islam into the twenty-first century and those who want to bring it back to the seventh century.
Consider this: fundamentalists have murdered more of their own fellow Muslims than they have ever done for Westerners.
So until and unless the West comes to terms with this second front, its chances of vanquishing Islamic terror will continue to be slim.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Understanding the philosophy and the mindset of close-protection operators. They are utterly unique in the way they approach risk and danger. To them, a room is never just a room – it’s made up of points of ingress, points of egress, sight lines and availability of cover.
To say that it took me a while to get to grips with the lingo and the procedures would be an understatement!
Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?
Writing The Blasphemer has given me a greater appreciation for close-protection operators and the way they put their lives on the line to protect their principals. They truly are modern-day knights; modern-day samurai.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Abraham Khan is an idealist. A man so ardently committed to his cause that he is willing to put himself, his family and, ultimately, his country in grave danger just to prove a moral point.
Maya Raines is the exact opposite. She’s a realist and has seen enough violence in her life to abhor any sort of danger. But she doesn’t allow that sentiment to conflict with her duty — she will go to extremes to protect Abraham simply because it is the right thing to do.
The interplay between the two is what propels the novel’s narrative. And it’s safe to say neither would exist without the other. So, not surprisingly, they are my favourite characters. Their positions are reflective of my own personality. The moral questions and moral dilemmas I often face in my own life.
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Never give up.
You can find out more about me and my work at http://www.johnling.net
The Blasphemer is available now as a $2.99 e-book from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Blasphemer-ebook/dp/B006QZ7BL4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325837491&sr=8-1
Click here to read an: Excerpt From “The Blasphemer” by John Ling