Author Interview with Khaled Talib

Today I’m hosting an interview with Khaled Talib, author of thriller “Incognito”. Thanks for answering my questions!

  1. How long have you been writing?

Notwithstanding my journalism background, I’ve been writing fiction for about thirty-five years. It was trial and error. I finally got my first novel published in 2013.

  1. What is your favorite genre to write?

I enjoy writing suspense and thrillers. I love writing scenes that’s full of rush, excitement and intensity.

  1. Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Probably horror. I get inspiration from time to time, but somehow it always ends up as a thriller. I might describe the place as being eerie, the atmosphere dark, but then I decide not to include vampires, zombies and poltergeists. Instead, I’ll put a secret agent man in the manuscript. Maybe I should start sleeping under my bed to get inspiration.

  1. Please tell us about your book.

My new thriller, Incognito, tells the story of three specialists tasked by the League of Invisible Knights (a covert division of the global hacker group, Anonymous), to find the Pope who, despite extensive security, has disappeared. Let’s just say I found a believable loophole in the realm of fiction to make the Pope vanish.

  1. Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Ayden Tanner, the protagonist, is my favorite. It wasn’t easy to create him. He’s your typical reserved Brit.  How do you describe a character that’s quiet? Some reviewers see him as the Daniel Craig version of James Bond, you know, hardly smiles, hardly says a word.  So, while writing this character, I had to bring out that kind of personality, but give him enough dialogue so that the readers know he’s there. He is, after all, the protagonist. Early reviewers and readers seem to think I passed.

The least of my favorite is the Dutch senator, Van Der Haas. I’m not a big fan of politicians who fuel fascist and other extremist views. This character represents all that we are seeing in the world today. He is sleek, well-groomed, and charming. He doesn’t get his hands dirty. He’s got proxies to that for him.

  1. What was the hardest part about writing your book?

I spent a lot of time doing research from checking out train schedules between Switzerland and Italy. I also had to learn the different types of weaponry used by specialists and other security forces. While the novel is best described as an espionage thriller, I had to tread carefully on issues related to religion.

The story is primarily focused on the Vatican and Islamophobia. Yet at the same time, I didn’t want to create a cliché good versus evil type of story — I wanted something that was dark.

Describing Italy’s monuments was tough for me as I just couldn’t write them as “the old buildings.” I needed the reader to feel the scenes in my description. The result: I spent time researching ancient Roman history as well as Italy’s medieval history.

  1. What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I don’t have a special routine. I’ll write whenever I feel like writing. Sometimes, I have some chocolate to keep my energy up. I can spend hours in front of the computer. If I’m on the roll, I can work till late. But I’m not a crazy or obsessed that you can’t get me out of my chair. I need to shower, right?

  1. How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

It took one year and four months to complete Incognito, including rewrites. We’re talking writing daily. Sometimes I finish a page, on other days, I can finish a chapter or two.

 

  1. Can you tell us about your editing process?

I’ll rewrite the manuscript on the go and when it’s all done, I’ll rewrite it again, and again until I feel I can do no more. Then I leave it to the editor to resolve the copy and development. When it comes back to me, I usually end up fixing it again because there will be things I didn’t spot earlier. That’s the role of the editor — they see want you can’t see.  I’ll take a break, ponder over things, and find ways to fix the errors.  You need a lot of stamina for this part. It’s like weight lifting, it’s always painful when you have to do the extras. But you have must. Then I’ll take a break, come back to it when I’m ready and go through it once more before I think it’s all good.

  1. Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

It’s not part of a series, although some reviewers have commented hoping to see the characters as part of a series. At this juncture, I haven’t thought about creating a series.

  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up and trust your editor.

  1. Why should everyone read your book?

 My action scenes are notably vivid. You’ll feel like you’re involved in the scenes, almost like virtual reality. This is a style you’ll see in every novel of mine. Both readers and my editors have commented on it. Also, the way I write, it’s not slow. I dislike boring readers with pages after pages of words. I don’t want the reader to lose interest, otherwise how can the story be suspenseful? Incognito takes the reader to many different countries, so it’s exotic. I go out of my way to describe these places.

  1. If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

I’d like to meet New York Times bestselling authors Gayle Lynds and Ruth Harris.  And if Mary Shelley was alive, I’d like to invite her for coffee at midnight.

  1. What inspired you to write your book?

I was on holiday in Switzerland and Italy. My accidental encounters with two strange women gave me the idea for the story. The first woman, all dressed in black, stood outside my motel one cold, dark night. When I came down later, she was standing inside the foyer. She gave me the creeps. She was just standing there, rigidly, staring at me. There was no one else. I ran upstairs again. She looked like Damien Thorn’s governor, so I gave her a nickname “Satan’s Nanny.” As for the second person, I bumped into her while trekking a mountain. I asked her for directions as she was coming down the mountain, but she continued to talk to me. She began rambling about the Vatican, bringing up politics. It was bizarre.

  1. Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

Gun Kiss is in the editing stages. It will be published by Imajin Books in Canada. It has received advance praise from several well-known authors including Gayle Lynds, K.J. Howe and Jon Land. The novel tells the story of a Hollywood movie star who gets kidnapped by a Mexican drug lord. The bulk of the story takes place in California.

About Incognito

Pope Gregoire XVII was last seen waving to the crowd at Saint Peter’s square from the famous Apostolic Palace window. Despite several layers of tight security, neither the Gendarmerie nor The Entity (the Vatican’s secret service) or the Swiss Guards claim to know anything about his sudden mysterious disappearance.

As the world mourns for the pope, a frantic search begins in Italy and beyond its borders amid speculation that the Holy See may know more than they are telling.

Ayden Tanner, a former British SAS commando officer — who is officially dead — is dispatched with two other crew members to find the Supreme Pontiff by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil.

A secret arrangement is made for Ayden to meet Rafael Rabolini, the Papacy’s press secretary, in Geneva, who might be able to tell him more. But trouble unexpectedly starts from the moment Ayden arrives in the city that winter day…

The story unfolds to reveal an insidious plot by Willem Van Der Haas, a ruthless Dutch senator who has aligned himself with a world power bent on its own global ambitions.

In a gasping chase that races from the snowy mountains of Switzerland to the secret passages under Saint Peter’s Basilica to the hilly terrains of Istanbul to the harsh desert air of Egypt, Ayden and his crew are forced to match wits with lethal assassins as they struggle on a desperate quest to prevent a terrifying tomorrow.

A tumult of intrigue, action, suspense from the author of Smokescreen.

Author Bio

Khaled Talib is a former journalist with local and international exposure. His articles have been published and syndicated to newspapers worldwide, and his short stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines.

The author, who resides in Singapore, is a member of the UK Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers org.

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