Time for another guest post! This week’s guest post is an interview with the wonderful Khaled Talib, author of Incognito. Enjoy!
Q01 – When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
I was fourteen when I tried to write a detective story. I wrote it on a school notebook. Halfway into the story, I gave up when the person sitting next to me pried into the content when I was not in class. He laughed at me, but he didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to do.
I’ve been reading detective books, which inspired me to write my own story. From that day, I stopped writing, but there was a yearning to tell stories. It took a long time before I listened to the little voice again.
Q02 – Did you find people supportive when they learned you were a writer?
Not at all. I once told a distant relative who lives overseas that I wanted to write. He told not to waste my time. He said a few more things that was disheartening. There are other stories, of course, but you get the drift. From that day I kept my dreams to myself.
Even during my school days, the teachers did not inspire us. They kept emphasizing on getting good grades more than anything else. I didn’t feel encouraged.
Years later, while working for a magazine, I had to interview a bunch of local authors. They were the most boring people I’ve ever met. They didn’t inspire me at all. I remember wanting to finish the interview as fast as I can.
During a business trip to Capetown, South Africa, I met a few people from the Singapore literary scene, including a professor and a writer who wrote in a foreign language.
I tried to introduce myself, but they didn’t even look at me as I spoke. They had their eyes everywhere else. I thought that was funny.
After my first novel was published, I met a British author who invited me to join some Asian literary club. On one occasion, they held a conference in Singapore. She invited me to attend.
She was trying to get me to join the organization, made up mostly of Asian writers. When she introduced me to a handful of people, not a single one of them cared to talk to me. Some were downright rude, in fact. I decided not to join them.
Since then, I’ve joined the International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association. These organizations have been supportive of my work.
Q03 – What is your dream goal for your writing?
I’d like to write as many books as I can, travel to different places and explore different backdrops. Singapore is too small for me.
I wrote one novel with the bulk of the story set here, but that’s as far as I want to go. Whenever I travel I find interesting materials that I can use for my stories. I’m constantly looking for fresh ideas. The world is a big place with lots of story materials you can use.
Q04 – What is the title (or working title) of your current manuscript and can you tell us a little bit about it?
The manuscript is called Gun Kiss. It’s much longer than my first two novels. It’s a thriller about a Hollywood movie star who gets kidnapped by a Mexican drug lord. She escapes with the help of the protagonist, but then the drug lord starts to stalk her.
The novel will be published by Imajin Books toward the end of this year. The story is set against the Hollywood backdrop with scenes in Los Feliz, Sunset Boulevard and all the way to Tijuana. There’s a little bit of romance too.
The novel has received endorsements from well known American and Canadian authors.
Q05 – Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
Blame it on the Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, and then as I grew older, the Robert Ludlum novels and other books. I’m hooked to the genre. I’ve no desire to write literature. I need electricity, sparks – can’t slow me down! Don’t get me wrong, I read literature, but when it comes to writing my own manuscripts, I crave pandemonium, adventure, suspense.
Q06 – What have you enjoyed most about writing this manuscript?
Amidst all the action, suspense, and breathlessness, Gun Kiss is a glamorous story inspired by the Hollywood scene. It has nice locations and interesting characters, which I enjoyed creating.
The dialogue is also exciting, especially since I have to depict different characters and professions. The way I write, scenes are vividly described. For example, when I create a house, I literally give the reader a tour of the place.
Writing Incognito was also fun. I travelled to Switzerland, Italy and Istanbul to find inspiration. I look train rides, trek mountains, delve into the cafe culture, spoke to the locals, visited churches and monuments, ate lots of pasta and pizza. I collected enough material to write my dark thriller.
Q07 – What are your best tips for marketing your books?
Apart from persistence, I do a bit of advertising, and I pitch bloggers for reviews.
I spend a lot of time sending individual emails to bloggers asking them to review my books. You can’t just be an author these days, you have to be a marketeer.
Q08 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Research and fact-checking. Sometimes the answers don’t come easily and it sets me back. I have to persist to get the information. I try to Google if I can, but I also send email queries out for confirmation.
Also, I tend to make silly mistakes; I get carried away with the plot. It becomes unfocused. I’ve to remind myself to keep it simple. It can be daunting. So I’ll take a step back and access the situation, then calmly go back to fix the problem.
Q09 – How has your background in journalism helped your writing?
The writing didn’t help whatsoever, but the knowledge on how to do research did aplenty.
I’ve no qualms writing to anyone to get information. My background saves me time on how to extract information. Apart from that, journalism and fiction writing is chalk and cheese.
Q10 – What is the single best piece of advice you could give to new writers?
Q11 – How do you find or make time to write?
I’m brutal with my time. I ignore calls, avoid social gatherings. Otherwise, you’ll never finish a page. I actually changed my phone number to send a message that I don’t wish to be disturbed.
The number is restricted to a few people only. If I were to entertain the number of people who want to meet me in a month, I’ll never get a chapter done.
Q12 – Does anyone inspire you?
Many authors inspire me. Whenever I write a new manuscript, I’m reminded of them. If you read my recently published thriller, Incognito, you’ll find a bit of Dan Brown, Umberto Eco, Robert Ludlum and Ian Fleming in the story.
It’s like cooking and experimenting with different ingredients. Let’s try this, let’s try that. And then voila! Dinner is served…
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Khaled Talib is the author of Smokescreen, Incognito and Gun Kiss (to be published year-end by Imajin Books).
He is also the author of The Little Book of muses, a collection of aphorisms for writers.
A former magazine journalist, the author is a member of the Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers. He resides in Singapore.
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 claimed to know anything about his sudden mysterious disappearance.
Three mysterious specialists are then dispatched to Europe by the global hacker group, Anonymous, to find him.
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Big thanks to Khaled for doing this interview. Please make sure to check out his links and if you have any questions for Khaled please drop them in the comment section below.
I am currently Taking a Break and will hopefully be back to regularly scheduled blogging in August (maybe September)