on Tour June 19 - July 7, 2017
ABOUT THE BOOK -
Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.
The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city's bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.
Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.
When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah's eternal wrath.
CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.
What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.
Writing Forbidden – Full of Loss and RiskAs my research for Forbidden began, I prepared for long hours reading about Islam, and searching for a Muslim consultant. The only task that went smooth as glass was my interview with Edmonton’s imam, Mustafa Khattab. He gave me an armful of books and videos and an ongoing offer of assistance. Too soon, he moved away. Even so, I surged forward believing that learning about a foreign culture is simply a matter of study.
My search for a Muslim consultant took about a year. My criteria was simple. I wanted a professional woman who was Canadian, devout and yet moderate in her practice. Not many Muslims, especially women, are trusting enough to correspond with a non-Muslim stranger. Perhaps I have an honest face, because Dr. Sahar Albakkal saw my Facebook profile page and enthusiastically agreed to help me learn about Muslim beliefs, suggest Arabic names and terminology, history of Islam, and interpretation of the Koran.
Two years into Forbidden’s project, I began to admit that I had taken on an enormous task. And a dangerous one. Friends and family who learned of my intent to write a novel with Muslim characters were curious. When I explained the hero and many of the sub characters were peaceful and kind men and women, their attitude became negative. In fact, sometimes very critical. Relationships ended.
My own dear husband would become nearly livid if I talked about the great things I had discovered about the Middle East and Islam. It soon became clear that behind his agitation was irrational fear. He clung to his beliefs that Muslims are killers, terrorists. Yes, he agreed that there are law abiding Muslims everywhere, but there was no way to know who you could trust. For him, it was better to keep all of them at a distance.
And worst of all, he believed I could be inviting trouble to our home. Other authors have had to run, hide from extremists. It occurred to me also that some readers may have the same distorted views. I visualized them posting spiteful, negative reviews on Amazon. I began to believe that I probably should not publish Forbidden.
Perhaps rumors had reached ISIL, I thought. I watched for shadows near my doorstep, and locked my doors and gates 24 hours. I had joined the paranoia team.
Then I remembered the gift.
On one freezing winter day, I broke my cardinal rule. But there I was, inviting a stranger into my vehicle. I can’t explain the force that over ruled my common sense. And there sat a woman in my passenger seat, looking as terrified as I felt. Immediately, I learned she did not speak or understand English. We nodded and pointed. I smiled, trying to reassure both her and myself. While driving, and trying to figure out how to communicate, I held my hand to my chest and said, “Canada.”
She smiled brightly and said, “Afghanistan.”
I could barely breathe. Stopped at traffic lights, I turned to her. “Afghanistan?”
Her pride was obvious.
She could have been my dear grandmother, the one who made me cookies and wiped away my tears. Instead of taking my hand in a goodbye shake, this dear Muslim woman enveloped in me in her arms and kissed my cheek. A loving spell had been cast, and Forbidden began.
There is no rational explanation for our meeting. I shall never forget her.
Wow! Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog. What an amazing story. It actually brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills! As did your book! It has been so wonderful chatting back and forth with you via email - I will always consider you a friend.
Please read my review of F. Stone's book
"Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket" -