I’ve spent my life encouraging others to read – from when I was a teacher to now I’m in a U3A reading group. Consequently, I’m delighted to welcome Khaled Talib to Linda’s Book Bag today. Author of Incognito, Khaled sums up exactly what I’ve been trying to tell non-readers and readers alike about the value of books.
Published by World Castle on 17th May 2017, Incognito is available for purchase here.
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.
My Pen is my Gun
A Guest Post by Khalid Talib
When my first novel, Smokescreen, was about to be published, a magazine editor in Singapore, cautioned me not to expect many readers here. She described Singapore as not being a reading society. She was telling me something that I already know.
Our observation was confirmed by the local media when it ran an interview questioning the public about their reading habits. Most people admitted they don’t read, citing the lack of time. Tell that to the person reading a book in the New York subway or the London underground as he goes to work and back.
I don’t want to speculate the real reasons why people here don’t read. As it is, I am not relying on them to share my enthusiasm. The world is my oyster. If only they knew the value of writers. After all, they didn’t give world acclaimed authors like Gabriel García Márquez and Naguib Mahfouz the Nobel prize for nothing.
Sometimes, an author’s novel makes you see the bigger picture by starting with a speck. If you don’t read, you might be inside that speck and not know it until it’s too late. Even if the author writes commercial fiction, there is value in his work because he is still inviting you to discover more about life through adventure or a situation. In that process, you might even discover more about yourself. When you laugh, smile, get excited or angry as you read a passage, that is the author evoking your emotions.
I recall reading an eco-thriller by Jon McGoran. It tells you about the dangers of agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology. Yes, I’ve read newspaper articles about Monsanto. However, by reading novels, I learned about greed and the lack of empathy for humans that make giant companies do what they do for profit.
George Orwell’s 1984 wasn’t just a work of fiction. It was a warning. Look at the world today. Political austerity. His warnings came to pass.
Even romance novelists offer meanings in life. Such authors teach you to be gentler, acquire finesse, be humbler. Who else is going to remind you to hear the birds chirp? Stories of romance also take you to various places that increases your general knowledge about people and the world. Is that not an education?
Many years ago, I recall reading Island of the Blue Dolphins, a children’s novel written by Scott O’Dell. It moved me. The story tells of a young indigenous American girl stranded alone for years on an island off the California coast. As a kid, all I knew about the native Americans is what I see on TV. Cowboys and Indians: the former were savages and the cowboys were heroes. That book changed my perspective from the eye of the protagonist, a girl named Karana, who narrates her experiences. More importantly, all praise to the author of the book for opening my eyes. He made me more emphatic.
Authors try to stretch their imagination as far as they can go. His or her pen might take you on a serious or funny journey, but there’s always a message. A society without writers and artists is like having pasta without sauce. Don’t you agree? So how do you want to live your life? Colourful or bland?
About Khaled Talib
Khaled Talib is the author of the political thriller, Smokescreen, and the recently published Vatican thriller, Incognito. His third thriller, Gun Kiss, will be published this year by Imajin Books. Khaled is a former magazine journalist with local and international exposure. He is a member of the UK Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers. He resides in Singapore.