Welcome to the Espionage and Crime Thriller Blog Tour: A group of authors entertaining their readers with some thrilling tales of criminality and spying, and tales of political intrigues, corruption and espionage. Lets’ find out what they are up to at the moment. The Spymaster wants to ask some questions. Indeed, they’ve all been asked the same questions as they introduce themselves and their work. So, let’s hear what they have to say.
First up is Khalid Muhammad, Author of Agency Rules.
Whereabouts do you live?
I have lived Pakistan for the past 16 years, with the last ten in Karachi. Prior to that I lived in London and around the United States for 27 years.
Would you describe yourself as a full time writer or do you have another job?
I do have another job, but I write a great deal in both. My day job is owner and Group Managing Director of the emagine group, a marketing agency. My alter ego is as a spy thriller writer.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I love football (the European kind)! I spent a good part of my life playing football in school and leagues, and I can be found in front of a television when the Arsenal are playing. I also read a great deal across multiple genres including espionage, mystery and crime, because it helps to keep my mind running when it comes to my own writing. I have travelled a great deal and continue to look for new and adventurous places to experience.
Do you have any particular hobbies or interests?
Other than football?!?! I am a sports nut actually. I watch cricket (as of recent) but don’t ask me to explain the rules because I am still confused about some of them, baseball when the Detroit Tigers are on a live telecast, and hockey when the Chicago Blackhawks can be found on TV in this part of the world.
Name three people you would like to entertain for dinner and why?
Just 3? Mandela because he is one of the world’s greatest leaders; Ferguson Smith, one of MI6’s greatest spies and Fredrick Forsyth because he weaves such interesting characters in his novels. I would love to learn from him.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Sicily. The tradition and history of the Sicilian people is just amazing and I would love to spend a few years learning and understanding culture.
If you had one wish, what would it be?
World peace… no, kidding. If there was world peace, what would I find to write about?!? I would actually wish that people would start to question everything. We have become too complacent as citizens of the world and some people have been able to take advantage of it leading to wars and conflicts that could have been avoided, if people would just question what they are told.
Describe yourself using only three words.
Persistent, ambitious, impulsive.
What is the difference between an espionage thriller and a crime thriller?
A crime thriller is a story about two people – the one who commits the crime and the one trying to bring him to justice. An espionage thriller is about one nation’s intelligence services trying to embed itself into the fabric of another nation for intelligence gathering, covert actions and general mayhem. I like the mayhem part.
Are you currently published or do you have a ‘work in action’ you can tell us about?
I am just about to be published. My first spy thriller, Agency Rules, will be published in late November/early December of this year. Agency Rules is the story of a young man, Kamal Khan, who dreams of joining the intelligence services in Pakistan. The story takes the reader into a world of espionage in a highly volatile, nuclear-armed country, where external threats are not as dangerous as the internal ones. Kamal is an interesting character because he doesn’t fit the traditional spy mould. He joined the army at a young age, attained successes as a soldier and then became part of the intelligence services. Where he gets interesting is how he struggles with internal conflicts where his values and beliefs don’t match the objective that he must deliver for an intelligence success.
Tell us about your work and what influenced you to write in this exciting genre?
The book is more inspired by a series of events in Pakistan. When we go backwards to the 1980s and the Afghan conflict, or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a series of events was started in Pakistan that the country still suffers with today. The Taliban, terrorism, and the drug culture are all remnants of that time and we have not been able to escape it because the US invasion of Afghanistan brought it to our doorstep again. I also think that part of my motivation to write this novel was to help people understand that Pakistan is not a nation of terrorists. We have the misfortune of having self-serving politicians with no checks and balances, so the “anti-state” elements are able to prosper because many politicians and law enforcement personnel are involved for financial benefits.
Do you have a particular character that figures consistently or are you in the stage of developing a lead character?
Kamal Khan is the central character of the entire story. He is both a complicated and diverse because of his background and military experience. There is a background on Kamal posted on the pre-launch website.
As a writer, what is the most difficult obstacle to overcome?
Story and character development has been the hardest for me from my days writing short stories until now. Too many people focus on writing a one-sided story or character, but building complexity into the character and intrigue into the story gets very difficult when you don’t think out the entire storyline. I used to be a freeform writer, but now I spend more time putting together a story outline and general character sketches so that the story moves fluid through various stages. I try not to make the outline and sketch too specific because I want to let the writing flesh them out as the story goes on.
Where can we find out more about your work?
I have put together a pre-launch website for Agency Rules to share information about the story, characters and some personal thoughts. The pre-launch website is http://agencyrules.com. And where can we follow and support you on social media sites? You can find me on Facebook (novel) and Twitter.
The Spymaster thanks you for taking part in this interview, Khalid Muhammad, and wishes you good luck with your writing in the years ahead.
Thank you. Can I invite you to meet my friends in this wonderful world of writing? Just click on the names below and you’ll find yourself reading a different set of answers to the same questions. Please support my friends and fellow authors by visiting their sites and checking out their contribution. Thank you for joining me on my blog tour.