Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"A fair and balanced account of ... the Islamic world today"

Earlier this month, I noted that Malaysian-born writer John Ling (pictured), who now lives in New Zealand and works at our national broadcaster TVNZ, released his debut thriller, THE BLASPHEMER on Amazon (Kindle) in late December.

Now an interesting interview with Ling by Lydia Koh of The Malaysian Insider has been published, talking about his debut thriller, and dealing with the politics and global issues entwined within it. Ling talks to Koh about how at times Muslims are treated as "a single monolithic block", while nothing could be further from the truth. Ling says THE BLASPHEMER, which his debut novel, but his second publication after a collection of short stories, is his attempt to "provide a fair and balanced account of what's really shaping the Islamic world today - the conflict between progressive Muslims and fundamentalist Muslims".

In the interview, Ling also shares more about the extensive research he did to ensure he dealt with the issues and the Muslim faith "in a way that's as authentic and respectful as possible", including reading the Koran, the hadith and other Muslim writings, and seeking out non-Malaysian academics to get insight into a particular strain of Islam (the central character is a Sufi Muslim who faces a death threat after he publishes a controversial book). Ling also contacted special forces personnel to gather insights for other characters.

Ling also shares some thoughts on how digital publishing is changing the author-reader relationship, the feedback he used in honing the final version of the book, and much more. You can read the full piece on the Malaysian Insider website here.

THE BLASPHEMER is currently available from Amazon Kindle exclusively for three months, but will be available from other outlets, such as Smashwords after that time.

On Amazon, the book comes complete with an afterword discussing the inspiration and background behind the story; two non-fiction essays on Islam and terrorism; and two bonus excerpts from other works-in-progress.

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