I became introduced to Khaled Talib's writing several years ago when I discovered his political thriller, Incognito. It gripped me from the opening paragraphs and didn't let go - even after I had turned the last page. Whether right or wrong, I drew conclusions about why he may have written the story, over and above telling the story. You can read my thoughts here.
I have been fascinated with Khaled's writing mind for years, wondering how he could write stories which takes the reader across the globe. Not only that but the way he tells his stories with so much international intrigue and suspense. Having been an international journalist would certainly have been of benefit since it offered him the opportunity to see places the average person would not.
At last, I was able to catch up with Khaled Talib. He took time out of his busy schedule and decided to answer a few questions for me; I'm excited to share his responses below.
Norma: What does being an author mean to you?
Khaled: Being able to share a story that appeals to other people.
Norma: When did you first realize that you wanted to write and publish a book? How old/young were you at the time?
Khaled: I was twenty-six-years old. I considered writing a thriller and created a character of someone who would be from my industry. I was a magazine journalist for a high society magazine at that time. It was a glitzy world and I thought, "What if I decide to shatter this guy’s glamorous life and drop him in the mud?" And so, my first thriller, Smokescreen, was born; it is a spy novel about a plot to scapegoat a magazine journalist for the assassination of the Israeli prime minister.
Norma: Wow! That's incredible! If I had imagined scenarios in which I wanted to mess up someone's life, I'm sure I could never have come up with such an idea for a story. I can imagine writing an emotional roller coaster of a ride, but writing about an assassination would never have crossed my mind. It goes to show how we are all different and have something unique to offer readers.
I am still trying to wrap my mind around how your author's mind works; to say I am fascinated would be an understatement. Still, we can't stay on this subject all day so I must ask: from its inception, how long did it take you to write and publish your first book? Was the experience mostly rewarding or filled with varying levels of frustration?
Khaled: I was a magazine journalist and writing a novel was an aberration. I had no skills, just an idea. So, it took me a long time to finish my work, like twenty years. It was trial and error and I also paused for a long time because truly, I wasn’t sure if I could make it. It was intimidating to think I could write a novel when comparing myself to all the established authors. I had to discard this Imposter Syndrome feeling to accomplish my goals; this is when someone suffers self-doubt as a writer. I realized I have my own voice and I shouldn’t worry about writing in the same manner as others. So be it.
Norma: Well, I'm glad you chose to press on and write your stories, to find your own style and voice. That being said, are you currently writing another book which you hope to publish at some point? If so, we'd love to hear more about it.
Khaled: I have recently finished a novel that is scheduled to be released next year by a publisher, Running Wild Press, in California. Far Out, the title of the novel, is a standalone sequel to another book of mine, Gun Kiss. It is an action thriller about a Hollywood couple who gets into trouble once more. In the meantime, I am writing a crime thriller set in New York. I visited the state in June, 2022 for a month and what was supposed to be a holiday became a scouting mission for places to include in my work-in-progress manuscript.
Norma: I would have taken advantage of such an opportunity myself. As it is, though I never have a full month to spend in a location when on vacation, I still document my trips with photos so I can fall back upon them for inspiration, when required. I am happy to hear you are still putting the proverbial pen to paper but, since you have published multiple titles, I am curious: do you have a favourite book and, if so, what makes it your favourite? I understand us authors loving our literary babies so, if you can't decide on one favourite, that's OK; break the rules and give us two or three.
Khaled: Every novel of mine has an appeal. It’s like a box of eclectic chocolates; there are always a few favorites you can’t resist. I like all of what I’ve written and each one represents a different tempo. It’s hard to deny the characters in any of my stories whether it’s Smokescreen, Incognito, Gun Kiss or Spiral. They have individual flavors and appeal to my senses at different times. Incognito tells the story of the Pope’s disappearance – now that’s a thriller at a different level while Spiral tells the tragic life of a man in South Australia who constantly gets embroiled in trouble. Gun Kiss is action packed and exciting while
Smokescreen is sinister and suspenseful. They would all taste delightful if they were pieces of chocolate.
Norma: I enjoy each of my novels and characters, too, and wouldn't be able to choose a favourite. I like your reference to comparing your characters to pieces of the finest chocolate; that is something I have yet to hear. Now tell me: who has been a major source of inspiration for you as a writer/author?
Khaled: So many names. I think the first author who caught my attention was Robert Ludlum. The first time I saw a copy of his novel, The Bourne Identity, I thought, "What a cool thing to do for a living: writing novels." When I was around nine or ten I remember finding a box of books belonging to my mother and I saw this book written by a sixteen-year-old French girl. She had her photo on the back of the cover. I was so impressed by her that I felt compelled to write a book – someday.
Norma: And that "someday" turned into a reality. Do you now have an ultimate dream, in terms of being a writer/author?
Khaled: To be able to write as many books as possible. To become a New York Times bestselling author.
Norma: Well, you keep writing and the tally will grow higher. I have come across some authors with more than 50 books to their credit. I can only imagine! To be a bestselling author? That's doable for you; all you need is to keep impressing people with your novels as you have impressed me. (Norma smiles.) I must ask now about quotes: what is one of your favourites? It can be from a book you wrote or something you heard throughout your life.
Khaled: “Writing is the light of imagination playing over the shadow of thoughts.” It is from my personal collection of quotes and phrases, The Little Book of Muses, which is available on Amazon.
Norma: You never cease to amaze me, Khaleb. Tell us a little about your life. What does an average day look like?
Khaled: I get up at five-thirty in the morning daily. I might go for a jog later, or a walk, then come home to breakfast and chores. I will hang around on social media a bit and start writing after. I do not like pushing myself so, if I feel mentally tired, I will walk away from the computer. I’m a full-time writer so I don’t have to worry about the 9-5 routine.
Norma: Now we know a little about your life as a writer. If you take the writing out of it, what are three of your favourite hobbies?
Khaled: Not archery for sure. Tempting but, well, my days of pretending to be Robin Hood are over. I enjoy baking. It is a new hobby, but I make a hell of a basque burnt cheesecake. I am planning to learn another dessert that has been in my family for generations; it is an old recipe using saffron. I like to run but things got difficult after my return from a holiday in New York. I cannot maintain the same pace because I have put on a lot of weight. New York pizzas are dangerously tempting, that is why!
Norma: I cannot help but laugh out loud. Leave it to you, Khaled, to make me wonder what happened in New York that would affect your ability to run. I thought something from one of the subjects of your novels may have come to pay you a visit in real life and affected your capability to move as comfortably. Now whose mind has gone into overdrive? Dare I say LOL?
Norma's closing thoughts:
It has been wonderful catching up with Khaled Talib who is definitely among my favourite authors. I can imagine another review of one of his titles coming up on my litrary canvas in the not-so-distant future. I enjoy learning about people but, when someone can make me smile and laugh during the learning process, it's even better.
Published February 06, 2023