10 Things You Didn’t Know About INCOGNITO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Incognito was inspired by my frightful incident after encountering a mysterious woman in black one cold night in Geneva. The woman had been standing outside the building as I watched her from my room window. Later, when I went downstairs, I found her in the dim foyer. She was standing frigid, staring at me. There was no one else in the foyer. I was reminded of the governess in the old movie, The Omen. It led me to create an assassin based on this character.

2. I went for a holiday to Switzerland and Italy, but the holiday turn into research work for my novel. Meeting people, taking trains, visiting historical monuments all played a part for the story backdrop. I took down lots of notes.

3. I have always been fascinated by the Pierre Lotti café in Istanbul with its spectacular view of the Golden Horn. The first time I saw the place, it was in a tourist book. As I sat drinking apple tea, I realized I could write an action scene here, which I did.

4. Guy, one of the names of the characters in the book, is based on a real person. He was the receptionist and telephone operator in the hotel I stayed in Geneva.

5. I did some fact checking, which included contacting the Mandarin Oriental Geneva. The day I wrote “The End” after finishing Incognito’s manuscript was also the day the hotel’s marketing and communications manager resigned from her job. I had been corresponding with her to fact check some details.

6. The tourist guide’s character at Villa Balbianello in Lake Como is based on a real person who led the tour during my visit. This is the villa where they filmed Daniel Craig (James Bond) was recovering with Vesper (Evan Green) in Casino Royale.

7. I chose the novel’s title “Incognito” to blend with my previous novel’s one-word title, Smokescreen, to create a signature identity.

8. The idea of dragging the Vatican into the picture is based on my encounter with a Swiss woman I met while trekking a snowy mountain in Saint Moritz. I had asked her for directions. One thing led to another and she started complaining about her neighbor, Italy. Then she blamed the Vatican for all “the problems of the Europe.” I felt she had issues, but her words prompted me to thicken the plot.

9. The mystery side of the novel was inspired by Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and Robert Ludlum’s the Road to Gandolfo, which included a plot to kidnap the Pope.

10. There were two other characters that made up the specialist team sent to rescue the Pope. But I had to downsize to keep the plot focused. The character Guy was initially a hotel receptionist, but I merged him with another. The other, a young Swiss, had to be deleted.

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  • Keith Thomson

    Author of the New York Times Bestselling novel Once A Spy
    Khaled Talib’s novel Smokescreen is a cocktail of Deighton, Ludlum, Hitchcock, and two parts adrenaline.
  • Ruth Harris

    Million-copy NYT bestselling co-author of Hooked and Brainwashed
    Devious! Diabolical! Lurid! Intelligent and deftly plotted. Pick it up if you dare. Put it down if you can.
  • Jon McGoran

    Author of Drift
    In this action-packed thriller, Khaled Talib explores the little known relationship between Singapore and Israel, spinning a web of international intrigue that expands across the globe as inexorably as it tightens around his protagonist’s throat.
  • Jake Needham

    Author of The Umbrella Man and The Ambassador’s Wife
    I have published two novels set in the police and security services in Singapore, and I am here to tell you that SMOKESCREEN is nearer to the truth of that closely controlled little country than you might believe. It is a gripping and creepy tale of how governments can rig the way we all see the world.
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