Khaled Talib is a former journalist with local and international exposure. He has worked full time for magazines, and his articles have been published and syndicated to newspapers worldwide, while his short stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines.
Khaled is also the author of The Little Book of Muses, a collection of personal muses for writers and aspiring authors. The author is a member of the Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers Association.
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I guess this would be considered the boy’s locker room by today’s standard. While researching the Colosseum in Rome, I discovered plenty of things that I took for granted about gladiator fights. And then I realized how we’ve been duped by Hollywood.
Contrary to what the movies always show, not all gladiators were slaves nor did they always fight to the death. It’s too expensive to have a dead gladiator, especially after training and investing in these guys. It made no economical sense to exterminate the guy.
The “thumbs down” probably didn’t mean death even. Interestingly, there were also women gladiators.
Anyone who has read my first two novels will know that the stories were devoid of romance. I just couldn’t do it.
Maybe it was me at that time or maybe it was how things went along as the stories progressed. Honestly, it bothered me to include flowers and chocolates when the scenes were full of gruff and grit.
With all the excitement and intensity (and no time to lose!), I felt squeamish about including scenes with birds chirping or lovers staring into each other’s eyes.
But when I thought my mind was fixed that I will write stories without characters watching the moonlight together, I went against my own word. So I included romance in my upcoming thriller, Gun Kiss. Obviously, the title is a dead giveaway.
Why the sudden turnaround? Well, a Hollywood actress inspired me. A blonde. Watching some of her movies put me in that atmosphere. You know, when you walk past someone and you get a whiff of a perfume she’s wearing that titillate your senses? Something like that. She inspired me.
Never say never, I guess. We think we know ourselves, but see how things turn out for me? I surprised myself. You know what else? I really enjoyed writing this novel. I was passionate about it, and it only took me six months to complete.
But don’t expect the conventional “Love is in the air” with this novel. This is a thriller, after all. Expect – well, I’m not going to say more – you’ll just have to read it.
I promise you an exciting read. Of course, there’s going to be some chocolates and flowers… but there’s also going to be lots of guns. Is it going to be a Kiss Kiss Bang Bang type of story? That’s for you to decide…
If you like to be included in my email list, please contact me and I’ll keep you updated.
My new Gun Kiss has a scene where it discusses the dilemma of a woman debating whether or not she needs a handgun when her life is put in danger.
I suppose, depending where you live, the question might pop up whether or not you need to keep one.
There are more than a dozen handguns out there designed specifically for women. They are easy to carry and concealable.
Here’s an example: The Ruger LC9s (9mm).
What are your thoughts about owning a gun?
Feel free to email me @ khaled_talib AT hotmail dot com
During the early days of the Syrian war I was monitoring a family friend who smuggled himself out of the country. I didn’t say anything to anyone because his safety was paramount.
In the course of his journey he was swindled, robbed, almost killed but he made it to Egypt then to Libya before reaching Italy. Some money was transferred to him.
He kept in touch with that “someone” I know through a cell phone at various stops. He’s safe now somewhere in Europe. His wife and family are with him.
Got bitten by a relative’s horse recently after taking a selfie with it. Laceration on my right arm. I ended up at a Malaysian polyclinic for treatment.
The medical service in Singapore is very slow. So you’d expect Malaysia to be much slower. I mean really sloooooooow, plus their reputation for being too lax.
But I got the surprise of my life. I walked into a crowded polyclinic in a small Malaysian town. Lots of patients already. The staff seemed very calm (humored by my incident, of course).
So I registered, got an injection,met the doctor, ended up in another room for a dressing, got some medication after — and I was out in less than half hour. I guess they won’t cast me as the next Lone Ranger.
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.
When I set out to write INCOGNITO, I was told by industry people it was impossible to kidnap the Pope.
You can’t just write a novel and create a scene where he gets kidnapped. It has to sound believable, even though the premise is fiction.
But I found a way that sounds plausible after researching everything about the Vatican. Now, advanced readers, including one known industry personality in the United Kingdom, has this to say after reading the novel:
“The premise of such a kidnap is really darkly entertaining and sometimes I think almost highly likely!”
“Dark” seems to be the keyword as another reader left a review on Goodreads that reads, “Definitely the darkest intellectual thriller novel I’ve read this year!”
Incognito is a story about religion and politics, particularly Islamophobia, Christianity, the refugee crisis, the sudden rise of fascism in parts of Europe and NATO’s fear.
The protagonist Ayden Tanner does not believe in God. But he is assigned to find the Pope who is missing.
The question is, how much effort will he put in this mission? Will he risk his life to save someone who has nothing in common with him? Today is 15, May. INCOGNITO is out. I hope you enjoy the read.
Maybe it was Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Maybe it was David Seltzer’s The Omen. All I know I had to have my own monastery. So I created one.
The small scene in Incognito took me quite a while to construct. I was not only writing the story, I was playing medieval architect.
Photo shows the Monte Cassino monastery in Italy. Reminds you of one of those virtual combat games like Counter Strike and Assassin’s Creed and whatever else that I am too old fashion to know. Many of you know this, but I’ll just mention it anyway.They didn’t built monasteries thousands of feet above ground not for mystical reasons or in their attempt to reach God. They built them high to protect monks from marauders.
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.
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.
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.
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.