Here’s what people are saying about Talib’s new book, Gun Kiss :
“Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib is an incredibly suspenseful novel filled with twists and turns that left me flipping the pages as quickly as I could!” – GoodReads Reviewer
“Take a deep breath, because Gun Kiss’s special brand of high-octane action is on its way to market, and it’s a hell of a ride especially recommended for thriller readers who like their action not only nonstop, but tempered with a bit of romance and a lot of world-hopping political confrontations.” – GoodReads Reviewer
When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
Around seven I started showing interest in reading, delving into the realm of imagination as far as it would take me. I didn’t have the skills then but I found myself being a good essayist in school. It was not until I was about 15 when I tried to write my own murder-mystery. I gave it up halfway after a classmate mocked at my attempt. I tried again when I was in my twenties and failed miserably. But my little voice told me not to quit, so I tried again and again. I self-taught myself how to write. It was trial and error and with the help of an editor, I got my first novel published in 2014.
Writing is a platform that allows me to explore and express my imagination, and that’s why I write. It offers a sense of adventure. I can be here, there, anywhere without being physically present. You get a kick when you create characters, write scenes and watch your manuscript develop. Who needs opium when writing lifts you up?
Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
I had gone jogging that morning. It was the first day after so long. When night time came I couldn’t sleep because my legs began to ache. So I decided to watch an old movie with a famous actress, who also reminded me of an old school friend. It led me to write a thriller about an obsessed druglord who kidnaps the actress. Funny how one finds inspiration for a story. What a stumble!
You mentioned this is the first book in a series, Can you tell me more about this series?
I am thinking of writing a sequel because I enjoyed writing the first one. It’s easy reading, not heavy, and I feel the characters should continue living. But I’m looking for a fresh plot. I might make it more humorous, not sure – it depends. Gun Kiss has a bit of this and that. Bottomline, if I do write another and another, I’d like the reader to finish the book and say, “What a fun read!”
What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Gun Kiss features several themes, but the main one is racism, which would explain why I weave in the Deringer. It carries a message but you’ll have to read the novel to understand. The assassin John Wilkes Booth was a racist and he shot Lincoln because he didn’t like the president’s policy. In Gun Kiss, I resurrected Booth who speaks with a different attitude. I’m not sure if he was brought back from the dead today would he still harbor those thoughts, but he is an interesting character nevertheless.
What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
Depending on the stages in my life, I would say every book that I’ve read. Every author is a teacher. I enjoyed reading children’s books, literature to commercial fiction. They all impacted me one way or another. But I would say George Orwell’s 1984 had a strong impact. Look at the world today: they want to control you, monitor you, and make you decide what you like and what you should dislike. The list goes on.
Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
There are two ways now to get published: the traditional way, which is a rough road or the self-published way. But make no mistake. you need a skilled editor to help you develop your story. Writing “The End” at the end of the page is just the beginning of your efforts to become a published author. So patience is a virtue and tenacity is a must. Above all, don’t give up.
Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this Winter?
Apart from the books of authors who have endorsed my own novel, Gayle Lynds, Jon Land and K.J. Howe, check out Carmen Amato’s Emilia Cruz detective series. Also, Jean Rabe’s The Dead of Winter (Piper Blackwell mystery), and Judith White’s Sam Flanagan murder-mystery detective series set in the 1940s.
If you could have dinner with a novelist, dead or alive, who would it be?
Mary Shelley. I’m trying to imagine that period of time when she lived, somewhere between the 1700s and 1800s. This person was deep. I mean to be able to write a story like Frankenstein at that time – what a genius. The novel was horrifying and philosophical at the same time. First thing I’d ask her is, “Who are you, really?”
Do you have any strange antics when you write?
Apart from coffee and chocolates being a must, I talk to myself. Well, it’s more like trying to listen if the dialogue of my characters sound awkward or not. Sometimes, I listen to music to get it going, and it works when I am writing a fast scene. Other times, I hum.
What would life be without coffee?
Zombie-ish. Avoid me at all cost … I’ll eat you. Yikes!
Published: December 1, 2017
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A stolen piece of history, an abducted actress and international intrigue…
When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen.
After Blake’s return from overseas, he receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.
The tall buildings around Washington, D.C.’s 10th Street overshadowed the historic Ford’s Theatre. Though the building had undergone refurbishment both inside and out, it still seemed slightly out of place in modern America. However, that didn’t stop the throngs of tourists visiting the building that June morning as wispy clouds threaded through the cerulean sky.
It was a crowded weekend day when Abraham Lincoln, in his overcoat, and two Union soldiers, their faces covered with bandanas, stepped out of the van. They meandered past the theater’s five historic doorways toward the modern glass entrance. Everyone assumed they were part of a promotion taking place at the museum. It was not uncommon to see park rangers and tour guides dressed in period costumes.
The man behind the Lincoln mask was Rick Walker—at least, that was the name he was currently going by. Highly educated, the thirty-six-year-old professional thief had a penchant for the fast life. If the assignment was a success today, he’d promised his girlfriend a nice holiday.
Two female park rangers stepped forward when Rick and his companions reached the front of the line.
“You have to get in line, sir. Also, you need to get tickets. Kindly remove the mask and bandanas before entering,” one of the park rangers said.
“I do apologize, madam, but I’m in a bit of a hurry,” Rick said. “I don’t think I need a ticket, nor do I have to get in line given who I am.”
“That’s the only way you’re going to get in,” the park ranger said.
“Well, if you insist, madam, and once again, please accept my apologies.” Rick bowed and tipped his hat, then extended a hand to the park ranger, who instinctively took it.
Rick grabbed her wrist tightly and locked it to his own with a steel cuff.
“What are you doing?” the park ranger yelled, trying to jerk her hand away.
“Getting acquainted,” Rick said.
The park ranger reached for the walkie-talkie strapped to her belt, but Rick snatched it away from her. Frantically, she turned to the other park ranger. “Get security!”
One of the two Union soldiers dropped his prop rifle and grabbed the other park ranger’s hand, then cuffed her wrist to his own. He pulled out a real gun tucked under his waistband and aimed it at her.
Rick unbuttoned the jacket of his three-piece suit and brandished the bomb strapped to his chest.
“Bomb! Bomb!” a young teenager in the line shrieked.
Pandemonium broke out as the screams of panic amplified. People ran in every direction. Those who moved slowly were slammed aside, or knocked over.
Rick pulled the ranger cuffed to him aside. “We’re going downstairs, and we’re going to take the Deringer. Obey your president,” he said in a hollow voice.
“Yes, sir,” the park ranger said as beads of sweat formed on her forehead.
They descended by elevator and emptied into an interactive museum. The wealth of history in the dimly lit space featured original artifacts in glass showcases, furniture, statues, murals, and narrative devices. The visitors already in the museum scattered wildly at the sight of a man in a Lincoln mask displaying a bomb strapped to his chest, a park ranger cuffed to his wrist.
“Show’s over, folks,” Rick yelled. “Go!”
The park ranger guided her captors to a section in the museum where the Deringer floated in an oblong glass case capped at both ends with wood. A mural behind it depicted John Wilkes Booth firing a single shot at Abraham Lincoln as he sat in the theater box.
The Union soldier not cuffed to a park ranger took out a glasscutter from his coat pocket and began to cut a circle in the glass. When it popped free, he inserted his hand inside and yanked out the Deringer.
“We’re going to take you with us. Don’t give me trouble. If you behave, you’ll be back home in time for dinner with the family,” Rick said, dragging the park ranger closer to him. “Understand?”
The park ranger nodded once, nervously.
“Excellent,” Rick said.
They exited through the theater’s main door and stepped out into the empty street. The crowd had dispersed. Some had regrouped tensely a few hundred meters away at both ends. “Cheer up—it’s going to be a fun day,” Rick said, walking toward the van.
The park ranger with Rick raised her voice. “Please, please, let us go. I don’t want to die.”
“Well, behave and everything will be fine.” He opened the side, forced her in and jumped in after her. He shut the door after the accomplice had climbed in with the second park ranger.
The van began to move off.
“Hallelujah!” Rick yelled in excitement behind the mask as he sat at the back of the van. He removed the cuff from his wrist and secured the park ranger onto a railing.
“We’ll be arriving in five,” the driver said after a few blocks. “You know what to do.”
“I sure do,” Rick said as he removed the bomb strapped to his chest. Still wearing the mask, he looked at the hostages. “Don’t worry about the bomb, it’s fake.”
He unhooked a tote bag from the wall and began removing the contents. Facing away from the hostages, he removed the Lincoln mask and slipped into casual attire. He hid his face by putting on a red baseball cap and a pair of dark shades then stuffed the costume into the bag and swung it over his shoulder.
Rick looked again at the park rangers. “Look on the bright side—now you get to tell visitors a different story at the museum.”
The Union soldier in the back with him handed over the Deringer, which Rick slipped into the bag.
The driver slowed down and stopped behind a parked car.
“All good outside?” Rick asked.
“Yeah…all good. I parked a few cars behind us,” the driver replied, looking at the side mirror.
“Okay. Nice doing business with you guys.” Rick pulled open a trapdoor in the center of the floorboard, slid out, and slithered under the parked car in front of the van.
The van pulled away from the curb and sped down the street. After a minute, Rick rolled onto the road, got up, and walked toward the park at Judiciary Square on the Red Line and descended into the Metro.
A day later, Rick sat at a café with his eyes glued to the screen of a laptop, drinking a hot latte with his back against the wall. He scanned the faces of everyone who entered. Though he wasn’t expecting trouble, he remained vigilant.
“Is it in yet?” the tall blonde sitting across from him asked.
He scratched the roughness of his stubble as he continued to stare at the screen. “Not yet.”
Moments later, the figures on his account changed. A new deposit had been registered: ten million dollars.
Rick lifted his eyes. “Darling.”
“Remember, we’re in a public place, so don’t scream.”
She leaned forward. “It’s in?”
Rick wriggled his eyebrows. “Pack your bags. We’re going on a holiday, as I promised.”
A former magazine journalist and public relations practitioner, Khaled Talib has authored three thrillers since 2014.
His work has been praised by NY Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, NY Times bestselling author Ruth Harris, USA Today bestselling author Jon Land, NY Times bestselling author Keith Thomson, K.J. Howe, and Jon McGoran. The author, who resides in Singapore, is a member of the International Thriller Writers.
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Hope you are able to check out this author and his new book, Gun Kiss! Comment below if you’ve read the book. Until next time, Happy Reading 🙂