At first I was impressed that you had made several of the officers and investigators in the book women. But then I started thinking about the women in the novel, and I realized that not very many of them are warm and caring individuals. And several characters are motherless. Were you aware that you had mothers die young and that, except for Catherine, most of the women seem to have a low opinion of men or are just simply not nice (like Lalla)?
I set out to make Megan not likable, but with the potential to be a true heroine, which I think/hope she proved to be at the end. Lalla I wanted to come across as a zealous accomplice to terror, a true believer who would do anything for Lahani and her husband. There was no intent to put the women in the story into any particular category. Genevieve LeGrand gave in to vanity, but stood tall when she had to. Charles Raimondi was a true jerk. I see people’s flaws as not related to their gender but to their humanity.
From the flower seller we meet early in the novel to Annabella Jeritza, Francois Duval, and even the church, fate, fortune telling, second sight, and miracles all play a part in the book. Are you a believer in fortune telling and miracles?
I believe that there is a higher power that plays a role in shaping our destinies that takes many forms, some obscure, some obvious. And yes, I do believe in miracles. You and I are miracles. A tree is a miracle. We take miracles for granted because we see them every day, but that doesn’t make them less miraculous.
You make references to several well-known terrorist attacks that have taken place in recent history. Is this novel meant to be your interpretation of the people behind those events or have you simply used history as a frame for your novel?
The answer is both. We’ll never know who exactly was behind many of the terrorist attacks that have taken place over the last 30 or so years. There has been mention of the Al Haramain Brigade and Salafist Jihad in connection with the bombings in Casablanca in 2003 and other attacks. Nineteen of the 21 9/11 terrorists were Saudi Arabian. I used history as a frame for fiction, but I tried to keep it close to the factual record so that the reader could identify the events of the novel with his or her understanding of world events.
James LePore is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month, which means we are offering sensational deals on his work. You can read more about the program here.