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MARK in INDIA, 2012

From a June 2013 interview.

 "Yes, many people think the variety of my books is bizarre. They're very different. That's just the way it's happened.
"A common theme? That would have to be a fascination with 'Why' people do what they do runs through each book.
  • In Memories of Admiral Yi, why did Admiral Yi do what he did, and in his case, how?
  • In Married To Islam, what were Dalia's reasons for converting to Islam? To sticking with that husband? For doing what she did?
  • In The Shiva Paradox the motives of Temple Cook, the erstwhile hero, of his friend Captain Tom, of the seemingly evil 'Joe the Snake' and monstrous 'Greg the Giant,' and of the beautiful Deena, are key to the whole thing.


"My first published book, The Priest Wonho's Memories of Admiral Yi, was historical fiction. Of course, regarding Admiral Yi it was the most accurate historical fiction you could ever find.
"The Admiral is one of the greatest men--and human beings--who ever lived. To me, he is the ultimate commander. Only Alexander the Great could compare.
"Yet it is the little things about Admiral Yi that made me want to write about him. His kindness towards children. Risking his career, and maybe his life, to help refugees. His unswerving loyalty to the ideal of a divinely ordained king even as his showed the most terrible of weakness and idiocy. How he did what he did, twelve ships against over one-hundred fifty, all filled with lethal samurai who had one primary goal--to gain glory by killing him."


"Then came Married To Islam. Couldn't be more different--a true story, a memoir. And a woman's book! Admiral Yi turned out to be mostly for men, and for Korean women who love him. But Married to Islam--it turned out to be a chick flick of a book! And I am one of the authors! Women love it.
That's not how I meant it. To me, it was for men, too. But, hell, I also thought women would like Admiral Yi more than they have so far.
Still, Dalia's story is fascinating--and anybody, male or female, who is interested in some very surprising perspectives and insights about Islam would enjoy it. The marriage contract alone is worth it's weight in gold. A woman who has a solid contract has as many, or more, rights than most women in western countries--and who would have guessed? And Mohammed, peace be upon him, was actually pro-women, especially given his era and culture. The surprises, at least for me, just kept coming.

There is a lot in The Shiva Paradox. If you've never been to India you'll know it pretty well after following Cook's adventures. Not as well as after Maximum City or Shantaram, perhaps, but what is there is 100% accurate. And regarding spirituality in India--some of the gurus, swamis, craziness, and depth--it's exact. Temple Cook's path is in a large degree my own, and much of what he hears and experiences is precisely what I did.
Plus it's a lot of fun. My friend Belva of www belva's list. com yelled at me. She said that once she got into an early version so much that she couldn't go to sleep until she'd seen what happened next, and that she kept thinking that until she finished the book. And that was at 4 in the morning. That showed me I got it right in The Shiva Paradox. A few readers like that make a book worthwhile, though a lot of them would be even nicer."