Book Specific Questions - Ash Rashid Series
Like most people, I get a lot of email. Most of it's junk, but a couple of times a day a letter from a curious reader wends its way past my spam filter and into my inbox. As a still relatively unknown writer, every one of those letters is a cause for celebration, and I try to answer as many as I can. I get asked one question more than any other, though: 'Why,' my readers commonly ask, 'did you choose to make Ash Rashid a Muslim?'
It's a good question, especially after one peruses the shelves of the local library or bookstore. Relatively few fictional detectives, after all, are overtly religious. Moreover, Ash's faith doesn't play much of a role in the plot; his character aside, it seems almost superfluous. Why, then, did I include it?
The short answer is that I thought a religious background would add some depth to his character and make him seem more human. Whether one is a believer or not, religion is part of the world. We can't escape it, so I figured I might as well include it in a book. The longer answer is, well, longer.
I'm an American. Like a lot of Americans, I have an over-sized television in my living room and well over a hundred channels, few of which are actually worth watching. If I want, though, I can turn on my TV and reliably find characters representing just about every race, religion and creed on the planet. Unfortunately, whenever I see a Muslim on television, it's almost always in the context of terrorism. In fact, if all I knew about Islam was what I saw on TV or heard about in political speeches, I'd be terrified.
Here's the thing, though: I know a lot of Muslims. Some are funny, some are loud, some are quiet, and some are pious. Almost all of them are kind and generous. None are terrorists.
I created Ash Rashid because I thought more people needed to see the sort of Muslims I know. They're good men and women who struggle every day to integrate their beliefs into a modern world that seems to neither want them nor understand them. They're black, white, brown and every shade between, and they come from every sort of background imaginable. Despite those differences, they experience the same trials and tribulations that everyone else experiences.
In short, the Muslims I know are just like everyone else, and I think that's worth writing about.
I had a couple of reasons for that. First and foremost, though, I used to live near Indianapolis. I went to graduate school at Purdue University and went to Indianapolis every couple of weeks to visit friends. I knew the city fairly well, so I knew I could orient a character in the city well.
I also set it in Indianapolis because Indy is a great city with a bright future. It's not the most exciting place in the world, but it has a very well respected police department, a decent mayor, an educated population. It's just a nice town.
I also thought it'd just be fun to do something different. It seems as if every detective series I read is set either in New York or Los Angeles. The Midwest is forgotten, and I think that's a shame because the Midwest really isn't a bad place to be.
My plan is to release one Ash Rashid novel a year for as long as people buy them. The Outsider, the second Ash Rashid novel, will debut on May 28 in the United States, and I anticipate the third Ash Rashid novel to debut roughly a year after that.
Book Specific Questions - Just Run
You know, I've gone back and forth on this. I really enjoyed writing Just Run and I really liked Trent as a character. I don't think I'm going to write another book with him, though. I hate to say that it comes down to economics, but it does. I'm a young guy with a young family, and I've got to make a living. Just Run simply did not sell enough books or receive the positive critical reception needed for me to write another book with Trent. Sorry.
General Questions for Chris Culver
Not at all. I'm left handed.