Today we're excited to chat with A.E. Sawan, author of Al Shabah: An Assassin's Story.
Read on for more about A.E. and his book, plus a giveaway!
Meet A.E. Sawan !
A.E. Sawan was born into a Christian family on the outskirts of Zahle in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. By the age of 12, he and his family had been forced to move five different times because of the country's shattering civil war (1975 to 1990). Detained and tortured on several occasions by both the Syrian Army and the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLO), he eventually became a counter-terrorist operative specializing in diffusing bombs. Having survived the war, he severed his connections to violence and left Lebanon for Canada.
Meet Al Shabah: An Assassin's Story!
AL SHABAH: An Assassin’s Story, is based on the true story of the author’s experiences growing up in Lebanon during that country’s bloody civil war, as well as his time as a counter-terrorist operative. The story follows “Paul” from his childhood in the Bekaa Valley to adulthood when he is recruited and trained as a killer by both Israel’s Mossad and the CIA.
A tale of obsession and revenge, in this first book of the Al Shabah Assassin Series, Paul ultimately finds himself on the trail of a childhood nemesis who had become the feared charismatic leader of a violent jihadist group. This fast-paced thriller takes Paul around the world in his personal search for truth and justice, and a final showdown with a yellow-eyed terrorist who one violent day ended Paul’s childhood and set him on the road to becoming an assassin.
A.E Sawan based Al Shabah: An Assassin’s Story on his real experiences fighting in the Lebanese Civil War during his youth. The story follows Paul, a provincial child ripped from his home in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon after an attack kills his neighbors in front of him. Living as a refugee in his own country, Paul vows to protect his neighbors at any cost. At sixteen, the CIA and Israel’s Mossad recruit and train Paul to fight against extremists, turning him into a spy for the government. Al Shabah offers vivid action sequences interspersed with glimpses of an ordinary life forced into extraordinary circumstances, told from the point of view of an author who understands civil war and terrorism first-hand.
Paul is a Lebanese teenager who finds himself fighting for his country at a very young age. Can you introduce Paul to us?
Paul is an ordinary kid living in Lebanon, riding his bike, getting into the kinds of mischief kids get into. At ten years old, Paul witnesses the gruesome murders of three young men, which changes his life forever. He’s naively drawn into combat, then disillusioned by it pretty quickly. While leading a normal life outwardly, he develops the skills he needs to fight the terrorists who killed his neighbors and ruined his country. He is eventually recruited to form an elite, top-secret counter-terrorist unit as a teenager.
Throughout Paul’s journey, he is tortured and experiences the difficulties of growing up as a refugee in his own country. Can you talk about the progression of Paul’s character?
In the very first line of Al Shabah Paul tells us that he has become the kind of man he hates. Torture is part of it. Torture takes something away from you. It’s not the pain or the fear of pain that scares him—it’s your knowledge that he is losing a part of what makes him human. As a refugee, you are never at home. Never able to relax. Paul is robbed of his childhood. Robbed of his home, his country, and everything he took for granted. Almost against his will, he finds himself transforming from a scared teenager into a trained assassin.
You come from a similar background as Paul. What parts of Paul’s character do you relate to your own?
I was born in the town where Al Shabah begins and in the same time period as well. My own family escaped the war and moved five times in one year when the war was happening. Al Shabah started out as autobiography then it morphed into fiction. Paul became my alter ego. In some ways we’re very similar to me, but in other ways we’re not alike at all. We share some of the experiences in the book, but not all of them. It’s sometimes said that writing fiction is the best way of telling the truth. It worked that way for me when telling Paul’s story.
Did you have difficulty translating your own personality into fiction?
It was challenging in some ways. I gave Paul many of my experiences and some of my personality, but I had to see him from the outside so that I could make him come alive to the reader. I am amazed that he survived everything thing he did!
This is book one of an ongoing series. What’s next for Paul?
Book Two of the Al Shabah Assassin Series is called Vendetta. A new wave of violence erupts in Lebanon. After it claims the lives of the American ambassador and his entire family, the CIA needs Paul to find a way to stop him. The catch: He’s called the Phantom for a reason. No one knows who he is. No army or faction claims him. Stopping him will be like finding a vaccine for terrorism. But the Phantom also has a personal motive: to track down the killers of his terrorist brother—a mission that was carried out in West Beirut by Paul and his S7 team.
Al Shabah: An Assassin's Story
By: A.E. Sawan
Publisher: WildBlue Press
Release Date: October 18th, 2017
Two winners will each receive a copy of Al Shabah: An Assassin's Story A.E. Sawan) ~ (US Only)
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