Mystery-thriller “Al-Quebeca” anticipated this week’s headlines

22 Oct

Ebook Al Quebeca v4darker charcoal thumbFor years nothing happens. Then everything happens at once. This applies to publishing novels as well as launching terror strikes.

For the record, I’m a writer, not a fighter, but I admit to a fascination with terrorism. As a Canadian, I’ve watched terrorist acts unfold across the world with frightening speed and consequences. These usually occur at a distance, allowing Canadians to be mere spectators rather than forced participants. But now, things are happening right in our backyard.

On Monday October 20th, a Quebec man named Martin Rouleau ran down two uniformed Canadian Forces soldiers in a Montreal area parking lot. Rouleau, who had embraced Islam, changing his name to Ahmad LeConverti (Ahmad the Converted), had become radicalized a year ago. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), fearing he might join other western jihadists fighting in support of ISIS, had recently seized his passport to prevent his leaving the country.

After the hit-and-run incident, Rouleau was pursued by provincial police officers in a high-speed car chase until his vehicle left the road and overturned. When he emerged from his car brandishing a knife, he was shot by officers at the scene and later died of his wounds. The incident sent ripples of concerns through CSIS, the RCMP, and Canadian Forces bases throughout Canada, raising security levels and instigating a lockdown at certain facilities.

p-hill-1Today, Wednesday October 22nd, one or more gunmen made an attempt to storm the legislative buildings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. One uniformed soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial. One gunmen was shot and killed by a Sergeant-at-Arms within the Parliament building. Office buildings in downtown Ottawa went into lockdown as local police, RCMP tactical squads and military personnel conduct a search for an unknown number of assailants, whose attack is presumed to have been encouraged by the “lone wolf” action of Martin Rouleau two days earlier.

This isn’t the first time radical Islamists have made their presence known in Canada. In 2006, CSIS arrested a group of jihadists, the Toronto 18, as they took delivery of three tonnes of ammonium nitrate intended for massive bombs in U-Haul trailers. Their targets: the Toronto Stock Exchange, CSIS offices in downtown Toronto, and a military base. After the bombs, they would storm Parliament, seize the Cabinet and behead the Prime Minister, all in time for the evening news and instant fame via al-Jazeera. But the Toronto 18 had been infiltrated and monitored for over a year before security officers swooped in.

skull-bomb@50%In April 2013, hard on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombings, two men with alleged al-Qaeda connections were arrested in Canada for plotting to derail a Canadian train traveling from Toronto to New York. Turns out there may have been an Iranian connection, wherein financial or technical aid was provided on behalf of al-Qaeda.

Although these Canadian plots admittedly pale in comparison to 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings, the reality is, Canada is as much on the front lines of the international war on terror as any other coalition nation. And not for lack of warning. For years the Mackenzie Institute, a Toronto-based think tank on terrorism, has been warning us that jihadists would necessarily change their program.

Large-scale operations like 9/11 would probably become a thing of the past. Instead, jihadists would adopt that popular line from environmentalists: “Think globally, act locally.” The terrorist equivalent would be a guerrilla war of “lone wolf” or “autonomous teamwork” missions designed to attack infrastructure and terrorize civilian populations and destabilize governments.

I published my novel Al-Quebeca less than a year ago. With every passing month, the central circumstances and events seem all the more inevitable. The plot involves an al-Qaeda sleeper cell in Montreal summoned to life by order of a Paris-based mullah. Although Osama bin Laden is long dead and gone, he’d issued a fatwa several years ago, vowing revenge against any country, Canada included, that had sided with America in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

guns_in_the_sky(Since then, ISIS has echoed equally violent sentiments, encouraging independent acts of terrorism in every western country that participates in the US-led coalition against their brutal insurrection in Iraq and Syria.)

In Al-Quebeca, the Montreal terrorist plot involves a simultaneous three-pronged strike: to sabotage the Hydro-Quebec electrical grid that supplies power to Boston and New York, behead the visiting Governor of New York and, for body-count bonus points, kill thousands of hockey fans with nerve gas.

Preposterous? Not really. For years the CIA has warned CSIS that Montreal, where almost one in four residents is Muslim or has ties to Arabic-speaking homelands, is a hot-bed of al-Qaeda sleeper cells awaiting the call to jihad. We all think it could never happen here. Until it does.

In Al-Quebeca, the heroine Sophie Gillette is a Montreal homicide detective dispatched in the middle of a snowstorm to investigate the suspicious hit-and-run death of an Iranian engineer who worked for Hydro-Quebec. Defying easy resolution, the case launches her on a collision course with biker wars, arms smuggling and, unexpectedly, a terrorist plot.

In the course of her investigation, Gillette uncovers militant students at Concordia University, drug financiers and a rogue professor with a PhD in chemical toxicology. All are linked to a shadowy figure called al-Quebeca whom Gillette must track to a brutal confrontation.

I just hate to be prescient, but as Aldous Huxley once said, The trouble with fiction is that it makes too much sense.

But don’t take my word for it. Read Al-Quebeca and judge for yourself.

You can purchase it at Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo or Smashwords.


Doris Lessing (b. October 22): “We’re always just a step away from lunacy” & other quotes on writing

22 Oct

Doris Lessing (born 22 October 1919, died 17 November 2013) was a British novelist, poet, playwright, biographer and short story writer. She was born in Persia and spent her childhood and early adulthood in South Africa before settling in London. She wrote more than 40 books of fiction and non-fiction, including science-fiction novels and two autobiographical books. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, the 11th woman and the oldest person ever to receive the prize. 

Quotes on writing:

  1. In the writing process, the more a story cooks, the better. 
  2. Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.
  3. I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach that writing is hard work, and that you have to give up a great deal of your personal life to be a writer. 
  4. You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can’t be a way of life – the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.
  5. Ask any modern storyteller and they’ll say there’s always a moment when they’re touched with fire, with what we like to call inspiration, and this goes back to the beginning of our race, to fire and ice and the great winds that shaped us and our world.
  6. As you start to write, the questions begin: Why do you remember this and not that? Why remember in every detail a whole week, month, a long ago year, but then a complete blank? How do you know that what you remember is more important than what you don’t?
  7. I’m very unhappy when I’m not writing. I need to write. I think it’s possibly some kind of psychological balancing mechanism – but that’s not only true for writers … anybody. I think that we’re always … just a step away from lunacy anyway, and we need something to keep us balanced.

Catherine Deneuve (b. October 22): “I like being famous when it’s convenient…”

22 Oct


“I like being famous when it’s convenient for me and completely anonymous when it’s not.”

~ Catherine Deneuve, b. 22 October 1943


Ursula K. Le Guin (b. October 21): “If you have to die, commit suicide” & other quotes on writing

21 Oct

Ursula K. Le Guin, born 21 October 1929, is an American author first published in the 1960s. Her work often depicts futuristic or imaginary worlds different from ours in politics, natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality and ethnography. She’s won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award several times.

Quotes on reading and writing:

  1. Write. Revise. If possible, publish.
  2. When I’m writing I don’t dream much; it’s like the dreaming gets used in the writing.
  3. Writing is my craft. I honour it deeply. To have a craft, to be able to work at it, is to be honoured by it. 
  4. The unread story is not a story; it’s little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story. 
  5. If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don’t marry and have kids, and above all, don’t die. But if you have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that.
  6. The idea that you need an ivory tower to write in, that if you have babies you can’t have books, that artists are somehow exempt from the dirty work of life – rubbish.
  7. While we read a novel, we’re insane – bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren’t there, we hear their voices… Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed.
  8. We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.
  9. Rewriting is as hard as composition is – that is, very hard work. But revising – fiddling and polishing – that’s gravy – I love it. I could do it forever. And the computer has made it such a breeze.
  10. The book itself is a curious artefact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.


Kim Kardashian (b. October 21): “I am so stereotyped…”

21 Oct


“I am so stereotyped into being this Hollywood girl.” 

~ Kim Kardashian, b. 21 October 1980

Arthur Rimbaud (b. October 20): “Life is the farce we’re all forced to endure.”

20 Oct

Arthur Rimbaud (born 20 October 1854, died 10 November 1891) was a French poet who produced his works while still in his late teens. Victor Hugo described him as ‘an infant Shakespeare’. He gave up creative writing before the age of 20. He was a restless soul who travelled on three continents before his death from cancer just after his 37th birthday.

Four quotes:

  1. Genius is the recovery of childhood at will.
  2. Life is the farce we are all forced to endure.
  3. I believe that I am in hell, therefore I am there.
  4. A thousand Dreams within me softly burn.

Odd couple birthday (b. October 20): Dr. Joyce Brothers & Snoop Dogg

20 Oct


“Men are not conditioned to be less powerful than a woman. It will be the wise woman who realizes this and is sensitive to that issue.”

~ Dr Joyce Brothers, b. 20 October 1927


“Women are in a position now to voice their opinion… women are getting empowered. The more power they get, the more voice they get to shift certain things around. Now I have a daughter, I understand. When I didn’t have a daughter, I didn’t understand.”

~ Snoop Dogg, b. 20 October 1971



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