On Writing About the War on Terror. By Connie Atkinson

Yesterday, Tom and I had the good fortune to be guests on the Dan Rivers Show on WKBN in Youngstown, Ohio, about our new novel, The Brotherhood of Purity. It is the story of an American journalist pitted against an Islamic terrorist. We had a wonderful time talking with Dan who is a skilled and intelligent interviewer. Glad folks were listening and had a good response. Some listeners felt that we conveyed an impression of sympathy for terrorist causes. We felt that this was an important observation that deserves the most thoughtful of responses.

Tom and I are trying to tell a story. After 9-11 we asked ourselves innumerable times, like so many Americans, “What were those guys thinking?” We did much research in search of an answer and our findings illuminated that question in many unexpected ways. When we began writing, we decided to write the book as fiction to reach a wider audience. Also, we just wanted to tell a “romping good tale” as one of our beta-readers called it.

We believe it is important for America to think about how we conduct the War on Terror because, regardless of whether or not we feel safe at home, there are thousands of American military personnel who are dying and being maimed by this ongoing fight; there are many, many more dying every day by their own hands; there are still more who are homeless and unemployed and our country is not doing the best job of protecting them. We need to think about what we are doing and whether there is a better way to protect them as well as the folks on our shores. Lest we forget, Americans dying and being harmed on foreign soil is, nonetheless, Americans dying. In that sense, no, we are not safe and we add to this the erosion of our freedoms that is taking place day by day.

As long as Americans, anywhere, are dying and being harmed; as long as hundreds of billions of dollars are being consumed in the fire of war; as long as innocent people in the Mideast are also suffering death and injury at our hands which only seems to help terrorists recruit more suicide bombers and enemies who plot to destroy us all, don’t we have an obligation to continue to explore better ways of, not just ending war and avoiding future wars, but of creating lasting peace?

This is a story that took courage to write. We had to battle our own demons, and each other, a great deal. At the start, we just wanted to lash out at the terrorists and vent our own hurt and rage. But in the end, we realized that it was necessary to become detached from our own beliefs and just tell the story. The story took many about-turns as we were writing and started seeing more layers to the truth than we ever imagined existed. We think we wrote a book that many will find surprising and, perhaps, edifying.

The story, itself, never addresses the issue of whether, or not, the authors sympathize with terrorist causes, or not, nor should it. In the interest of integrity we just tell the story. In reality, we found that the story told itself as we were writing it. There is no purpose or advantage, in our eyes, in telling the reader what to think, but in showing many viewpoints and then letting folks come to their own conclusions. We hope that, like all good books, it will touch on some of our common human experiences and provoke a dialogue.

I’ll leave you with a short review by one of our NetGalley reviewers:

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the characters were engaging and believable. I applaud the aims of the authors, and look forward to more from this pair.” Alan Fisher

We would love to hear from our readers. Write us at http://www.thebrotherhoodofpurity.com and let us know what you think?