As the outline for Trophy Target started to come together, it was clear that Fadi Khaldun would need to travel to Afghanistan as part of his hunt for Prince Michael’s kidnappers. I planned from an early stage to have Fadi, in some respect, interact with an Afghan warlord. I didn’t know the circumstances quite yet or even why, but since warlords dominate Afghan culture and politics, it seemed like a “must have” for the story.
For inspiration, I started researching the backgrounds of Afghanistan’s various warlords. My first stop was Wikipedia, which has a handy list here. Nothing really stood out as the inspiration for a compelling storyline, so I broadened my search to the internet as a whole, hoping to find something useful like a news article. That’s when I came across an article in the BBC about Bibi Ayesha, Afghanistan’s Feared Woman Warlord.
Using real life people as the basis for fictional characters is a risky business, ranging from simply offending someone to confusing your readers to even incurring legal liability for a defamation claim. In this case, Ms. Ayesha’s inspiration for the character Huma Tanin a/k/a al-Saqr was limited solely to the gender of the warlord. So I’m confident my warlord character allows me to safely sidestep those figurative landmines.
I did not set out to have the warlord that I knew must appear in Trophy Target be female. It wasn’t even on my radar given the justified stereotype of Afghani women as second class citizens. But when I came across Ms. Ayesha’s profile, I realized that contrast was what made using a female warlord a great choice. Reader’s wouldn’t expect it but I could always point to Ms. Ayesha as an example to show it wasn’t such a far fetched idea.
Once I settled on that direction for the book, the rest of the story line involving Fadi’s interaction with the warlord character started coming together quickly and almost on it’s own. I took that as confirmation that the choice in the high level inspiration for Huma Tanin was correct.
Trophy Target is available now in ebook and print format. More information, including purchase information, is available here.