London, March 4 (Reuters): For thriller writer Gerald Seymour, writing about al Qaida offers the ultimate challenge.
From Belfast to Baghdad, the former trouble-shooting reporter for British television has an uncanny flair for prophesying tomorrow’s headlines. Now the soft-spoken novelist would love to pen a tale about al Qaida fugitives.
“People on the run, people struggling, people looking over their shoulders and the effect that they have on the people they deceive who live around them —that is fertile ground,” he said.
Seymour’s 15 years as a roving reporter gave him a rich store of ideas for his 22 novels that have sold up to five million copies around the world in 13 languages. “I write a lot about trust, betrayal and loyalties. It is when they are on the run that all of those factors come in,” he said in an interview today. But it would not be easy.
“It is difficult to comprehend al Qaida. The Provisional IRA I could always understand, Black September I could always understand. You could go to places where they came from, you could hear their spokesmen. But al Qaida is something very difficult to touch, feel and cope with,” he conceded.
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“I assume they are now looking for a new safe haven which may be very difficult to find,” Seymour said of the shadowy Islamic extremists blamed for the September 11 US attacks.
The life of deception led by a double agent has always fascinated the 61-year-old author who in his latest thriller, Traitor’s Kiss, tells the tale of a Russian naval officer’s race to escape after his treachery is exposed.
It is a taut tale meticulously researched by an author who revels in the murky world of espionage’s divided loyalties.
Despite all the sophistication of 21st century electronic surveillance, nothing beats a man on the inside. “The British were never able to break the Provisional IRA because they were unable to turn a sufficient number of individuals,” he said.
As a novelist, Seymour insists he cannot compete with the headlines. What he likes to do is delve once the media spotlight has moved on. But sometimes he gets lucky. “My book Condition Black in 1992 was about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. That was in fact published the same week that the tanks rolled in for Operation Desert Storm.”