Paul is a new to me author, so I had a bit of a chat with Paul to find out more about the author and his book.
Fascist populists, callous sex-traffickers and murderous mafia gangs – these were not what Pastor Jude Kilburn had expected to face when he moved to Albania. But when vulnerable 19-year-old Alban disappears from his poverty-stricken village to seek work in Greece, Jude has to undertake the perilous journey across the mountains to try and rescue him from the ruthless Athenian underworld. Accompanied by a volatile secret-service agent and a reformed gangster, Jude soon finds himself struggling to keep everyone together as personal tensions rise and violent anti-austerity riots threaten to tear them apart and undermine the mission. Caught between cynical secret police and a brutal crime syndicate, the fate of them all will be determined by a trafficked girl – but not every one will make it home. The Migrant is a tense and evocative thriller with a powerful redemptive twist.
When did you start writing, and why?
I began writing poetry as a relief from my Business Studies degree in the 1980s. It helped me get a lot of feelings off my chest. Things really began to flourish, though, after I took a course with the London School of Journalism in Freelance Journalism. Then I relished the freedom of pursuing the subjects and people who interested me – drawing out what they had to say about their life and work. I very much enjoyed formulating a range of questions, giving people space to talk, and then eking out the gems of their experience for others to appreciate.
What motivates you to write?
There’s a lot of satisfaction in taking the essence of my own life experience and telling others about it, and knowing that through the medium of fiction, which I’ve been focusing on recently, I have the reader’s company with me in that, albeit for a brief period of time, as they follow the narrative.
What do you like to do to relax when not writing?
I enjoy travelling around Albania, North Macedonia and Greece. I like skiing in these locations in the winter too, and listening to pop, jazz and folk music.
Tell us about your latest book.
‘The Migrant’ is a story about someone, a pastor, who takes on the responsibility to care enough for another person in his village, a young man called Alban, such that he is ready to go the extra kilometre, over 500 of them in fact, to the Greek capital of Athens to see if he is safe. He arrives in Athens as the dangers all around Alban are building – violent anti-austerity riots, the rise of far right political groups and racist attacks, the clutches of a trafficking gang, a cynical police operation – and then races against time to reach him.
Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
Some of them from ‘The Migrant’ would be ‘Che’ Chaconas the anarchist, Granit Korabi the criminal gang member, Stavros ‘The Big Man’, a far right thug, and Donis Xenakis, a member of the Greek riot police. They each have something amusing, interesting or colourful about them, even though they are characters at the darker end of the spectrum. But the protagonist, Jude, the pastor who takes on the search for Alban, has more of my personal empathy.
Anything else you want to share?
I hope readers of ‘The Migrant’ might be transported into another time and place and feel well entertained, and that they might become more aware of the lives of others caught up in similar circumstances among the migrations of our time. I also hope they might take inspiration to go those extra kilometres for someone when they may be the only person who can turn their situation around.
Paul Alkazraji worked as a freelance journalist in the UK from the mid-nineties. His articles were published broadly including in Scotland on Sunday and The Independent. He has published five books including his latest ‘The Migrant’, a thriller set in Albania and Greece, with Instant Apostle. A Brit working overseas, he has lived in the south of Albania for 18 years.
Author Profile: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Muthena-Paul-Alkazraji/e/B0034OJYLK/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5655990.Paul_Alkazraji
Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/paul_alkazraji
Thanks to Paul Alkazraji and Reading between the lines for including me in this blog tour. Paul – hope everything goes well with the book.