Today's 5 Q&A is with Aram Schefrin, author of Marwan: The Autobiography of a 9/11 Terrorist
1.) Who are you?
I'm the author of four novels. After studying with Stephen Sondheim and Carlos Montoya, I co-founded and was the lyricist and guitarist for the jazz/rock group Ten Wheel Drive, which had its standing ovations in the late '60's and early seventies. After five years on the road, I retired to the studio where I produced several early disco hits. A graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School, I returned to the practice of law in 1977. I now practice in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Florida, and live in Wellington, Florida with my wife, two dogs, four cats and three polo ponies. You can learn about me at aramschefrin.com. Right now, I'm writing an opera.
2.) Why did you write this book?
After 9/11, I realized that I knew nothing of the people who had attacked us, or the reasons why they had done it. I did some general reading for research on Islam. On the internet I read the coverage in the Florida papers, because much of the plot took place in Florida. I went to the places the hijackers had stayed. And after all that, I came to two conclusions: first, the plot of the pre 9/11 events, and the characters involved in it, made for really engrossing fiction; and second, Americans don't really understand what happened to us, and why, and I think it's critical that we do understand, to prepare for what may yet be coming and to do what we can to prevent it. We must understand the enemy to protect ourselves, and that particularly includes understanding what drove them personally - their frustrations, their humiliations, their unmet needs, etc. Because it wasn't just their religion that drove them to do what they did.
3.) Have you had any negative feedback due to its subject matter?
You bet. When I circulated the book in 2003, New York publishing houses considered it insulting and outrageous to present a book about 9/11 which was written (more or less) from the terrorists’ point of view – even though the book made no attempt to excuse their conduct.
4.) Have you been to Ground Zero, and if so, how did you feel while you were there? If not, do you intend to go?
No, I haven't and I don't intend to. Frankly, I don't think it's helpful to mythologize 9/11. It keeps us from comprehending what it was about.
5.) What's next?
I have a new book coming out in April. It's called "The Tenth Cow," it's on religious themes, and you can find out all about it at www.tenthcow.com.
Thank you so much, Aram.