The Story Behind “72 Virgins” by Avi Perry


72 virginsMany Americans do not understand the reasons and purpose of Islamic terrorism. People on the left side of the political spectrum blame the US foreign policy for the insane violence and the eruption of the volcano that breads that kind of hate movement. They are wrong. They simply need to examine the facts. Most Suicide bombings take place in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries, where the majority of the victims are innocent accidental out-of-luck Muslim bystanders. There are many non-fiction books written about the violent nature of Islam. But, for me, Robert Spenser’s books: the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, and The Truth About Islam, have been the ones that triggered the spark for the idea of writing a novel, an action/thriller, which would attract and educate a different segment of the population, a segment whose main focus is entertainment rather than education, whose learning and enlightenment would be achieved indirectly.

As a university professor, at Northwestern University, and as a Vice President in NMS Communications, I always looked for ways to coach and educate—my students, my direct reports, my customers and colleagues. I discovered that winning an argument, gaining attention, and convincing, may, sometimes, be difficult, since my views may be considered tainted by my background and upbringing. However, when these opinions and counter arguments are delivered by fictional characters, they wear uniform of a different color. Arguments can be more extreme, more outrageous, less politically correct, and if I can add a bit of sarcasm and humor they may stick. For example. In my book — 72 Virgins — one of my favorite FBI characters tells a fellow he interrogates in response to the statement: “As far as I know, being a Muslim is not a crime in this country.” The response: “Unfortunately, ninety nine percent of Muslims give a bad name to the rest…” Of course, this comment is a vast exaggeration, pushing an argument to the brink of incredible BS. I would never say it to an audience, and I don’t believe it’s true, but it does make a point; it makes people listen, think, remember, and maybe—crack a smile.

For my first book – Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks — I got the attention of a literary agent via a book query. After establishing a contact with Cambridge University Press, my agent asked me to send my proposal to the publisher. The publisher forwarded my proposal to several referees. They all came back with very positive feedback—the book contract followed, and twenty months later I became a published author for the first time.

For my second book I picked a completely different path. Cambridge University Press does not publish Fiction. I could not go back and offer them the manuscript for 72 Virgins. I tried attracting agents with book queries, but out of the one hundred I tried touching, only one third bothered to respond, telling me “how sorry they were, but…” I started looking into self publishing when I met my current publisher at a party of a mutual friend. I was able to grab his interest and his pocket. He liked the manuscript, and one year later—here I am, a published author for the second time.

If you are not (yet) a best selling author, an established expert, or a known celebrity, you are going to be ignored or face rejections. If you had written or about to write a non-fiction book, you will not get attention unless you have already established yourself as an authority in that particular subject or field. If you had written a novel, you should let a Simon-Cowell-type person read it before you set your eyes on getting it published. If your manuscript is of high quality, and Simon approves, then you may try Self Publishing, but only if you have the budget to carry the endeavor all the way through. That journey does not end with the printing of the book; it includes professional editing, cover design, typesetting, and above all—marketing. Without a reasonable marketing budget, your book will get lost in the decimal dust. No one will know about it, except your close family and friends. It may be the greatest masterpiece of the century, but it will remain anonymous, lonely and cold. However, if you don’t care about sales, then forget about the marketing, take it out of your budget and don’t bother. Still, you wouldn’t want your friends and family to say things, and smirk behind your back, so you must ensure quality even if you merely get it published as a medal for your undersized ego.

2943714Avi Perry  grew up in Israel. As a teenager and throughout his college years, he was a professional musician. He financed his student life with numerous gigs, playing with his Israeli band, writing songs, playing the various keyboard instruments, and enjoying listening to his performances on the Israeli radio (there was no MTV in late 60s Israel). He still plays and writes music, but as a hobby (at home), rather than as a line of work. During the Six-Day-War in 1967, he served in the Israeli military, in the field intelligence unit, and gained valuable and relevant experience in covert communications technology and a variety of spy craft and methods.

He has spent the past four decades in the US, first as a Ph.D. student, then as a professor at Northwestern University, a Bell Laboratories – distinguished staff member, and finally as Vice President at NMS Communications. He signed for early retirement in 2004 with the intention of writing a technical book. The title Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007 and became very popular. Readers praised the book for its thoroughness and for my refreshing, unique and entertaining writing style, atypical among technical writers. Throughout Avi’s tenure at NMS, he wrote many short (humor-packed, peppered with company culture) satires, technical reports, white papers (published on company website), press releases, and more.

One may find more information on his websites (www.aviperry.org and http://www.aviperry.com ).

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