Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest today, Adnan Alisic author of Arizona Dream: A True Story of a Real-life "Ocean's Eleven"
terrible war atrocities, Adnan escaped from Bosnia and came to
Phoenix, Arizona where he became a successful businessman. Entangled
in a gambling addiction, he was forced to execute this sensational
casino heist. He is currently serving seventeen-and-a-half years in a
Norm: Good day Adnan and thanks for participating in our interview.
Adnan: Great privilege to be here.
Norm: What motivated you to write Arizona Dream and could you tell our audience a little about the book and your sensational failed casino heist?
Adnan: After losing my freedom, I dropped to the bottom of existence where I was forgotten by most of the people close to me, and that's when I started writing.
At first there were letters; the letters that were
never meant to be sent; and then after couple of months I decided to
tell the whole story.
In the beginning I wrote for myself -- I could
have never imagined myself letting somebody else read my most
intimate thoughts -- but later I realized that I have to share this
with the rest of the world. So, I wrote about my gambling addiction
and my struggle to keep everything normal, while hundreds of battles
raged inside of me.
Then after casino security kicked me out for no reason, I planned my personal vengeance. After discovering the tunnel close by, a wild idea exploded in my mind. An idea for the heist you see in Hollywood movies. On top of the main story, there's a parallel story where I retrospected during my time in Bosnia where I described the horrors of mass murders and ethnic cleansing.
Norm: What is it like to be incarcerated in a
Federal Prison and how are you being treated, particularly that you
have just published a book?
Adnan: In this place every day is about the same, and I'm spending those days trying to improve myself in all aspects of my life -- physically mentally and most importantly spiritually. I stick to my routine, keep to myself, and that keeps me out of trouble.
As for being a writer in a prison, it's hard to accomplish anything. The only tools I have right now are pen and paper. If it wasn't for my sister, who helps me out tremendously, none of this would ever be possible, including this interview.
Norm: What purpose do you believe your story serves
and what matters to you about the story?
Adnan: First, I wanted to convey a very personal message that gambling is bad. Most of us know that God prohibited gambling in the Quran and the Bible; we heard about people who lost their jobs, families, or freedom because of it. But it's different when you hear or read about it, and when your personally experience it.
In the US there're over 15
million people with gambling problem, and all of them, including
their families, can benefit from my book. And second, I wanted to
remind my readers that all of us have skeletons in our closet and
it's okay to let them out.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Adnan: It was letting those skeletons out. Each time I wrote and rewrote about my past, I heard the screams and gunshots; I saw corpses and blood; I smelled the stench of death and horror.
Norm: What was the time-line between the time you
decided to write your book and publication? What were the major
events along the way?
Adnan: It took me about 5 years to get the book published. I could have done it sooner, but there were many obstacles.
First, as I said earlier, I couldn't use the
computer to type. When I was using the typewriter to type it, I was
sent to the hole since typewriters are only available for legal work.
After I was let out of the hole, one year of writing was missing.
Then it took me some time to gather my motivation and start writing
from scratch. And now, my only tools here are pen and paper. There's
no spell check, grammar check, or any of those gadgets. But in
the end, the whole process made me a better writer.
Norm: What has been the best part about being published?
Adnan: Since the book came out, I reconnected with many old friends from whom I get tremendous support. Even people whom I never met are reaching out.
Norm: Did you read any special books on how to
Adnan: I read every book about writing that our prison library had, and then I read all the books I had requested from the outside public library. I started with the books about writing, then publishing, and at the end, marketing and publicity. On top of that, I am subscriber to Writer's Digest, Writer, and Poets and Writers, where I get many useful tips.
Norm: What is next for Adnan Alisic?
Adnan: I just finished the first book in a young adult trilogy, titled Unforgiving, which I had started in November of 2012. It's a high-concept story inspired by that little boy who was murdered by the Serb soldiers. In real like he was killed; but in my fiction he managed to escape and survive in that forest.
After almost 4 years of living in the wilderness, he was found by an American diplomat, who adopted him and brought him to United States, where he struggled to adapt to a civilized life. But after finally learning to control his rage, he sees a monster who butchered his family. And that's how I start the book: in the opening chapter, the boy finds and kills those people in the most ruthless manner.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one
question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your
Adnan: Well, before my incarceration, if anyone asked me if I would ever write a book, I would have tell them, Not in a hundred years. But God works in a mysterious way, and I was thrown in a place where I used my abundance of time to create something positive, and the first in line of many books to come is Arizona Dream.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of
your future endeavors.
Adnan: Thank you and it was a great privilege to be here.