The son of American missionaries, Richard Lewis was born in Indonesia and attended boarding school in Java. After attending college in the United States, he returned to Indonesia, where he lives with his wife and children.
He is the author of Monster's Proof, The Demon Queen and The Killing Sea. His latest forthcoming book is Bones of the Dark Moon, a contemporary novel exploring the massacres of 1965.
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BookBrowse Interviews Richard Lewis, author of The Flame Tree
What led you to write The Flame Tree?
There's two parts to this. One is the story idea itself, which plopped into my head in 1998 when I cut short a surf trip to Indonesia's outer islands because of riots in major cities. What if, I thought, an American boy became caught up in the riots? That was the seed for this particular novel.
Also, I'd gone to university in the States, and I'd long been aware of a general lack of awareness of Islam as a religion. I wanted to address some basics misconceptions that Americans, and in particular those of my own Christian evangelical background, had of Islam. The attacks of September 11 underscored, to me, the importance of this.
You do a great job of showing how the the Muslim and Christian religions are more similar than they are different and you also expose some of the weaknesses in both - to the point that I imagine that you've been criticized by both camps. What has been the reaction to The Flame Tree?
In the novel, I don't address geopolitical issues so much as I do the religious ones. Both Christianity and Islam have historically been proselytizing religions, and that proselytizing...
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