Sunday, April 21, 2024

Interview with Author David Thomspon


1. What inspired you to write this book? I never before thought about writing a book. This is an area completely new to me, but I felt inspired and almost compelled to record this chance encounter with a former bodyguard of Malcolm X. It was not planned. It can out of this encounter. I felt strongly that there was something to be shared with the general public that pertained to this American icon, but that was also linked to the Sufi Order to which I belong.  

2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for? It is about this chance meeting with the last surviving member of Malcolm X's entourage of bodyguards. The photo I saw of him walking in Harlem had about 10 of them. Hence the title The Tenth Lieutenant. The book is about the Malcolm that is mostly ignored, but the Malcolm whose Islamic ideology had moved away from the ideology of the Nation of Islam (NOI) to more traditional Islamic teachings. This redirection placed Malcolm at a crossroads that may have been equally troublesome. He had had exposure to Islam as observed in Mecca, Egypt, and Sudan, among other Islamic experiences, and he was assigned a seasoned Islamic teacher from Mecca. Had he lived, he would have had to make a choice between this teacher's Islamic ideology or the Sufi influences he had also encountered. The book tries to argue that the bodyguard, Malcolm, and his protege, Minister Farrakhan, all seem to have been set on Islamic trajectories converging with Sufism. This required that the book discuss some history of 'Islam' in the NOI, of Islam in America from its early beginnings, Islamic influences in British colonial history, and to present some basic information about the Sufi way as I had learned as a member of the Burhani Sufi Order in America. It was a way to introduce Sufism to the American audience who may be unaware of this tried and tested method for character reformation. As such, it is written for the widest possible audience.  

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book? Readers should realize that Malcolm X had abandoned his radical racial pronouncements and had moved to the center while at the same time maintaining his commitment to addressing the human rights issues of black in America and elsewhere. Readers should also realize that there is a tried and tested methodology for elevating human character to claim the spiritual status with which Allah (God) honored our father, Adam. It is my hope that this book would pique the reader's interest to investigate Sufism further - in particular The Burhani Sufi Order.  

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? The title came from one of the photos of Malcolm X I researched showing him walking to a 1963 rally in Harlem. He was leading his entourage of immaculately dressed lieutenants to the venue. I counted ten and that gave me the idea for the title since the lieutenant I encountered is most likely the last alive. I thought of calling it The Last Lieutenant, but settled on the Tenth Lieutenant which seemed more appealing. As for the cover design, at first I was leaning towards the photo with Malcolm and his ten lieutenants walking in Harlem. Having to include discussion of the possible movement of the NOI under Minister Farrakhan towards traditional Islam and towards Sufism itself, I felt that the photo with both Malcolm and Farrakhan would have been the most appropriate. Also, I included the last photo taken of Malcolm alive on the back cover in addition to the photo selected for the front cover to represent 'bookends' of the content that focused on the early bombastic and the later serene tolerant Sufi-leaning Malcolm    

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!? This experience has been an eye-opener into the world of book publication. I had limited funds and therefore had to learn all aspects. I designed the cover; I had to learn basic Adobe Illustrator to do so; I had to learn formatting for e-books and print books; I had to file copyright documentation and assign ISBN numbers to each format. It was a great learning experience which I would advise others could save you a lot. There are publication packages that range from around $2000 to $15,000. I didn't have the funds for the lowest level so I had to learn every aspect of the process. While I can speak with authority on the outcomes associated with package purchases, I would recommend self-publishing because you have full control of content etc. I would also have to warn new writers about the sharks in the knock-off waters. My attention was drawn to the fact that my book was being advertised and sold on both e-bay and Amazon without my permission. As a result, I had to learn about take-down notices as well.  

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? The Tenth Lieutenant took me three year to finish. I followed some leads and some friends provided information that developed into leads. So, it was always a product in the making. With AI applied to the same task, much relevant research could have been completed, cover designed, content generated, and relevant videos incorporated in a fraction of the time. Already there are authors using AI to transform their ideas into book format in an instance. This has the potential to both kill creativity and enhance it... it depends on the motivation of the writer and the content. In terms of publishing, the industry is already heading towards self-publishing which would benefit from AI technology. AI could be no more than an aide in my subject area of interest - Sufism.  

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? Certainly. I referenced my answer to an undergraduate honors professor who asked what differentiates man from animal. I gave the answer then that was good and accepted, but which I would be forced to revise since my years as a disciple of the Burhani Sufi Order. I mentioned my first encounter with the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque in Harlem during a real estate venture in which I got involved. And most certainly, my upbringing as a Christian gave me valuable insight into discussion about the Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Churches.   

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? This question is difficult to answer. Malcolm X was an avid reader. I, on the other hand, am not. I think my fear of reading as a child and teenager had some bearing on this. I was not a good reader and it affected my confidence and social interaction in a household of siblings who loved reading. Still, I think I write better than I speak. If there are other writers who can claim the same, I suppose my writing would be like theirs. Additionally, my life is always full of activity, even in retirement, so much so that I don't seem to have enough time to read my daily Sufi readings.  

9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book? I learned enough to start a new career. I am a retired high school science teacher. I never guessed that I would be so deeply involved in the publishing world as to start a new career with a website, fledgling as it is, for book publication. I also had to learn to admin a site on an ecommerce platform. Of all the challenges, I found learning Adobe Illustrator and designing my own cover, and the covers of other books I am writing, the most rewarding.  

10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?  As mentioned in The Tenth Lieutenant, after I introduced Malcolm's sole surviving lieutenant to Sufism, he said he was interested in anything uplifting. That is the main thrust of my book. It points to something uplifting. At a time when moral decay is at its highest and when the daily mass shootings flood the news, people need to know that there is a trusted methodology for refining human character. That methodology is the cure-all for the multitude of social ills developed over centuries of spiritually rudderless misguidance humanity has had to face. AI may take it to the tipping point. Immediate action is needed to stem the tide and to help humanity revert to our real strength - our spirituality. The only way is to be informed of the character-building process used by the prophets and their inheritors, and to spring into immediate action to reclaim our spiritual birthright. This book attempts to point the way. The need is critical, the information included here vital to the process, and the time is now or never. 

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Brian Feinblum should be followed on This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2024. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.8 million pageviews. With 4,900+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and director of publicity positions at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America several years ago, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, Morgan James Publishing, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. His first published book was The Florida homeowner, Condo, & Co-Op Association Handbook.  It was featured in The Sun Sentinel and Mia

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