Two years ago I participated in a kind of collective blog tour together with other Italian independent authors, entitled “Questions searching for an author”, where the host asked a question to his guests about their respective book.
Mine was: “What is, in your opinion, the most original character of your book (or series) that somehow enhances it? Describe it.”
Now that I am going to publish the final book of “Red Desert” in English, I propose to you my own answer to this question.
In fact, Anna Persson, the protagonist, is perhaps the most original character of “Red Desert” but one of the elements of the story that makes its peculiarities stand out even more is her conflict, for better or for worse, with the character of Hassan Qabbani. So, having to choose a character that enhances the story, he is undoubtedly the most appropriate. Also, I do not hide that he is also my favourite character, which is evident from the fact that he is without doubt the one who has the best lines of dialogue, most often used to interact with Anna.
Hassan is Canadian, but clearly of Middle Eastern origin, although it is more evident from his name than from his appearance. It isn’t specified which country he comes from, it doesn’t matter, we only know that it is one where people speak Arabic. He is a former serviceperson and physician. He studied medicine during his period of service in the army. He also has a pilot’s license. After leaving the army he entered the Canadian Space Agency and through it he landed at NASA during the recruitment for the Isis space program, whose aim is the colonization of Mars.
After five years of training he was assigned to the Isis 2 mission, of which he would the commander, but was also included in the backup crew for the previous mission. Following the opting-out of the mission Isis surgeon, Dai Liang, at the last moment Hassan took his place. Therefore he found himself going to Mars with Anna Persson, Dennis and Michelle Francis, and Robert Green.
At the beginning of the story, in “Red Desert - Point of No return”, Hassan is presented exclusively from the point of view of Anna. But the first episode is not the real beginning of the story, it is instead located, by a chronological point of view, almost in the middle of it. We only know that Anna has a bad opinion of him, but also that she has an aversion to men of Middle Eastern origin. Clearly, there’s more that would explain the hatred that she claims to feel for Hassan.
What has really happened?
This is partly shown in “Red Desert - People of Mars”, but much more will come to light in the final book “Red Desert - Back Home”.
But already in “Red Desert - Invisible Enemy” we have got to understand a little more about this character.
Hassan is not an easy person to handle, he is one of those characters that you love or hate. He hardly inspires indifference. He is a proud man, very sensible and respectful of rules (as you would expect from a former serviceperson) and also very discreet, which makes him mysterious and potentially dangerous, since it is difficult to understand his intentions. Gifted with a certain irony and above all a natural sarcasm, he is a manipulator and uses this ability to get what he wants. But he doesn’t love to be manipulated and is very vindictive. He knows Anna is scared of him and in “People of Mars“ he doesn’t hesitate to use this power to carry out his revenge against her.
What we do not know, however, is what happened in the past. What gave rise to the cold war between Anna and Hassan in the thousand-day stay on Mars?
In “Invisible Enemy“ Hassan finally shows us for what he is, but it is only in “Back Home” that we’ll learn all his secrets and discover his true weakness, the only one able to question all his beliefs and to spur him to unexpected actions.
But perhaps you already imagine what it is.
“Red Desert - Back Home” will be soon available for pre-order on Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Noble, and then on Google Play, Nook UK, Scribd, Oyster, and other retailers on 31 July 2015.