Note: Joe O’Neill will be at Klindt’s Booksellers in The Dalles Saturday Oct. 19 from 2 to 5 p.m.
Take Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Adventures of Tintin, the Hardy Boys and some of the best early Robert A. Heinlein juveniles, mix well and set the result in Morocco in 1912, and you have the Red Hand Adventures, written by Joe O’Neill. He’s the founder of Waquis, a company with 200 employees in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, and headquarters in Hood River. He also has an unusual combination of interests, with a degree in International Business and a minor in creative writing.
So far, two of the books in the series have been published, Rebels of the Kasbah and Wrath of the Caid, and they are wonderfully imaginative adventures that engage both YA and adult readers. As book one opens, four children are kidnapped by various ruses and cruelly sold into slavery. Tariq, an orphan abducted off the streets of Tangier, Aseem, handed over by his impoverished father, Margaret Owen, an English girl kidnapped from her hotel, and Fez, the captured son of a tribal leader, find themselves part of a caravan traveling through bandit territory. Their destination is the kasbah (castle) of their new owner, Caid Ali Tamzali. Exposed to brutal treatment at the hand of Zahir, the head guard who shepherds them on their journey, the four children are forced to become friends in order to survive their ordeal.
And there’s no sophomore slump in the second book either. Instead, a touch of the supernatural is added in a way that makes the heroes more heroic, the villains more vile and the action more intense. At its end, the heroes are all embroiled in pretty nasty predicaments that will leave the reader of any age yearning for the next book in the series to find out What Happens Next.
Click the grey podcast bar below to hear our interview with Joe O’Neill.