MISSOULA — Spokane, Wash., writer Sherry Jones said Monday she's taking no particular precautions, despite the weekend firebombing of her British publisher's home and office.
Jones, author of a novel to be released this month about the Prophet Muhammad's youngest wife, said she'd spoken to a local FBI agent who told her "there had been no indications of any threats or that anyone is out to get me. Until I have any evidence to the contrary, I'm living my life as usual."
She did, however, say she'd written to a Texas professor and asked her to withdraw her description of her book as "soft-core pornography."
Jones, a former Independent Record and Missoulian reporter, wrote "The Jewel of Medina," about the Prophet's marriage to A'isha, the youngest of his 12 wives and concubines.
In August, it was announced that the book's original publisher, Random House, was backing out because of fears its publication would spark the sort of deadly violence that accompanied Salman Rushdie's 1988 novel, "The Satanic Verses," or the 2005 Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
Earlier this month, Britain's Gibson Square announced it would publish Jones' book, as did Beauport books in the United States, which issued O.J. Simpson's once-rejected "If I Did It."
On Monday, Beauport closed its offices as a "precautionary action," but emphasized that no threats had been received and that "The Jewel of Medina"would be released as planned on Oct. 15.
Eric Champion, president of Beauport Books, said he and others "were out of the office for a meeting today, and we felt it was unfair for the employees to be back there without management."
Champion said he has discussed possible security arrangements with the FBI and New York City police, but added that nothing was planned and that there were no immediate worries about safety.
The weekend fire in London took place at the home and office of Gibson Square's Martin Rynja. London police said they arrested three men Saturday on suspicion of terror links after the incident.
Jones said she got a telephone call about the incident as she was moving into a new home this weekend.
"I was shocked and stunned, especially since my book has not been published," she said. "I had expected controversy once the book came out; however, I also thought that all the controversy that's been brewing around it would die down once people could read it for themselves and see how respectfully my book deals with Islam and the Prophet Muhammad."
The controversy over the book started when Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin, urged Random House to yank the book before it went into stores. Spellberg called it "a very ugly, stupid piece of work," in addition to her characterization of it as pornographic.
"I've asked her to retract the word ‘pornography,' because, for example, in Serbia, the grand mufti who protested did it on the basis that my book contained themes of brutal pornography, which is totally not true and told me he had not read it. ... That word came from Denise Spellberg. It didn't come from anybody else," Jones said.
The novel describes the consummation of the Prophet Muhammad's and A'isha's marriage.
As of Monday afternoon, the book was No. 204 on Amazon.com.
Barnes & Noble Inc. and Borders Group Inc. will both stock the book in stores, according to spokeswomen for the superstore chains.
Jones will hold her first public reading from "The Jewel of Medina" Oct. 10 in Spokane.
She'll also discuss her experience Saturday, Oct. 25, as part of a panel on censorship during Missoula's Festival of the Book.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.