SPOKANE -- The Spokane author of "The Jewel of Medina", a fictionalized account of the the Prophet Mohammed's child bride sat down Wednesday and discussed her motivations for writing the controversial novel.
"The Jewel of Medina" found itself embroiled in controversy before it hit book stores earlier this week, the likes of which hasn't been seen since the publishing of "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie nearly two decades ago.
Some critics have panned the book, with one likening it to softcore pornography while Muslims have warned of extremist attacks.
Medina's author is freelance journalist Sherry Jones, who moved to Spokane from Montana a year ago. She spent six years researching "The Jewel of Medina", a 341-page novel in which she chronicles the life of the Prophet Mohammed's child bride Aisha bint Abu Bakr.
"I felt moved to write it, some might dispute my right to do so. I'm not Arabic, I'm not Muslim, but I am a woman. I have a woman's heart, and I'm inspired by Aisha," she said.
Jones' curiosity peaked after the September 11th attacks and after hearing about women's lives in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
"I was inspired by her story and I really wanted to learn more, and the more I read about Aisha and Muhammed, and about the origins of Islam and all the other characters, the more fascinated I became," Jones said.
Writing the book has proved controversial. "Medina" was dropped by publisher Random House after Denise Spellberg, who teaches Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, called the book pornography.
"I don't have to spend anymore time defending these allegations, the book can speak for itself," Jones said.
Her book was later picked up for publishing by Gibson Square in Great Britain. Last month three Muslim men firebombed the publisher's London office for agreeing to sign Jones and publish her book.
Concerns about more backlash pushed the US release date to this week.
"The best thing for everyone would be for the book to be out, as soon as possible, what was happening there was an increased amount of furor over a book that no one had read," Jones said.
Jones says she hasn't received any threats on her life, just insults from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. She says she's also received some praise for her work as well. She says she'll take precautions when necessary but refuses to live in fear.
"I don't worry about how I'm going to die, or when, I try to focus on how I want to live my life," she said.
Jones has already penned a second novel, a sequel to "Medina" which focuses on Aisha's life after the death of Muhammed. She says it's scheduled to be released sometime next year.
Meanwhile she'll be doing a book signing this Friday night at Auntie's Bookstore in downtown Spokane.