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Sunday, February 26, 2017
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Journalist, Crime Fiction writer and screenwriter Tom Vater lives a life most of us only daydream about. It his been my pleasure to interview him.
- How did you come up with your book idea?
Vater: I co-wrote the screenplay to a documentary called The Most Secret Place on Earth (video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNwi90uUNDA), about the CIA’s covert war in Laos in the 1960s. I spent some years researching the film and once it was done and broadcast, I felt that I wanted to do something else with the material. The Man with the Golden Mind is the result.
- What are your publishing credits?
Vater: I have authored or co-authored some twenty plus books (non-fiction, fiction and guidebooks), several hundred articles, three screenplays that have been made into feature docs, and I have published 32 crime novels of other writers with Hans Kemp at Crime Wave Press.
- What are your plans for the future?
Vater: I will continue to do what I have been doing for the past 25 years – write about the subjects I love – Asia, politics, history, youth culture, counterculture.
- What is your day job?
Vater: I have been making a living from writing since 1998. I am currently a correspondent for a German travel publishing company in SE Asia and I freelance for many clients including at present The Daily Telegraph, The Nikkei Asian Review etc. I have written for The Times, The Guardian, Marie Claire, Penthouse, Geographical, The South China Morning Post, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Asia Wall Street Journal and many more publications. I write mostly in English and I am usually overworked. But I can’t make a living from just writing in any one industry. I earn my money from writing long feature stories, travel journalism, fiction, non-fiction books on history and culture, and screenplays.
- What is your preferred genre to write?
Vater: Crime fiction.
- How did you become a writer?
Vater: I studied publishing and literature but after graduating I pursued a brief and half-assed career playing in RocknRoll bands. After some years of touring round Europe I drifted to Asia - I was lucky to receive a modest British Library grant at the time to record and research traditional music in Asia which gave me focus and helped me discover that I had some talent putting words in a row.
I was living in a cheap guest house in Kathmandu in the mid 90s when I met a couple from Europe who had cycled to Nepal. They were trying to write about their experiences but their English was not great so I helped them edit their work. I accompanied them to the local newspaper where they sold their stories. I asked the editor, if I give you an interesting story, will you give me money?
He asked me what I was thinking about. I told him I could write about Nepali music. He said ok. A month later I was back with text and photos and the editor gave me a double spread in the weekend edition. And some money. I never looked back. Six months after that I was working for Rough Guides in Thailand and had started my first novel, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu.
- Are you a planner, complete with detailed outlines, or do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing?
Vater: Both when it comes to writing fiction. My first novel I write with lots of prep, the second started off the top of my head, but even on that project I did create detailed outlines, character studies, time lines etc at some point, because the text became too unwieldy to keep in mind all the time.
- What is the best writing advice that you have ever been given?
Vater: I have never had a writer-mentor. But I have read a lot about how other writers work, especially Graham Greene, Peter Matthiessen, William Burroughs, etc., etc. My editors, both at magazines/papers and publishing houses have helped me enormously over the years by tightening up my work and opening my mind to new possibilities.
- What advice would you give a new writer?
Vater: One becomes a writer over time, I suppose. Burroughs said, write a million words and then you are a writer. Fiction is a craft, like any craft, you need to work at it for years and go through endless repetitions and mistakes until you have something others want to read. Journalism is quite a different craft that I partly learned at college and partly from editors I worked with.
The publishing industry is in an awful state at present, partly because most books that are being promoted in a meaningful way are published by one of the five big publishing conglomerates who expect instant sales and are risk averse, and smaller imprints who either sell out or die, and partly because Amazon has such a terrible monopoly on ebooks and books in general.
But I would leave all that to one side. I certainly didn’t care when I started writing. Do something creative with your life. Don’t work for a boss in an office all your life. Don’t fall into consumerist trappings. Don’t get a mortgage if it means having to earn money day and night to make payments. Stay free enough so you have time to write. Once you have to make time, it all gets very difficult. Contribute something to the community. Don’t expect to be financially secure. If that is a priority for you, do something else. Oh, and it’s a pretty solitary activity.
- What other projects do you have in the works at the moment?
Vater: I am just finishing a series of articles creating a history of India seen through the prism of tattoos with writer Laure Siegel for a French magazine. I also am involved in http://thedevilsroad.com/, a photo-blog that published a photo a day to keep the fuckers at bay.
- What surprises can we expect from you in the future?
Vater: Survival, revolution.
- If you could journey into any of your books, interacting with the characters, which would it be and why?
Vater: I have lived so much of what is in my books, both the three published crime novels and some of my non-fiction titles. As I mentioned, I spent a long time researching the CIA in Laos. I travelled to America to talk to former agents, pilots, rebel proxies and whistleblowers. I travelled around SE Asia to talk to other players in the covert war.
I spent a year in the sacred tattoo scene in Thailand to be able to co-author Sacred Skin –Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos (www.sacredskinthailand.com), which remains my non-fiction bestseller to date.
My first novel The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu was about the 70s hippy trail between London and South Asia. I spent a lot of time with people who did that journey at the time and I also travelled from Asia to Europe overland in 1998. Especially at the beginning of my fiction career, I was very careful to draw as much as possible on real life experiences. Strangely that has not made my fiction necessarily more believable.
I have been on the road for more than twenty years. I live in hotels for months every year, researching books and stories, doing editorial assignments. My work as a journalist, fiction writer and publisher in South and Southeast Asia has opened countless doors that I stepped through to get a story. So the journey and the writing have been and are inseparable.
- What public appearances do you have planned in the future?
Vater: I do readings and literary festivals from time to time, but right now I am working on new material. Here’s a recent radio show, Noir on the Radio (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheair/2017/01/15/crime-fiction-author-tom-vater-on-noir-on-the-radio).
- Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans?
Vater: Keep reading books, switch off your phones, do your own thing. The deck is stacked against you, but to my mind a life well lived and reflected upon, if you are privileged or determined enough to pull it off, is what it is all about.
Thank you very much for your interest in my work and for having me on your blog, Liz.
And here is the link for Crime Wave Press: http://www.crimewavepress.com/
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Since they were 10, Robin and Stacy have had unsettling memories as if overhearing horror stories. The priest at the Catholic school they attend only has one answer: to say five Hail Marys. As they enter their teen years, they pass for normal, but have to clamp down on the nightmares and only share their disturbing glimmers of trauma between them in private. A medium who lives next door to their sorority house nearly outs them as having past lives in the Nazi Holocaust. Australian Stacy finds another listening ear in her husband Bob, an American Vietnam Veteran. Robin's night terrors cost her a marriage that lasted less than a year. Both attend hypnotherapy sessions to find the reason why their dreams start out so nicely and end horribly.
Publisher and writing mentor Ocean Reeve interviewed Liz Meegan. Here is the link:
Find Recycled Prisoners on Amazon Kindle:
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Over forty men tell their stories. Reaching deep into the ‘man cave’ we find a combination of humorous, abrasive, personal, intimate and confronting stories that these men have shared. They are “dying to be heard”…literally. There are men in this world hurting, some are anxious, depressed and some, even suiciding. Many of these topics are still considered too taboo to openly discuss, yet in the meantime men continue to suffer in silence. Let their voices reach you, their stories be told, and let them no longer be dying to be heard.“MENDEMIC”, is a compilation of short stories about true life events of 40 real gutsy and brave boys and men.
It’s all about giving men a voice, showing that it’s OK to “OPEN UP', not 'SHUT UP', what it’s like in the “Man Cave” and is also about promoting men’s health. It was released to coincide with a date especially dedicated to men – Movember and International Men's Day. Cindy is a freelance author, speaker, and blogger from Melbourne, Australia.
Check out this link to find about more Cindy Rochstein and her other books:
Saturday, February 4, 2017
When someone cleans up after murders, suicides, bombings and other scenes of horror day after day, it's bound to make a deep impression. Donna Nayler has lived it and has written about it.
Here is an excerpt from the 1st chapter, Crime Scene Cleaner:
Everybody has a story. This is mine. What makes me think my story is worth telling? I speak for the dead, and for what the dead have left behind. When we are young, our teachers and parents ask the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” ‘Crime scene cleaner’ isn’t the usual answer.
I grew up amid the sparkling lights of Australia’s Gold Coast, and my friends were all in sales or hairdressing, girls stuck in girly jobs. A bit of a rebel, I skipped school regularly until I convinced my parents I had made my decision in life. I was going to live in society and earn a wage rather than attend my final year of schooling.
My euphoric rush of instant adulthood was short lived. I was told to get a job and get used to the real world. I’m still trying to get used to the real world. I began hairdressing at seventeen, but by the age of twentyfive, I was tired of pretending I cared about what was going on in my clients’ lives, tired of their first-world problems. Venting to the unlucky hairdresser must be cheaper than going to a shrink.
I’d always been intrigued and fascinated by death services, eager to delve into the darkness, while at the same time it freaked 2 Bloodstains and Ball Gowns: Life As a Crime Scene Cleaner me out. I’ve always believed in the supernatural and wondered what happens after your heart stops ticking. What is left in the silent moments after the grim reaper has come and gone?
This is not the kind of book you read every day. Compelling, isn't it?
For details,check out this website: http://www.donnanayler.com/
Don't miss this interview! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjvGJ8pDsq0