Thursday 8 November 2012

New from Crime Wave Press: Mindfulness And Murder and Dead Sea |
Mindfulness and Murder by Nick Wilgus
Published 17th Oct

When a homeless boy living at the youth shelter run by a Buddhist monastery turns up dead, the abbot recruits Father Ananda, a monk and former police officer, to find out why. He discovers that all is not well at this urban monastery in the heart of Bangkok. Together with his dogged assistant, an orphaned boy named Jak, Father Ananda uncovers a startling series of clues that eventually expose the motivation behind the crime and lead him to the murderers. "Mindfulness and Murder" is the first in the Father Ananda murder-mystery series.

An award-winning movie based on Mindfulness and Murder was released in 2011 by DeWarenne Pictures in Bangkok and nominated for Best Screenplay by the Thailand National Films Awards 2012.

Praise for the Father Ananda series:

"A gripping read peppered with fascinating insights into the day to day life of a Buddhist monk. Nick Wilgus's Mindfulness and Murder puts a new spin on an old genre." -- UNTAMED TRAVEL MAGAZINE

"Wilgus ... has a good fix on temple boys, the precepts of Buddhism, the jaundiced eye with which the populace regards the constulabary, the vendors, the weather, the air pollution." -- BANGKOK POST on Garden of Hell

"Nick Wilgus' first novel is great. May Buddha protect Father Ananda and send him many other exciting adventures." Livres Hebdo
Nick Wilgus lived and worked in Asia for many years. His "Father Ananda" books have been translated into French, German, Spanish and Italian. An award-winning movie based on the first book, Mindfulness and Murder, was released in 2011. He is currently the editor for a small newspaper in Mississippi. |
Dead Sea by Sam Lopez
Published 18th Sept

Down and out Luke and high-class Tara, linked intimately by a violent incident in London’s seedy King’s Cross, run away to the Philippines to escape their sordid pasts. But the tropics can be unkind to kids on the lam. On a remote island in the South China Sea they soon face more trouble than they can handle – with each other and the local criminal elements. Only a mysterious Englishman with a luxurious dive boat can spring them from their new predicament, with an offer of high seas adventure that has to be too good to be true. But Luke and Tara are in no position to refuse…
Sam Lopez is the pseudonym of two well-travelled writers based in Britain who, for reasons best known to themselves, prefer to remain anonymous.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Darragh McManus interview: Even Flow

Even Flow is Darragh McManus’ first crime novel; a second, The Polka Dot Girl, will be published on January 25, 2013. He’s also released the comic novel Cold! Steel! Justice!!! as an e-book, under the name Alexander O’Hara. As a journalist he’s written for several papers, including the Guardian, Sunday Times and Irish Independent, for over a decade.

Can you sum up Even Flow in no more than 25 words?

An action-packed, cinematic and provocative thriller, set in NYC, about the 3W Gang: vigilantes who are bringing the pain to misogynists and homophobes.

What's unique about it?

I think the vigilantes themselves make it unique, for a few reasons. First, they’re inspired by feminism and gay rights, not the usual anti-crime or “bring down the system” stuff (admirable as those are). Secondly, they’re doing it out of a point of principle. These aren’t people who’ve been personally hurt, or seek vengeance: they’re inspired by a sense of fairness and justice, no different to Civil Rights marchers etc. Third, they’re pretty cool! They blend irony, humour, sarcasm, pop culture, high-brow culture, politics, feminism, post-modernism – and a willingness to use violence – into a sort of “vigilantism as performance art”. I wanted them to be an alternative to the cliché of feminists as emasculated weirdoes, and gay rights activists as over-sensitive wimps. These guys are thoughtful and compassionate, but also brave and ruthless and ass-kicking. They’re sexy, witty, daring. Basically, they’re like the grunge/Generation X aesthetic made flesh – and made angry.

What are your expectations for the book?

To be honest, I haven’t got a clue what to expect. I’m long enough in the tooth to expect nothing…but hopeful/deluded enough to expect a lot. I think it’s the kind of book could either really strike a chord and sell very well, or totally tank. Don’t know if there’ll be a middle-ground. Either way, I expect some fairly strong reactions to its themes/contentions, both for and against. So, should make for interesting debate.

How important is talent?

It should be the only thing, really, but sadly it’s not; we don’t live in a meritocracy. I don’t mean it’s all cronyism and nepotism, but luck has an awfully big part to play in terms of success in this life. Why does one book catch fire and another not? Couldn’t tell you. For instance, in terms of crime fiction, Stieg Larsson (and with all due respect to the dead): poorish writer telling a sort-of diverting story that would make an alright afternoon TV drama. Whereas there are literally thousands of really well-written crime novels, telling great, fresh, inventive stories with skill and élan, and nobody’s ever going to read them.

Please provide a youtube link to a song you'd like to be the title track to the movie adaptation of your book.

Please sir, may I make it two? This for the opening credits, spliced with the opening scene: 

And this for the closing credits and (literally) title song: 

Who would you like to direct the film adaptation?

Ooh…I think Neil Jordan would make a good go of it. I think he’d “get” it, you know? Plus I really like his movies (although Ondine didn’t work for me at all). And he has form in vigilante material with The Brave One, which I thought was very underrated and quite powerful.

If you were able to co-write a novel with any author of your choosing, who would it be?

Don DeLillo, because the man is a god of writing, the greatest novelist I’ve ever read. Don’t think I’d be able to do any work, though! I’d just be pinching myself and gawping at him. “Holy shit, I’m sitting at a desk with Don DeLillo…”

What's the worst piece of craft advice you've heard?

I sent Cold! Steel! Justice!!!, a comic crime novel, to one genius of a literary agent, who referred me to another book on “the conventions of thriller writing”. I pointed out that, considering my book had a whole FIVE exclamation marks in the title and was about a deranged Irish-American mayor who planned to execute criminals on live TV, I would have thought it was fairly clear it was a spoof, and therefore not a “thriller” in any accepted sense. She didn’t reply. Depressingly, that’s a true story. I have the emails as proof.

What are you reading now?

My author copy of Even Flow – yes, I admit it, checking for typos; can’t help it, it’s the sub-editor in me. Also a collection of essays by Milan Kundera, an Ed McBain shortish novel as part of a set, and battling my way through One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn. Hard going, which is funny because I loved Gulag Archipelago – honestly – and flew through it.

What's the book you've recommended most to friends?

Probably Wild Palms by Bruce Wagner. Graphic novel from the early nineties. Oliver Stone made an apparently crappy TV series out of it – trying to cash in on the Twin Peaks phenomenon – but this book is fabulous. A menacing undertone bubbles throughout, a palpable sense of dread and panic. It’s a horribly vivid realisation of a hellish LA dream-world, which insists that life is always weirder and less comprehensible than we imagine.

Do you write outside of the crime genre? If not, would you like to?

I do, and I like to! As mentioned below, I’ve done a Young Adult book, currently out with an agent, and have ideas sketched for a possible sequel (or two!), plus three very different, standalone YA works. Also written some literary fiction – novel, short story collection – which were summarily rejected by the publishing world. Got a few nice comments, though. And I’ve had some stuff published in literary journals. At the moment actually I’m writing a Douglas Coupland-type book about a bunch of slackers in Cork city in the mid-90s. Nothing really happens, but it’s fun to watch it not happen.

What question would you most like to be asked in an interview? What's the answer to it?

“How does it feel to outsell Stephanie Meyer!” And I’d answer, in this magical dream-world, “Pretty goddamn fantastic, actually. JK Rowling – I’m coming for you…”

Do you have any other projects on the go?

Yes, another crime novel called Polka Dot Girl is being published in late January 2013. This is my spin on the Chandler-style noir mystery, with a unique twist: all the characters are female. I thought it would be interesting to take this macho environment, instantly recognisable to all of us, and make all the players women. So you have the iconic, almost stereotypical, noir characters – world-weary detective, self-destructive victim, femme fatale, psychotic killers, etc – and they’re women, every one. They act and talk like these characters always do – tenderly, violently, bitterly – but they’re women. There is an intriguing tension between the darkness and edge of noir, and the fact that the protagonists are female. Stylistically it’s probably more lyrical and reflective than hard-boiled. It is in part an homage to classic mystery fiction, but with its own aesthetic and distinctive voice. But it incorporates many of the elements of a classic noir: a shocking murder to open, a serpentine plot, unlikely coincidences, outlandish deeds and characters, a mystical-religious sub-plot, hints of a larger conspiracy. Chandler in lipstick and a dress!

I’ve also written a Young Adult urban fantasy novel, based on Irish mythology, which is currently with an agent. I will be ecstatically happy if she takes it on. I’ll say no more for now!

Monday 5 November 2012

Gary Carson interview: Hot Wire |
Can you sum up Hot Wire in no more than 25 words?
A female car thief steals the wrong car and finds herself the target of dark forces colliding over a sinister government conspiracy.
What's unique about it?
Hot Wire is a cross-genre suspense novel, a fusion of noir crime and political conspiracy thriller inspired by the mass paranoia and institutional corruption of 21st Century Amerika. A fast-moving and at times darkly comic story of hot cars, organized crime and black operations spiralling into chaos, the novel is narrated by one of the more unusual protagonists in crime fiction, the 19-year-old professional car thief, Emma Martin, aka "Little Bo Peep." An impulsive, scrawny little runt with glasses and a ponytail, Emma's worries about her job security lead her to jack the wrong car from the wrong people at just the wrong time, triggering a series of events that cascade to an explosive conclusion.
What are your expectations for the book?
Writing is a difficult racket to break into and I try to be as realistic about my chances as possible. Taking into account my own failings not only as a human being but as a writer, I figure that Hot Wire will probably be a huge commercial success and make me rich and famous. I expect the novel will be picked up by a major New York publisher and become a runaway bestseller translated into a dozen different languages. Like The Da Vinci Code, one of the masterpieces of modern literature, Hot Wire will be the focus of reading circles and book clubs around the world. Housewives will meet in their suburban living rooms to analyze the book and drool over my photograph on the back cover, and the novel will be optioned by HollyWeird after a frenzied bidding war that will drive the price into orbit. I will then purchase the last surviving Foo Fighter and retire to New Swabia in Antarctica where the lingerie model Kate Upton will tend to my basic physiological requirements.
What did you learn while writing it?
During the course of writing Hot Wire, I learned that 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, resulting in nearly eight years of content uploaded every day.
Do you bear the reader in mind while you're writing? If so, how does that affect the way you write?
Considering the fact that my only reader lives in the United States, I decided to write all of my books in English instead of my native language,  Gnomish. Also, since my reader is a member of the Church Of God With Signs And Wonders, a snake-handling cult in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I try to keep my language as clean as possible. If I'm compelled for artistic reasons to use particularly blasphemous or filthy words or phrases, I translate them into Spanish or Russian using Google. For example, instead of saying "Fuck a Jesus," a phrase I picked up from my bail bondsman, Charlie Brooker, I'll say mbwa instead. This baffles my reader and gives him the illusion that he's reading High Literature.
How important is talent?
Talent is over-rated and considering the quality of most of the dribble on sale in my local Barnes & Noble, completely unnecessary to the creative process. Writing is a craft like making a pipe bomb or using a Fleshlight and a writer has to master several basic skills that have diddly-squat to do with talent.
You have to be able to multitask, to work under pressure and ignore distractions. For example, a professional hack can write a three-way sex scene between two lesbian meter maids and an intelligent power drill while smoking a White Owl cigar and drinking a jug of Ripple wine with the Craig Ferguson show on TV and Ozric Tentacles blasting over the stereo, all with a headful of methylenedioxypyrovalerone.
To be productive, you have to know how to locate the browser icon on your computer and the snooze button on your radio-alarm clock, and you should have a basic knowledge of auto-erotica. And shoplifting skills are essential to be a successful writer. You should have enough knowledge of electronics to build your own EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) tag proximity deactivator and it's important to know that most people never pay any attention to anything that's going on around them. The best way to avoid capture is to deactivate those tags, then wheel your loaded shopping cart out the door like you own it.
Nobody will notice. Guaranteed.
What's the worst piece of craft advice you've heard?
Don't get me started on this. Most writing advice is worthless, especially the swill you get in college "writer's workshops" where a bunch of  iGeneration douche-bags sit around in a circle and criticize each other's work while the professor sits behind his desk, playing with himself. After all, if the douche-bags knew anything about writing, they wouldn't be taking a class to learn about writing, would they? And the gibberish found in most writing-craft books in your local book barn isn't much better.
There's so much bad advice floating around that it's hard to pick the worst, but "write what you know" has to be in the Top Ten. If everyone followed that piece of wisdom, we could eliminate most science fiction, murder mysteries, crime novels, thrillers, horror stories and historical fiction, just to name a few categories. All we'd have left would be books about writers drinking too much, arguing with their teenage children, going to work for insurance companies and sacrificing cheerleaders to Cthulhu in the middle of the night.
"Write a draft, then give it to a friend who can review it and advise you." 
Mbwa. I don't know about you, but most of my friends are illiterate hillbillies who don't know jack about writing and don't even read. In fact, the only person I know who reads anything runs a small-town beauty salon and likes "Inspirational Romances." Once I mentioned to an old hippy friend that I was writing a novel and he said "Oh, you want to be the next Tom Robbins." The guy hadn't cracked a book since he read the Cliff Notes version of Even Cowgirls Get The Blues back in 1976.
There seem to be two schools of writing: "important" literary academic bilge that focuses on language and "irony," and commercial fiction written by actual writers who are trying to make a living. The literary crap is surrounded by a smog of platitudes about "muses" and "cultural significance" and "finding your inner voice" that reeks of motivational seminars and self-help manuals. For instance, I read one article that advised writers to "honor the miraculousness of the ordinary," whatever the hell that means. But the worst advice I've stumbled onto recently goes like this:
"Remember: writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others and pass it on."
In the real world, the writing business works like this:
Put these in order of importance: language, character, plot, money.


To what extent do you view writing as a business?

Writing is strictly a business as far as I'm concerned. My heroes are the old pulp writers who cranked out thousands of books under various pseudonyms at two cents a word in order to pay the rent. Guys like Erle Stanley Gardner, for instance. The ultimate hack, he dictated all of his Perry Mason novels on an ancient dictaphone while lying around on a couch at his ranch in Temecula, California. He produced dozens of paperbacks every year, employed a small army of secretaries to transcribe his stuff and was one of the most successful novelists in the world at one time. Now, that's what I call a business. Unfortunately, I have a hard time seeing myself as a business since businesses are supposed to make money. If this was 1930, I don't think I'd have this problem.

Saturday 3 November 2012

New from Dutton Guilt Edged: The Devil Doesn't Want Me and Noir(ish) |
The Devil Doesn't Want Me by Eric Beetner
Pubished 23rd October

A hit man with a crisis of conscience faces his biggest challenge yet: protecting an innocent victim against deadly forces during a desperate run for the coast in Eric Beetner's thrilling novel.

For the last seventeen years, Lars has been on a job for a prominent East Coast crime family. His task: kill Mitch the Snitch. Mitch is living in witness protection and has eluded Lars for almost two decades. But changes are afoot in the family back east, and a young gun named Trent has been sent to replace the aging gun for hire.

With his old boss gone, Lars realizes he has lost the desire to kill his long-time target. When things come to a head with Trent, Lars must go on the run with Mitch's teenage daughter Shaine, trying to stay one step ahead of angry and vengeful mobsters as well as his own dark past.

With Trent, FBI agents, and even more hired muscle on their trail, Lars and his new sidekick must stay one step ahead of their pursuers by any means necessary, creating a cross country trail of wreckage and mayhem from Albuquerque to L.A. |
Noir(ish) by Evan Guilford-Blake
Published September 18th

An entertaining foray into the dark world of film and fiction noir—with a detour into the realm of the fantastic—by Evan Guilford-Blake.

It’s Los Angeles. June, 1947. In the wake of mobster Bugsy Siegel’s violent murder, Private Investigator Robert Grahame is confronted with a case unlike anything he’s ever faced before. Lizabeth Duryea, a stunning yet peculiar young woman, hires Grahame to find her brother, Dan Scott, and leaves him with a small, mysterious package for safekeeping. But Grahame’s investigation becomes much more complicated when another mob big shot gets an anonymous tip that Grahame killed Siegel and hid the evidence in his office.

With the help of LAPD’s only female detective, Lauren Stanwyck, Grahame tries to discern the truth behind his mysterious client’s improbable story and find out who really killed Bugsy Siegel—haunted by his lost love at every step. As he stares into the face of his own cloudy past and the face of the fantastic, Grahame--in the classic noir tradition--is tempted by a femme fatale, followed by a shadowy figure, beaten up, accused of murder, and threatened. Ultimately, he uncovers a most unexpected plot, one which jeopardizes his way of life and puts him in mortal danger.

Thursday 25 October 2012

New releases: Hard Bite and Moondog Over The Mekong |

Published 25th October

"HARD BITE is outlandish in every way—a crazed noir excursion into an unprecedented heart of darkness. From the opening line on, it challenges and confronts, attacks and confounds. Violent and sometimes funny, always entertaining."
— T. Jefferson Parker, three-time Edgar Award winner, author of THE JAGUAR and THE BORDER LORDS

The hit-and-run driver took everything—his wife, child and legs. Now a paraplegic, Dean Drayhart unleashes payback on suspected hit-and-runners in Los Angeles with helper-monkey Sid as his deadly assistant. Dean's gentle, doting nurse knows nothing about what he's up to and when Sid tears out the throat of a Mexican Mafia member, Marcie gets kidnapped in order to force Dean's surrender. Armed with nothing but his wits, Sid, and a sympathetic streetwalker named Cinda, Dean manipulates drug-cartel carnales and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in a David-against-Goliath plot that twists and turns to a heart-pounding finale. |

Published 17th October

MOONDOVER OVER THE MEKONG: stories of guns, gambling, girls and general mayhem that redraw the borders of crime. This globe-spanning collection rockets you from dirt-road trailer parks to the slums of Bangkok, the gangster underbelly of Tokyo to a postapocalyptic Old West. There's girls on the run from Russian mobsters in the sex capital of Asia while a retiring crank cooker's ill-gotten fortune goes up for grabs on a Wyoming backroad. And a whole lot of territory in between. These ain't your typical crime stories.

"Spanning the slums from Thailand to Wyoming, Moondog embraces the plight of the downtrodden as it exposes an underworld seldom seen. These are the stories of the beaten-down and betrayed who have been pushed to the brink, the street urchins and mob underlings who claw and scrape and fight like hell when presented with a way out; and Merrigan captures these liminal moments with blinding lucidity, and in the process pulls off the nearly impossible: extracting hope from what was once hopeless." -- Joe Clifford, author of CHOICE CUTS and WAKE THE UNDERTAKER

"A dagger in the guts and a jaunt through the back alleys of Southeast Asia. Where else can you get both for $2.99?" -- Jake Needham, author of KILLING PLATO and other best-selling Asian crime novels.

Monday 22 October 2012

Ian Truman interview: Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair |

Ian Truman was born in Montreal, Quebec, in a French-Canadian family. His dad is a welder; his mom is an office clerk. How he ended up studying English and creative writing is still somewhat of a mystery. He still lives in Montreal with his spouse Mary and his daughter Kaori. Website:

Can you sum up Tales Of Lust, Hate And Despair in no more than 25 words?
It’s a realistic story about a group of underdogs who can’t seem to escape their situation. It’s gritty, sexy and violent. AKA, a hard-boiled novel.

What's unique about it?

I guess there are a few things that will set it apart from what we could call the “generic” mystery novel. The plot’s not linear, which, of course is nothing new to literature, but as far as I know, it is not something you see all that often in mystery. (Maybe I’m wrong.)

The second thing that makes it unique I guess is the tone. I am a huge fan of hardcore music, and if you know a little bit about it, then you know that it is not only heavy and straightforward, but also incredibly smart, with sharp lyrics. Of course there are a lot of horrible bands in hardcore, but those I like have been an inspiration to me. My style has been described as low key and raw. I like realist depictions, regardless of what I try to write. For example, the violent moments in Tales are not overdone, the protagonists are not super-heroes. You know? That one blow can leave you on the ground.

The third thing that is unique about it is the location. A lot of mystery novels take place in New-York, LA, Washington or London. I don’t know anything about these cities, so why would I write about them. Ottawa (our capital) would have been far too boring of a town to write about, so I figured, “Why not write about Montreal?” I know the city very intimately and I used this to great extent in the novel.

What have you done/are you doing to market it?

Everything I can.

I did a blog tour launch and worked the social networks as much as I could. The only problem was that the company I used to book the tour was mostly specialised in YA and romance. The work was very professional and the reviewers did take the time to give a proper review, but my novel is a heavy hard-boiled novel and I guess it was kind of an odd match.

Aside from that I am (still) building my social networks. I am from a working class family and we’ve had computers for as long as I can remember, but for the longest time, I believed that using Facebook and Twitter was the worst use of my free time imaginable. Things have changed nowadays. So I started my social networks from scratch and I am slowly building it up. I started a blog and try to do as many guest posts as I can. I also go to as many artistic and literary events as possible (book fairs, zine fests, theatre evenings, etc…) I printed a few paper copies of my novel to sell at these events. I don’t expect to make much money out of them, but I am still setting the foundation for my career so I’m not worried.

What are your expectations for the book?

Enough sales for a house on the lake, a downtown condo and enough money to finish all the tattoos I’ve ever wanted to have. What else would you expect?

Nah! Seriously. I really use the novel as a business card. Of course, sales and money would be nice (I like to eat as much as the next human) but for now I am really trying to get my name out there, maybe score a good publishing contract.

For a while, I felt like, “fuck agents and publishing houses,” but as I grow and as my knowledge of the industry is increasing, I figured that it’s not necessarily about agents or publishing house, but more about deals and contracts. If ever I get a deal that is to my advantage, I have learned from poverty that I sure as shit am going to take it. This is why I wanted Tales to look professional, so that people would take me and my work seriously.

What did you learn while writing it?

I have learned that I know so very little about the English language (I’m not kidding.) Seriously, I am from a French-Canadian family and I grew up in Montreal, so I grew up speaking English as much as anybody else in this city, but when I decided to write novels in English (actually, I write in both English and French but that is besides the point) it was a steep hill. I did the classes but I will be honest, I still need the help of good editors, so I tried to stay in touch with two persons from my writing classes at Concordia University. They agreed to be hired as editors for Tales which made the novel a much, much better novel. (Their names are Sarah Needles and Alex Manley).

Do you bear the reader in mind when you're writing? If so, how does that affect the way you write?

I’d like to think that I’m writing for the working and middle class. I don’t know if that has any implication in terms of the language I use. My English is by no means high-English (or even literary English I would say). I don’t mind a swear and a slur, that’s just how I speak. But as far as “how the reader affects the way I write,” I guess that I want to write something that the “proles” will either relate to or enjoy reading.

How important is talent?

I will refer prospective writers to a poem by Charles Bukowski, “So You Want to Be a Writer.”  

Basically, if it’s not in you, do something else. There are plenty of professions out there that will satisfy almost anyone. A writer’s talent is based on how well he/she can adapt a certain vision of reality, transforming it into a compelling story. Talent is necessary. This might sound arrogant, but be reminded that any sport, art form, business or craft requires talent. My dad is a very good welder; my father-in-law is a very good carpenter. These kinds of crafts weren’t in me just like it wasn’t in me to play drums as well as Dave Lombardo from Slayer. That doesn’t make their talent less important than mine because I’m a so-called “author.” Writing is something that came naturally to me, so I ran with it. There’s nothing else to it.

Provide a youtube link to a song you'd like to be the title track to the movie adaptation of your book.
Granted, this would be used for the end credits, but I will admit I actually wrote and paced the final scene of the novel so that a visual adaptation would fit perfectly with this song. (Fear And Sickness by Neurosis.)

Who would you like to direct the film adaptation?

I would like to do it myself. Given a minimal budget and a bit of free time, which really is just money in another form, I would be filming right now. I took the liberty of imagining the cast and crew of the movie. If I had it my way, Sage Francis would play the Biker, Ian McFarland (of Blood for Blood) would be the DOP, Mike Ness would appear as the signer in the club. Oddly enough, I still have no clue as to who would play Sam, Josie or Alice (the three main characters).

What's the worst piece of craft advice you've heard?

“You really should find yourself a real career and just write as a hobby. That’s what it is anyway, isn’t it?”

To what extent do you view writing a business?

I take the business side of writing very seriously. Maybe it’s my background, but I literally can’t afford not to take it that way. By no means would I consider myself poor in terms of worldwide poverty, but I am still well below the average Canadian income.

I first started writing novels when my hardcore band broke off a few years ago. I had too much debt, a shitty job and a crappy apartment, so I had no money to tour (in fact, I sold my fender guitar to pay the rent.) A few weeks later, someone broke into my apartment and stole everything I owned. (I was living in Hochelaga, which is/was arguably not the nicest part of town.) It was not the best time in my life.

So basically, I started writing novels because it was cheap. I bought an old computer for $35 and a screen for $10 and started typing. I was also happy that it could run Civilization II (I’m not kidding). That was seven years ago. I have since found a better job and a good woman, but when you were force to pick up loose change in your couch to buy a “no name” can of peas for supper, that teaches you a hard lesson about life and finances.

Begging and stealing was not my thing, so I worked harder. I promised myself I would never be hungry again and I intend to keep that promise so it’s is no secret that I want to make a living out of this.

Put these in order of importance: language, character, plot, money.

Character, Plot, Money, Language. Yes! Language is last. Dead last in fact. The proper workings and appropriate grammar of the English language are not as important to me as the tone of the characters, the story I’m telling, the local accents, words and flavour of the different origins or cultural background my characters have, etc…

Which writer do you most admire?

I would have to say David Fennario. He is a playwright from working class Montreal, and I would put him way up there with Beckett in terms of talent. Of course, they have a very different style, but the quality of Fennario’s writing is inspiring to me. I mostly know his early work so I would recommend you look for “Nothing to Lose”, “On The Job” and “Balconville.”

What do you do when you're not writing?

I work full time and I have a young daughter. So I pick up a lot of clothes, do a lot of dishes, go to the park. I don’t write nearly as much as I would enjoy to, but when I do it is appreciated so it keeps it interesting. Aside from that, there are a few videogames that I like to play. I train at the gym when I can. I keep busy.

How much time do you dedicate to writing? How much time would you like to spend writing?

I try to write an hour a day, regardless if it is a blog, promotion, interview or novel. That is sincerely as much as I can write on a daily basis. If the week goes well, I’ll have two or three hours on a Sunday when my daughter is taking her nap so I can drive home something like 1800 to 2000 words in a small burst. I don’t think I could top more than that per day even if I didn’t have to work on the side. Maybe (maybe) 3000 words a day, but that would mean I could put out a full size novel every two months or something.

How much time do you dedicate to promotion?

The upkeep on my social networks is something like half an hour a day. It can be more if I write blogs or interviews, but I take that as “writing” as well, given my schedule. I really do prefer events to online media, but these are more occasional.

What was the last book you bought and how did you find out about it?

I just picked up this thing called “Dog Blood” on my lunch hour by author David Moody. It was in the bargain bin and it had blood on the cover, that’s how I found it. So far it’s not disappointing.

What are your ambitions for the next year?

If I could have an agent or a publishing deal by Christmas, that would be nice, otherwise I just keep working, keep doing interviews and keep writing. I am 42000 words into my third novel and I wanted to finish the first draft around October so that I have enough time to do a re-write before I ask any colleagues to take a look at it during the Christmas brake.

What are your long-term ambitions?

I think that three books every two years is possible. I really want to make a living out of this. Hopefully, I’d make enough money to support myself.

I also carry this idea in the back of my head to re-open this thing called “L’x room” which was a youth-oriented community centre in downtown Montreal. It closed down a few years ago and since I spent most of my young adult weekends there, (the place literally saved me from killing myself when I was 18) I wish I could organize something similar.

Do you write outside of the crime genre? If not, would you like to?

Yes I do. My third novel, “A Teenage Suicide” is far from being a crime novel. It’s not a YA novel either. I don’t know yet how to categorise it beyond “Literature” but I really like it. I apply the same kind of tone, descriptions and dialogue to the novel as I would to a crime piece, but it was a somewhat different topic that was close to my heart so I really wanted to get it down on paper. I like crime and noir as much as the next guy, but every now and then, I feel like I got to do something else.

Where do you write?

In my bed (I have no office), on the city bus, in the metro (subway), at work etc… most of the grunt work is done at a local café because it is the only place I can have a table to myself. I would get absolutely no work done without a laptop. We share a two bedroom apartment me, my wife and kid (plus two cats), and we have absolutely everything we need, (including a playstation and a large television) unfortunately, we are both, Mary (a visual artist) and I, absolutely short on workspace.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

Oh! Yeah! I have plans for my next three novels. As I mentioned earlier, I am in the writing phase for “A Teenage Suicide.” I also plotted out most of my next crime novel, “Memoirs of a Hitman.” And my fifth novel, “Glory Days” will be about a bunch of hardcore kids from Notre-Dame-De-Grace here in Montreal.

I’ve got this collection of Bukowskian poems I’ve been writing and losing here and there. There was a day when I wanted to put them into a book and call it “Waiting to Die.” I haven’t done it so far.

Also, if you are from Montreal (or around) and theatre is one of your candy. Me and my wife organize a yearly event with MainLine Theatre called, “The Mainline Gala for Student Drama.” which gives students of the dramatic arts a chance to perform in a real theatre. This way they can have this “industry experience” that is so fucking necessary to get any sort of grant here in Canada.

That’s pretty much it. If you managed to get through all of that, I am both grateful and sorry.

Take care of yourselves,


Wednesday 1 August 2012

Tom Vater interview: The Devil's Road To Kathmandu

Amazon UK | Amazon US
Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words?

A kaleidoscopic pulp thriller, following two generations of drifters embroiled in a saga of sex, drugs and murder on the road between London and Kathmandu.

What's unique about it?

The brief window for counter culture travellers between Europe and Asia, now known as the overland hippie trail existed from only the late 1960s to 1979, the time of the Iranian revolution. During those heady days, countless alternative deviants travelled from Europe to the Subcontinent overland and indulged in the traditional hospitality of Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This all ended with the revolution in Iran. I travelled the same route in 1998, through a much changed, meaner and harder world, and I also met and talked at length to travellers who did this trip over and over in the early 1970s. Those were truly different and freer days, almost unimaginable today. I tried to bring this period back to life and in this sense The Devils Road to Kathmandu is a historical thriller with a subject matter that is rarely touched upon in (crime) fiction.

What are your expectations for The Devil's Road To Kathmandu?

I expect it to do well. The original print edition got great reviews. And I am biased of course; first I am the author; secondly, as part owner of Crime Wave Press, a new Hong Kong crime fiction imprint, I am also the co-publisher of this particular edition of the book and this is the publisher’s first product on the market.

How important is talent?

Talent is obviously important, but skill and experience are just as necessary if you want to make a living as a writer. I have been writing for a living for the past 15 years and at the beginning of my career – besides fiction, I write journalism, documentary screenplays, non-fiction books and guidebooks, all on subjects connected to Asia – I functioned on pure energy and enthusiasm. My early articles and books burn, burn, burn but lack in general writer’s savvy. Its a long hard road to becoming an accomplished writer who can make a sustainable living from his craft. Learning to write is a bit like learning to speak a language. You get by with pidgin and signs for a while, but then, to express complex ideas, the nitty-gritty of technique and knowledge is absolutely necessary.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I don’t have much spare time. I am currently setting up a new crime fiction imprint with publisher Hans Kemp of Visionary World. Crime Wave Press is a Hong Kong based fiction imprint that endeavors to publish the best new crime novels from Asia and about Asia to readers around the globe. Incidentally, Crime Wave Press is currently looking for authors.

Besides writing, I travel a lot on magazine assignments around Asia. In my spare time, I go trekking, scuba diving and read, read, read. Occasionally, I play guitar in Rock'n'Roll bands.

How much do you read?

I read a lot, several novels a month, as well as numerous non-fiction titles and countless articles. It comes with the job, reporting on culture, travel and politics in Asia, I constantly absorb information to be able to provide information.

I read fiction vociferously – especially noir crime fiction like Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Ross MacDonald and Massimo Carlotto, as well as more general fare, anything from Joseph Conrad to Graham Greene to Philip Kerr.

How much time do you dedicate to writing? How much time would you like to spend writing?

I write pretty constantly and 16-hour days are no rarity. I also travel a fair bit and write while I travel. Right now I am in France writing my third novel, which is set in Laos. I am also editing someone else’s novel which is set in India, Thailand and Laos. I have just completed a magazine assignment on street food in Cambodia, am preparing a pitch for an illustrated book, and am discussing a screenplay with a documentary director.

How much time do you dedicate to promotion?

I dedicate a fair amount of time to promotion. I run two blogs ( &, three facebook pages and contribute to many other blogs. Id say I am fairly tireless and promotion is an integral part of the job.

In July 2011, I published a book called Sacred Skin (, the first English-language book on Thailands spirit tattoos. The title has become something of a bestseller, especially in Southeast Asia, and has garnered more than thirty rave reviews, including three pages in TIME Magazine, as well as positive coverage stuff on CNN, in El Mundo, Die Zeit, Courier International and many other publications. The book has been the subject of two documentaries. All this PR was time-consuming, but in the end, the solid sales seem to make it worthwhile.

How effective is social media as a marketing aid?

Thats very hard to say. I must say I am not totally convinced by its effectiveness, in terms of PR for my work, of sites like facebook. But I leave nothing to chance and contribute regularly to fb, google + and My blog gets some 20,000 hits a month and has landed me assignments.

Do you write outside of the crime genre? If not, would you like to?

Yes, I am a widely published writer with a focus on Asia. I write for the British broadsheets, the Asia Wall Street Journal and countless other publications. Together with director Marc Eberle, I write documentary screenplays, including The Most Secret Place on Earth, a seminal film about the CIAs largest covert operation, in 1960s Laos. Together with photographer Aroon Thaewchatturat I have published a number of illustrated books, most notably Sacred Skin. See above for further details.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

The Cambodian Book of the Dead (Amazon UK | Amazon US), my second novel, is out now as a Kindle eBook with Crime Wave Press and made it into the Top 100 Hardboiled novels on Amazon within three days of publication. Its the first Maier mystery. I am currently working on a second Maier mystery, due out next year.

German Detective Maier travels to Cambodia, a country re-emerging from a half century of war, genocide, famine and cultural collapse, find the heir to a Hamburg coffee empire.

As soon as the private eye and former war reporter arrives in Cambodia, his search for the young coffee magnate leads into the darkest corners of the country’s history: A beautiful, scarred woman with a mythical and frightening past, a Khmer Rouge general, an ex-pat gangster, an old flame, a man-eating shark and a gang of teenage girl assassins lead the detective back in time, through the communist revolution to the White Spider, a Nazi war criminal who hides amongst the detritus of another nation’s collapse and reigns over an ancient Khmer temple deep in the jungles of Cambodia.

Maier, captured and imprisoned, is forced into the worst job of his life – he is to write the biography of the White Spider, a tale of mass murder that reaches from the Cambodian Killing Fields back to Europe’s concentration camps – or die.

The print edition of The Cambodian Book of the Dead will be launched at the UBUD Writers and Readers Festival, one of Asia’s largest literary events, in Bali in October.