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Blog Archive July 2006

Heart Talk

Thai Day reviewed Heart Talk on Monday 31 July 2006, and concluded, “Heart Talk is an interesting reference and would make a good gift for anyone with a passion for the Thai language.”

Keep in mind that there is a companion website for Heart Talk to support the book. Have a look at http://www.thaihearttalk.info You can click on to a jai phrase and listen to a native Thai speaker properly pronounce it. There are sample phrases, and quizzes where you can test your knowledge of the language of the heart.

Heart Talk is 384 pages and is a vast improvement on the previous two editions.

Posted: 7/31/2006 5:49:08 AM 


Cambodia: The Gate

Last Sunday I flew to Phnom Penh. One of those fifty-five minutes flights that now make even the most exotic place accessible. Changes are everywhere since my first trip to Cambodia in 1993. The scale of the city stays much the same: mainly three, four story shop houses, wet markets, old colonial era villas with a fresh coat of paint and new windows. The bone-aching poverty remains. The leathery sun beaten faces under over sized bamboo hats. Swarms of motorcycles cut across multi-lanes of traffic in a ballet of near death experience. The streets filled with people. I try to imagine that day in April when the Khmer Rouge emptied the city, leaving it to the dogs, cats and rats.

I met with a Cambodian author (H.E. Francis Sam Sotha) whose personal memoir charts his four years inside the killing field. Heaven Lake Press will publish those memoirs in the autumn. During my stay I visited the church where the author spent time. Sam and his wife Sony showed me around the grounds. The chapel, the quarters where students lived, and the inner grounds. The church which survived the khmer rouge unfortunately will not survive the development of the city. The old church is scheduled to be pulled down. Here is a photograph of the church in Phnom Penh.

One of the best books written about that time is Bizot’s The Gate.

Few books ever capture the feverish nightmare of the killing fields as The Gate. The pacing, the rich narrative drive, the drama unfolding in ordinary lives makes it a classic. If you want to lens to view one of the great horror stories of Southeast Asia, you should buy this book, curl up, turn off the telephone and computer and let yourself be transported to a world that you will thank god you never had to experience first hand.

Posted: 7/28/2006 12:05:42 AM 



It is in my hands. Heart Talk. Like a new baby. Is she ever beautiful. If you want to deeper your understanding of what is below the surface in thinking when it comes to the Thai language, then this is the book.

Inside is a whole world of emotional, irrational, logical, playful, sad, hopeful and funny ways that the Thai heart plays itself out.

Buy my new baby. She wants a place in your heart.

Posted: 7/20/2006 5:37:17 AM 


Crouching Tiger Sequel in Canadian Courts

Success brings in the lawyers faster than failure.

CBC Arts files a report about a court battle of film rights to a novel. A case in point is Dr. Hong Wang — who works as a research scientist for Agriculture Canada in Swift Current — whose father wrote 5 novels, one of them Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Ang Lee film based on the book went on to make $200 million in worldwide sales. Lee and his co-producer got the original rights for a five-year period for $30,000.00. Now the family wants $500,000 from those wanting to make the sequel.

The crouching tiger is Sony Pictures, which has sued the family in Regina. Another studio, we will call them Hidden Dragon, also claims rights to the book.

Posted: 7/20/2006 4:09:15 AM 


Reader’s Comments

If you wish to add your 2 cents to any of the blog entries, there is now a readers comment box. Click on and pass along your thoughts.

It would be a good thing to create a community where everyone has a chance to share their opinion on a topic.

Posted: 7/19/2006 2:51:43 AM 


CBC Words at Large

The CBC Words at Large has posted a feature article about Canadians who have won international awards for crime fiction. According to the article, I am one of seven Canadian crime fiction authors to win an international award.

Other Canadian authors included are:

- 2006 Louise Penny won the New Blood Dagger for Still Life (McArthur & Co.)
- 2002 Peter Robinson won the Dagger in the Library Award for his Inspector Banks series (Penguin Canada)
- 2002 Giles Blunt won the Silver Dagger for Forty Words for Sorrow (Random House Canada)
- 2002 Illona van Mil won the Debut Dagger for an unpublished manuscript for Sugarmilk Falls


- 2003 Sylvia Maultash Warsh won the Edgar for Best Paperback Original for Find Me Again (Dundurn)
- 2002 Tim Wynne-Jones won the Edgar for Best Young Adult for Boy in the Burning House (Groundwood)
- 2001 Peter Robinson won the Edgar for Best Short Story for "Missing in Action" (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Posted: 7/19/2006 2:50:45 AM 


Originality Redux

I have had several replies about my earlier blog discussing the importance of originality. The most thoughtful of the comments came from one reader, a long time resident of Thailand, who wrote:

“Liked the blog on 'originality of story' (vs. talent alone). In particular, "Self-discovery is not the basis for an original story" - should be standard text in 'Literature 101". How many SE Asian novels would we have (gratefully, graciously) been spared?

Going unmentioned was the mastering of "story-telling", which draws the reader along (with or without originality): The reader's curiosity the ring in his nose, the author having tethered the ring. For example, I think [insert the name of many Booker Award winning author] is a rarity in that he qualifies as "master" in talent, but unable to generate enough curiosity factor for me to be able to finish even one of his books.

DaVinci Code had an embarrassing over -abundance of these writing 'techniques' to generate curiosity, along with, of course, being able to add nothing original. (But it was apparently not an "over-abundance" to the masses...). The "Code" also successfully played to the "curiosity " of the masses on the secrecy and conspiracy angle as relating to ancient and occult symbolism. The masses were also intensely curious about what religious 'revelations' and sacrileges might be in the offing. It's only afterward that you realize you've been eating cotton candy - it looked impressive and tasted good at the beginning; only later you realize there was nothing there to begin with.

Unfortunately, piquing the collective curiosity (starting the 'buzz') -within the confines of the written work- can only be attempted, it cannot be calculated in advance. (Expensive PR/ puff pieces/ hype being another matter - where excrement like BKK-8 can be fobbed off as readable if the 'right people' say it is readable. - the creation of curiosity in the potential reader.)”

Posted: 7/19/2006 1:07:36 AM 


Sell By Date on Thriller Heroes

One of the best reviewers in Asia is Mark Schreiber, who pens reviews for The Japan Times. His most recent offering comes under the heading of “Vietvets come in from the cold war.”

On Sunday 16 July 2006 Mark Schreiber reviewed:

THE LAST ASSASSIN by Barry Eisler. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2006, 334 pp., $24.95 (cloth).

WHITE TIGER by Michael Allen Dymmoch. St. Martin's Minotaur, 2005, 308 pp., $ 24.95 (cloth).

THE TUNNEL RATS by Stephen Leather. Hodder and Stoughton, 2005, 501 pp., £6.99 (paper).

Schreiber scored a direct hit when he warned that authors should realize that we are approaching a time when fictional heroes (at least of the action variety) won't be Vietnam vets. Time rolls on. And ultimately time rolls over us, hero or not. The inevitability of age will undo Vietnam vet heroes as contemporary action heroes just as happened with vets from earlier wars. Much in the same way no writer of contemporary fiction is recycling WWII or Korean War Veterans as the leading man in crime fiction; unless, it is an old geezer found face down in the mud outside of the barn, pitch fork in one hand and freshly signed will in the other.

Placing a recognizable time tag on a main character for a continuing series requires planning. I figure an author has about a dozen books before his vet hero starts enjoying a cup of warm milk as he swallows a bunch of pills for his heart, bladder, liver and kidneys before crawling into bed alone to watch Jay Leno. While the movie actor playing James Bond is turned over every few years as the producers decide the arteries have hardened in the existing lead. This is a good lesson for any author contemplating a series of books based on a hero with a military background. I wonder whether in editorial meetings behind closed doors the editor, marketing and sales guy, the cover design guy, or the bean counter in the brown suite ever think about the shelf life of a fictional character beyond the current book.

“But the hero was a body guard in Dallas the day JFK was shot,” says the editor.

”Everyone knows where they were on that day.”

“I wasn’t born on that day,” says the marketing guy.

“So how old is the hero?” asks the design guy who already has a cover in mind.

Editor blushes. “He has no age.”

There is a hush in the room. The marketing guy clears his throat, “How old do you have to be to get a secret service job? At least ten years old,” he says laughing into his hand.

The bean counter has punched his calculator madly. “Assuming he was twenty-two years old in 1963, that makes him 65 years old. And he’s running down bad guys, jumping over walls, dodging bullets.”

The editor says, “It’s a book that will appeal to the Baby Boomers.”

There is a lot of eye rolling around the table. Even Baby Boomers will have to give up sooner or later, surrender to the fact heroes are like hockey players, once they hit 35 years old they are off the ice, doing radio commentary, selling used cars, entertaining those at the bar with stories of what real hockey used to be like.

Once an author links a hero or anti-hero to a large historical event or person, he/she automatically has an expiry date. Longer than a shelf life of a loaf of bread, but still a sell by date looms. Readers are fussy about the background of characters in a novel so it isn’t an alternative to make them men and women without a past. The infinitely difficult path is to create a bio for the character who may become a continuing character without explaining he learned how to fly Cobras during the second Gulf War. But one day that second Gulf War hero will be restricted to casting him as an old geezer face down in the mud in front of the barn door or Larry’s Dive.

Posted: 7/17/2006 12:11:03 AM 


Man Bites Dog or Client acquitted, his Lawyer goes to Jail

Here is an idea for a book: When a Lawyer Needs A Lawyer

The local newspapers reported that Chuwit Ramovisit and 129 associates had been acquitted in the 2003 demolition of 135 retail shops on Soi 10, Sukhumvit Road. At the time, observers reported that Sukhumvit had been closed off by a large group of men. They seemed to be well organized and in the early hours of the morning on January 26, 2003 bulldozed the six-rai area. The shop owners pulled out the odd TV and other items from the debris. But basically they lost everything.

All of the accused pleaded not guilty. Fair enough. The court found Mr. Chuwit’s lawyer guilty and sentenced him to eight months in jail.

It seemed someone had to serve some time for the massive wreckage.

An ending worth of Shakespeare

Posted: 7/14/2006 6:16:59 AM 


Moore Reading List

I’ve been asked what books I have been reading (and I’ve expanded this books that I have in the pipeline from amazon). Readers are naturally curious as to the kind of books that authors read. An author’s reading preference often provides an insight into what they choose to put in (and exclude) from their books (if not a window into the author’s personality, taste, interests, etc).

I read a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles. I just finished Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation. Insightful, quirky, original and thought provoking as the author is autistic and draws a comparison between the way the mind of an autistic person works and that of other animals. The current novel that I am reading is Charles McCarry’s Old Boys.

I usually read a number of books over the same time period. Here are recent titles that I’ve ordered from amazon and are next up on my list to read:

"The Divided Mind : The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders"
John E. Sarno; Hardcover; $17.61

"Descartes' Error : Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain"
Antonio Damasio; Paperback; $9.75

"Mapping the Mind"
Rita Carter; Paperback; $15.72

"Mapping Human History : Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins"
Steve Olson; Paperback; $10.78

"In Other Words"
Christopher J. Moore; Hardcover; $10.78

"Emotions Revealed : Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life"
Paul Ekman; Paperback; $9.75

"Happiness : A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill"
Matthieu Ricard; Hardcover; $14.92

"The Swallows of Kabul"
Yasmina Khadra; Paperback; $9.24

"Speak of the Devil : A Novel"
Richard Hawke; Hardcover; $14.27

"The Long Tail : Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More"
Chris Anderson; Hardcover; $14.97

"Born on a Blue Day: A Memoir of Aspergers and an Extraordinary Mind"
Daniel Tammet; Hardcover; £10.18

Posted: 7/14/2006 2:41:39 AM 


The Risk of Infidelity Index – Calvino update

I will finish the second draft in two weeks. Meanwhile, the new cover design has been approved. I appreciate the many comments and suggestions the first cover drafts received. The views of my readers are an important consideration. We went from blood in the water to a target with bullet holes in it. That is all part of the creative process. I am fortunate to have a publisher that at least listens to my views.

On the 27th of July, the second draft of Risk will go out to a select number of readers who have previously read and commented on early drafts. In this part of the process (which is crucial) I can strengthen the book by taking into account the comments by readers who want to love the book. If that reader finds flaws, then an author must be open minded enough to have a second look and find a way to mend the flaw. That is the function of the third draft (at least for this writer).

It is not unlike the inspection of a house which the builder says is ready, only when you go through the downstairs, you find a few things missing, say a door to the back garden, a place for the fridge, a staircase that leads to nowhere. They want to love the house but they know they can’t live it until the things have finished, unfinished, or forgotten have been fixed.

Posted: 7/13/2006 3:47:01 AM 


Reviewers and Novelists

Jeffrey Cohen has done both. He’s been a reviewer and he’s a novelist. His perspective on getting a bad review is interesting. The review he received was one of those: Chop off the writer’s fingers, then hands, and finally arms, toss them in a velvet bag and burn it in bonfire on the fifty yard line as half-time entertainment. Make certain the stadium is filled with 50,000 wannabe writers who need a lesson about writing crap.

That kind of twisted, nasty review that makes you wince like you are watching an autopsy. But the person isn’t quite dead. Oh, oh, that looks like it hurts. But, hey he volunteered for this, doesn’t he know when you go through that door marked published writer that he entered into a world of hurt? Ignore his screams of pain. He deserves having the top of his skull sawed off. No brain of any consequence inside? It doesn’t matter, he’s dead now.

As a novelist, he has admitted to having second thoughts about his own file cabinet of bad reviews written about other people’s creative work.

“The relationship between authors and reviewers is a very complex one. Having done both, I can tell you that neither is easy, neither pays especially well except at the very top of the profession, and both are done for the sheer love of the form in almost every case. I've written reviews that I wish I could take back (all negative ones, even when the film/book/play/record in question was truly awful--I was snarky and shouldn't have been), some that I would hold up for all the world to see and some that, well, I had a deadline and it was a slow week.”

Posted: 7/12/2006 12:40:15 AM 


Japanese literary award for Michael Connelly

Over at Jiro Kimura’s The Gumshoe site comes the news that “Michael Connelly won the Maltese Falcon Award from The Maltese Falcon Society Japan for LOST LIGHT (Little Brown, 2003) as the best hardboiled/private eye novel published in Japan in the previous year.” Connelly also won the Falcon Award, the first being for THE BLACK ICE (1993).

Posted: 7/12/2006 12:37:35 AM 


Eyes of Wisdom Exhibition

If you are in Bangkok on Friday 7 July 2006, please drop in at the The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand around 7.00 p.m. I will make a speech to open a special exhibition of photographs by Ralf Tooten.

Ulrike Crespo Foundation and Goethe-Institute Bangkok which are the sponsor of the exhibition expect a full house.

Ralf Tooten’s exhibition is a contribution to the understanding between religion and culture. He is based in Bangkok, and traveled around the world for five Years to make portraits of the dignitaries of the world’s most significant religions. His work resulted in an exhibition and a Pictures Book, which is called Eyes of Wisdom- a plea for inter-religious dialogue.

More than 50 large format black and white Portraits offer an opportunity to observe and encounter great human beings who have become symbols of their faith.

“Photos can be many things Art, remembrance, documentation Here they become symbols Of a deeper truth”

“The heart of all religions is one.”

His Holiness the XIV. Dalai Lama

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand
The Penthouse, Maneeya Center
518/5 Ploenchit Road
Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
+66 02-652-0580/1 (office)
+66 02-652-0582 (fax)

Posted: 7/5/2006 4:07:43 AM 



Colin Cotterill’s latest novel in his award winning series titled Disco for the Departed will be released on 1st August 2006.

The advance reviews are excellent. Booklist wrote:

“The third entry in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series finds the spry, wry national coroner of Laos picking up a few new dance moves courtesy of a Cuban relief worker whose spirit takes up residence in the old doctor's body. Now that Siri's status as spirit host and ghost dreamer is well documented, Cotterill wisely opens up this disco-era tale of murder and deception by giving sidekicks Mr. Geung and Nurse Dtui their own rich subplots.”

Posted: 7/5/2006 3:09:48 AM 


Monday Morning, Bangkok

I am one third of the way through the second draft of The Risk of Infidelity Index. It amazes me how the process of writing a second draft elements of the story and character arise as if my magic. The creative process is a mystery. We all draw from our own private well of experience, drop the bucket, wait to hear the splash, then slowly pull it back up and examine what is inside.

I feel this time out, the story is stronger, and the new characters well defined. Each time I come across one of the new characters I ask myself what do I really know about this person? Looking at her or his actions, motives, and desires, what is there in the history of the person that makes these elements natural and understandable. A person in fiction, as in real life, can only act unpredictably if we have a base line of knowledge of makes the person’s actions predictable in the first place.

Posted: 7/3/2006 2:16:43 AM 


German language editions

Like many writers I check on the amazon.com rankings of my books. Mostly this is an ego-driven, time wasting exercise, taking away from the more task at hand: writing. The rankings are never stable. Like the mirror of life, they seem to have more in common with matter at the quantum level.

If I stand on the fence to crow this morning, it is to pass along that the German edition of Cold Hit, retitled Nana Plaza (by my German language publisher) is ranked at 8,374. This ranking will no doubt follow my stock portfolio and fall off the cliff by the end of the day.
At the moment, here’s the scoop:

+ Broschiert: 313 Seiten
+ Verlag: Unionsverlag; Auflage: 2., Aufl. (Mai 2001)
+ Sprache: Deutsch
+ ISBN: 3293202047
+ Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: basierend auf 6 Rezensionen. (Schreiben Sie eine Rezension!)
+ Amazon.de Verkaufsrang: #8,374 in Bücher

The German edition of Spirit House which is titled Haus der Geister is doing even better:

+ Broschiert: 313 Seiten
+ Verlag: Unionsverlag (März 2000)
+ Sprache: Deutsch
+ ISBN: 3293201687
+ Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: basierend auf 7 Rezensionen. (Schreiben Sie eine Rezension!)
+ Amazon.de Verkaufsrang: #4,751 in Bücher

The last piece of German publishing news is that Haus der Geister is now available in an audio version. Delta Music has produced 4 CDs for the German market. The ranking is not so impressive, coming in at 171,670. Hopefully for the CD producer this will change for the better.

Posted: 7/3/2006 2:11:39 AM 



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