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Expatriate Authors in Asia: Writing for a Niche Market or a Wider World?


Christopher G. Moore in opening remarks

Last night (Wednesday 26th March) there was a standing room only house for Dean Barrett, Stephen Leather, Colin Cotterill, and myself. We spoke about publishing fiction in Asia and the nature of publishing in Thailand specifically and more generally about publishing in New York and London. After our individual presentation we had many people queuing up to ask questions. Colin asked the audience how many had written a novel. I’d guess about 18 hands shot up, and then asked how many of the writers had been published. There were two hands left remaining. One person asked if we were all “rich” and left the clear impression that he was in writing for the money. Stephen, at one moment, acknowledged that he was the richest person on the panel. No one disputed him. In my opening remarks I dealt with the probabilities of striking it rich. Less than 1% of authors actually can make a living writing full time. Even with lottery like odds, there are those who feel “lucky” and that writing is their ticket to life style of the rich and famous. ...
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Posted: 3/27/2008 1:32:39 AM 

 

Expatriate Authors in Asia:

Writing for a Niche Market or a Wider World?


a round-table discussion with Dean Barrett,
Christopher Moore,
Stephen Leather, and Colin Cotterill


Wednesday, March 26 at 8:00 pm

Cover charge for non-members: 300 Baht


Hope to see you at the FCCT. Here are the address, phone and email details for the FCCT: ...
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Posted: 3/25/2008 10:46:02 PM 

 

FINANCIAL EXPLOSION

In the current American financial meltdown no one is able to come to grips with the extent or seriousness of the damage from the subprime mortgage crisis. It is as if someone had been shot but no one is quite certain what part of the body was hit, if vital organs are involved, whether the patient is in ICU or still in emergency triage. The subprime mortgage problem is the entry wound but so far no one has found the exist wound. Meanwhile the dollar continues to bleed.

SEX IN CRIME FICTION

Crime fiction is infused with booze, sex, murder, betrayal, and mystery. Everyone seems to approve of mystery. There is a faction that would censor, restrict, hack out or dismember parts or all of the other elements (except for murder which I will get to in a minute). ...
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Posted: 3/21/2008 4:33:21 AM 

 

On Wednesday 26th March 2008, at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand (FCCT), I will be on a panel with Dean Barrett, Stephen Leather, and Colin Cotterill. The talk is “Writing for a Niche Market or a Wider World?” The panel will discuss the present sate and future state of expatriate fiction in this part of the world. The talk starts at 8.00 p.m.

If you are in Bangkok, please come along. I’ve employed a forensic expert to assist in finding the person at the FCCT who can tell me whether my books can be sold at the event. He says this is a difficult assignment. Hopefully before the event, an answer will be forthcoming. ...
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Posted: 3/19/2008 3:44:00 AM 

 

The second book in the Vincent Calvino series is Asia Hand. It was first published by White Lotus in 1993 and reprinted by Heaven Lake Press in 2000. A number of fans believe it is among the best in the series. 

Grove/Atlantic had decided to publish Asia Hand in the United States and Great Britain. This is a good news for a couple of reasons. It means the back listed books in the series will be published in sequence. Spirit House is due to be released in July 2008. You can expect the trade paperback edition of Asia Hand to be published in July 2009.

To refresh your memory, here’s a summary of Asia Hand. ...
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Posted: 3/17/2008 11:16:23 PM 

 

I have received the Atlantic Books (my UK publisher) July-December 2008 catalogue. Two of the Calvino novels are listed. The trade paperback edition of Spirit House is scheduled for July 2008, ISBN 978184354. The cover won’t win any points from the anti-smoking lobby but personally I like it. The moody noir feeling of the book is set by the image.

...
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Posted: 3/17/2008 3:18:29 AM 

 

Paul Theroux has been writing novels and travel books since 1967 when he was 25 years old. His 1973 novel Saint Jack, set in Singapore, is classic expat literature. The Consul’s File is set in Malaysia, is a collection of brilliant short stories, which hold up well years after publication. His novel Kowloon Tong chronicled one families disintegration after the British handover to mainland China 1997. Along with The Elephanta Suite (three novellas, 2007) is set in India. In other words, Theroux’s fiction has a long and distinguished association with Asia and his fiction has inspired a generation of expat authors. I can personally recommend the titles mentioned above. For anyone living in Asia, they provide a 35-year perspective on cultural and social transformation of expat life. A good place to start is with Saint Jack. ...
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Posted: 3/3/2008 9:43:42 PM 

 

At the end of January I gave the closing dinner talk at the East West Center Media Conference in Bangkok. The Centre has put up a summary of the talk “For Better facts, take a tour through fiction” on their website. This was a great group of journalists, academics, NGOs from around the world. ...
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Posted: 3/2/2008 11:23:43 PM 

 



On the 24th February I was in Pattaya and spoke before the Pattaya Expat Club. Richard Ravensdale, the Club’s program director, extended an invitation some months. There was a good turn out and lots of questions during the Q&A period that followed by talk.

Here is a video clip of an interview with the Club President Niels Colov for Pattaya People TV.

...
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Posted: 3/2/2008 11:22:51 PM 

 

Writers have different ways of working. I have friends who write one draft and send it to their editors. It’s finished, done, off their plate. I envy them. My first and second drafts aren’t fit to be seen by anyone except a handful of readers.

I have just finished the third draft of the 10th Calvino novel – Paying Back Jack. But is this the finished book ready for the publisher? Like my other novels, this one will go through another set of revisions. Four to five drafts to finish a novel is my average. Part of the reason, in my case, for multiple drafts, as I write a draft I find many new possibilities to develop the story and characters. An organic development arises from the writing process. It is at this stage, for me, where the pure joy of writing happens. Connections, events, snippets of dialogue, and motivation emerge from the white heat of writing inside a fictive world. I never know what will happen next. I never know the ending. In fact, I never know the opening of the book I feel works until I have finished the third draft. ...
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Posted: 2/27/2008 11:25:12 PM 

 

From time to time someone comes up with a list of crime fiction writers. The purpose is to compose a Who’s Who of the crime fiction world. Such lists are inevitably controversial and, indeed, it might be said that the very idea is not a bad way to pump up circulation. The most recent example of crime fiction list making is the Telegraph which on 23rd February published their list under the title: 50 Crime Writers to read before you die.

Such a list is bound to uncork the opinion bottle in the vast crime fiction universe. Why choose 50 writers as opposed to a 100? There is no real answer to that. There is always a cut off. Given reader attention and space in the paper, 50 writers apparently fit the bill.

What criteria was used by the Telegraph? Apparently it was based on “love.”...
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Posted: 2/26/2008 5:36:32 AM 

 

A drawing was held in Bangkok on 19th February at 3.27 p.m. local time (a lucky number for those wishing to buy a lotto ticket) for the grand prize winner of the bookstore photo contest Authors are prone to wonder how well their books are distributed. From the response to the contest as well as from emails, there is no question that my publisher and their distributor have done an outstanding job in getting copies of THE RISK OF INFIDELITY INDEX to bookstores throughout the United States.

The winner of theSpecial Edition of A Killing Smile is Chris Coles.

Chris is a well-known artist of many paintings in the Bangkok Noir series.

Here’s the photo submitted by Chris Coles:



A special thanks to those of you who emailed photos from their local bookstore , which sold copies of The Risk of Infidelity Index. ...
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Posted: 2/19/2008 4:14:37 AM 

 

With Facebook or Bebo (if you are in UK) pages have mushroomed. Millions of people have pages. I have a Facebook page (though sadly with deadlines I have little time to update it). In recent years, government agencies, insurance companies, employers, lawyers, and investigators are discovering that there is “dirt” to be mined in the pages of these online sites.

Since most people feel as they sit in front of their computer screen typing away that their confession is for a few friends, they open up and say things they would never say at dinner party. For example, you write about how much you drank last night as you staggered to your car to drive home. You write a love letter to someone online. And before long you have an online romance going to the boil. You write about how your workplace is hell and your boss is a craven, blood-drinking third-world dictator. You feel better having got that off your chest. ...
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Posted: 2/18/2008 11:59:08 PM 

 

Over the weekend The Vancouver Sun selected The Risk of Infidelity Index as one of 6 books chosen by the editor. “Our review of an earlier one said it had ‘a gumshoe swagger and a charged atmosphere reminiscent of such Asian-set films as Peter Weir's The Year of Living Dangerously.’” ...
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Posted: 2/18/2008 2:41:11 AM 

 

On Wednesday 20th February 2008 look for the announcement of the winner of a special edition of A Killing Smile. Everyone who sent a photo of a friend, relative, or bookstore employee holding a copy of The Risk of Infidelity Index is eligible. ...
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Posted: 2/18/2008 2:40:57 AM 

 

On Sunday 24th February 2008 I will be speaking before the Pattaya Expats Club. The event starts at 11.00 a.m. at the Grand Sole Hotel, Second Road Pattaya. Here’s a link http://www.grandsolepattaya.com/location.htm for location details and http://www.grandsolepattaya.com for information on the hotel. I will be talking about writing in an Asian context. The title of the talk is: “The Ghost of W. Somerset Maugham: Or why there is no vintage gossip.” I’ll be discussing the nature of “truth” and the connection between how truth is perceived depending on a number of cultural factors. If you are in Pattaya on the 24th of February, please drop in as you don’t have to be a member of the club to attend a Sunday meeting. ...
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Posted: 2/18/2008 2:40:38 AM 

 

Interim report on the 3rd draft of the new Calvino novel. I am on schedule to finish the third draft in 8 to 10 days. My work day begin in the morning with reviewing the previous days pages, then lunch. I return to my desk and begin the process of shifting, deleting, modifying, rewriting the text. After dinner, I go through the next pages of the second draft, looking at reader notes, and rethink whether the scene advances the story. Whether the characters are acting consistently, whether their motives for acting are clear, and whether background narrative is adding to a well-rounded story. This goes on seven days a week. I stop for lunch and dinner and workouts at the health club, then back to the isolation tank. ...
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Posted: 2/18/2008 2:39:27 AM 

 

That is the title of a recent article in the Financial Post 12th February 2008 by Karen Mazurkewich. Her aim is on the sexual indiscretions of expat men posted abroad. She writes:

“Infidelity happens around the world, but for expatriates on assignment in Asia, the combination of cultural isolation, career-obsessed spouses and a pervasive sex industry adds further pressure to a marriage. The city of Hong Kong has been called the "graveyard of marriages" and exclusive Bangkok nightclubs targeting foreigners, such as Pent Exclusive Club, have been dubbed "weapons of mass destruction for families" by local journalists.

An specifically about the night scene, Mazurkewich observes:...
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Posted: 2/13/2008 4:19:03 AM 

 

I have been blogging less this week. The main reason is that I am working on the third draft of the new Calvino novel. The progress is slow but sure and I expect to have the draft finished by the first week in March. I envy the writers who can write five pages, revise, move on, and then at the end of the book, hit the save button and send it off to the publisher. I pull apart the text of each draft and rewrite substantially. It’s like performing an autopsy of an unknown species, each time you look at what should be a femur and find out it is sticking out of the head, you know it is time to go back and look at the skeleton again. The main thing is to make certain that the skull is connected to the backbone....
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Posted: 2/6/2008 2:03:50 AM 

 

Over the years, some of original titles in the English edition have changed. The reprinted English editions with different titles from the original include:

Cut Out = Zero Hour in Phnom Penh
Enemies of Memory = Tokyo Joe
Saint Anne = Red Sky Falling

Non-English editions also can cause confusion. Like most writers, I have no control over the decision of a foreign language publisher to change the original English title. Most of the time, that wouldn't matter, as the new title is in a foreign language. But sometimes the foreign publisher uses a different English language title on the foreign language edition to broaden the international image of the book.

...
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Posted: 2/3/2008 11:21:31 PM 

 

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