Kevin Cummings and the Bangkok Beat

bangkok-beat-finalKevin Cummings, Bangkok’s online cultural impresario, suggested we interview each other for our blogs. Kevin’s blog, Thailand Footprints, covers the local writerly scene, among other things, and he has a new book out, Bangkok Beats, a series of curios about life in the Big Mango.

Welcome, Kevin. When you suggested we swap interviews, I thought this would be fun. You have a lot of interesting Q&As on your website with a variety of people in Bangkok and beyond, with a heavy focus on literature and the arts. I haven’t done that sort of thing before so it’s great to bring a new dimension here. While you are not a novelist, you do have a book out about the Bangkok arts scene. But I think more importantly you and your website are like the glue for Thai-based writers. You provide an online community for them, as well as for folks like myself, in the region but not affiliated directly with what goes on in Bangkok. So my first question is, what drives you to play this role?

Kevin Cummings: Thanks, Jame. Being in Thailand more than half my time since 2001 has taught me that there should be some fun or sanook as the Thais say, in whatever we undertake – even work. To answer your question, a void and encouragement. I set out to create a blog that I would want to read. The blueprint came from a quote by an American author who also spent a fair amount of time being an expat: Continue reading “Kevin Cummings and the Bangkok Beat”

Cowgirl X: now available

CowgirlXMy new Val Benson thriller, Cowgirl X, has been published by Crime Wave Press. She is ready to be downloaded in e-book format at Amazon. A print version is in the works.

Los Angeles, on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq. Val Benson, ex-bar hostess and party girl, scarred from her treasure hunt in Asia, is telling her story in the hope of getting some kind of justice for the killings of her friends. But she gets sidetracked by the delivery of an ancient sword hilt – and caught up in the search for a Japanese porn starlet who’s gone missing in the streets of LA.

Tangling with a reporter, assassins, a tycoon playboy, a murderous mystic and a grandfather-grandson pair of Navajo native Americans, Val burns a trail back to Asia. But is she helping resolve old crimes, or falling into a trap? Climaxing at the pinnacle of Angkor Wat, the biggest temple in the world lost amid the Cambodian jungle, Cowgirl X is a wild and dangerous ride.

The Last Unicorn

9780316232869_p0_v2_s260x420I’m tempted to describe this book as elegiac, but that would be inaccurate on two counts.*

First, although the extinction of wildlife accelerates, William deBuys tempers the destruction he reports with hope that the fragile situation for many animals may be rescued yet. An elegy usually mourns a death, and the ‘unicorn’ of his tale, the mysterious horned beast called the saola, native to just the remotest corners of Laos and Vietnam, is not yet extinct.

Secondly, although deBuys covers plenty to lament, he isn’t a fatalist. Conservation, he notes, has now become an act of triage. Most animals will not survive, but hardnosed decisions may save some. Continue reading “The Last Unicorn”

Cover girl

CowgirlXVal Benson will be back toward the end of June in my new thriller, Cowgirl X. Our hard-nosed hero is on a mission to bring justice to the thieves, pimps and murderers who had hunted her from Tokyo to the Thai borderlands. Her campaign lands her a movie deal but things in sunny L.A. get dark quick. A Japanese porn starlet has gone missing, a mysterious ancient sword hilt ends up in her hotel room, and a pair of assassins are on the loose…with orders to get Val. From Hollywood to Angkor Wat, Cowgirl X is a pacey, action-packed ride. Here’s the cover – I hope you like it!

The Greening of Asia

images-1Asia’s terrible environmental problems are the side effect of the world’s greatest economic success story, ever: the lifting of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

In 1981, three-quarters of Asia’s population lived in extreme poverty; today only about 15% do, while countries such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are among the wealthiest and sophisticated in the world – with China joining their ranks and other countries, from Indonesia to India, developing quickly.

But Asia, home to most of the world’s population, is also now the most polluted and the most in danger of irrevocably destroying its environment. Continue reading “The Greening of Asia”

Musicians = writers (why most of us are broke)

The Financial Times has a great article about the paradox in the music business: even as the economics for songwriters and artists dwindles, record numbers of people are trying to participate. The parallel to the writing biz is amazingly exact (and pretty close for journalists).

Times were never better for media moguls who can parse and distribute content across a dizzying complex of channels and digital touchpoints; times were never better for top 1% content producers (formerly known as artists); times were never more challenging for the other 99%.

The increasingly lower-cost means of production continue mesmerize freelance/independent content manufacturers into a false sense of commercial achievement, while professionals’ remuneration is squeezed and only a handful can transform themselves into personal brands.

How not to read from your book

The organizers of the Hong Kong Writers’ Circle put together an opportunity for members who are published to do a quick reading, maybe sell a few copies, to donate to Room to Read, and enjoy a few drinks.

The quality of the readings was poor. I’m not talking about the actual content, but the delivery. OK, so it was an informal gig of mostly self-selected peers. But while a HKWC event isn’t going to deliver a real audience, it gives people a chance to practice. Writers, would-be or otherwise, should treat it professionally if they want to be taken seriously.

Instead, we had: Continue reading “How not to read from your book”