Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
BANGKOK: Well, as a place to live, it is undoubtedly the most cheerful big city on earth. The Thai people somehow ingest the heat, the gasoline fumes, the permanent Gordian knot of traffic, the heartbreaking poverty, and through some form of internal alchemy turn it into broad, beautiful smiles and almost infinite compassion for the befuddled, sweating Westerner in their midst. (It's also the world's best restaurant city right now.)As someone who has lived part of each year in Bangkok since 1981 and has set three fact-based thriller novels in the city - including A Nail Through the Heart, The Fourth Watcher, and the just published Breathing Water - I know that as a setting for fiction, it's inexhaustible. It is, as Maugham famously said of Monaco, a sunny place for shady people. (read on ...)
Tim Hallinan learned the hard way about finishing a novel. Before becoming a published novelist, as he explains on his website, he had started three novels, but finished none of them, when his house burned down, destroying all of his manuscripts. "Naturally," he writes, "I had backups of all my unfinished novels, and naturally, they were all in the house. I had a life-changing revelation: if I had finished those books, they'd probably exist somewhere - in print, or at a publisher, or in a box in the garage. And then I had a second revelation: whatever I was, I wasn't a novelist, because I hadn't finished a novel."So I made some notes on the book I remembered best, flew to Thailand, and wrote the whole thing in seven weeks. And it got me an agent, and then a three-book contract, which led to another three-book contract, etc. In other words, finishing the book turned me into a writer." (read on ...)