Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a widely published journalist, writer and publisher, based in Asia for twenty years. I have written some twenty books, most of them non-fiction on Asian subjects, some of them bestsellers. Three of my crime fiction novels are currently published, with a fourth, The Monsoon Ghost Image, on the CIA's rendition program in the wake of 9/11, is in the works later this year.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest fiction title dates back to 2014, The Man with the Golden Mind, a spy novel set during and after the CIA's covert war in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s and was inspired by documentary on the same subject, The Most Secret Place On Earth, which I co-wrote a decade ago. A story of murder and deceit against a little known chapter of 20th century history, the biggest ever CIA action to date (that we know about).
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
It's hard to switch from non fiction to fiction. I need a buffer zone in between, ideally weeks or months….
I work best in the small hours.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Joseph Conrad, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Burroughs, Raymond Chandler, Katherine Dunn, Thomas McGuane, Paul Bowles, Charles Bukowski, Patricia Highsmith, Ross McDonald, Peter Matthiessen, Philip Kerr, Lee Child, Andy Rausch.
What are you working on now?
I have just completed the third and last Detective Maier mystery, The Monsoon Ghost Image, which will be published by Crime Wave Press in the fall. This follows The Cambodian Book of the Dead and The Man with the Golden Mind, published by Exhibit A and now reissued by Crime Wave Press. The three books follow a German detective on the trail of scarce or shady countrymen through Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The latest has Maier involved in the CIA renditions program following 9/11.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
The publishing industry is super dysfunctional and increasingly monopolized, but if the writing comes to you, then embrace it with everything you've got. As Michael Herr wrote as Willard, 'Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were goin' all the way.' That means what it says, do your own ting, and expect years of toil, isolation and despair shot through with moments of unearthly bliss. Good luck!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
What are you reading now?
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr. We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler, Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have updated three guidebooks this year. One of my illustrated books is about to go into second edition. I am flat out writing for clients such as CNN, The Telegraph and The Nikkei. But I will try and step back from the media gigs for a while later this year and reorient myself towards my next fiction.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Hard to say, so many – Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, the Chandler novels, Treasure Island by Stevenson, Burmese Days by George Orwell, The Quiet American by Graham Greene, Killing Mr Watson by Peter Matthiessen, Shoot The Piano Player by David Goodis, Death's Dark Abyss by Massimo Carlotto, Riding Shotgun And Other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch,
a German children's novel called Krabat by Otfried Preußler and so on…