Tom Vater is the author of The Monsoon Ghost Image, currently on an Internet blog tour.
Where are you from, Tom?
I was born and grew up in Germany, moved to the UK when I was 18, studied there and then lived in London for a decade. For the past twenty years I have lived in Asia, currently working as a correspondent in Thailand. But in fact I am rarely home, spend some 7 months on the road and have not been anywhere for more than three months since the early 90s. The road is mine.
Married with children, pets, or annoying roommates?
Living with my partner, a French journalist, in a huge, crumbling shop-house in Bangkok. .
Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?
I have published some 20 books to date, both fiction and non-fiction, almost all on Asian subjects, all through more or less traditional publishing channels. My four novels are currently out with Crime Wave Press, Asia’s only English language crime fiction imprint, part of which I own, though three of them were initially published by other imprints.
How long have you been a writer?
I have been making a living from writing since around 1997.
How long did it take you to write your first book?
The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, my first novel, took just six weeks to write. Took another six months to edit though. When the rights reverted back to me from the original publisher a few years back, I edited the text again, cutting 3000 words from the original manuscript. Since then, the book has been translated into Spanish and still sells surprisingly well in English.
Pantser or Plotter?
Depends on the book. My first novel was very tightly plotted. My most recent novel less so, but took even longer to edit.
Have you ever taken the NaNoWriMo Challenge?
What’s your favorite genre to write or do you only write in one genre?
Crime Fiction. I also write a lot of non-fiction, but when it comes to telling stories, crime fiction is my game.
What’s your favorite genre to read?
What are you reading now?
I read many, many articles every day from a wide spectrum of media sources. Part of my job. As for books, I read non-fiction on Asia and fiction of all kinds. I also read a lot of crime fiction manuscripts that my publishing imprint Crime Wave Press receives. Right now, I am reading Philip Kerr’s Prussian Blue. I recently read Bukowski’s Hollywood – bloody brilliant.
Favorite beverage to read with?
Freshly squeezed orange juice.
Where do you get the most writing done?
Anywhere. On the road, in my home.
Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?
I often live without it. I travel to very remote parts of Asia every year and weeks long absences from the Internet are most welcome. I don’t use smart phones. I won’t cry if the Internet collapses. It surely helps some people liberate themselves but overall it’s a bloody disease that zaps people’s energy, controls them, watches them and makes them more stupid.
What’s the inspiration behind your latest release? Who’s your favorite character?
As Crime Fiction Lover said, “Maier is a bold and brave hero.” Maier is my German detective anti-hero, main protagonist of three novels, The Cambodian Book of the Dead, The Man with the Golden Mind and now The Monsoon Ghost Image. In the latest title, out last month, Detective Maier finds himself in Thailand in the wake of 9-11, thrust into the heart of the United States’ War on Terror and the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. From Bangkok’s concrete canyons to the country’s remote jungles and hedonist party islands, Maier races against formidable foes to discover some of our darkest truths and to save his life into the bargain.
What’s your next project or release?
I’ve just completed a new short story called To Kill an Arab, which will be out early next year in a star-studded crime and horror anthology.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Few people read novels and few fiction writers make a living from their craft. Those who do are on the commercial, formulaic side of the industry spectrum. That doesn’t mean they are bad writers – Lee Child is bloody brilliant – but it does make for simplistic repetitive narratives, stories that comfort rather than challenge. Perhaps that’s the times we live in. People suffer so much anxiety and insecurity in their lives, they flock to books that offer answers and certainties. Writing books which run counter to these trends can be a lonely enterprise.
In any case, if you can afford the time and space, then just follow your heart and don’t worry about sales. If you write fiction, then there’s probably some unhealthy, deep-seated need in you to reflect on the state of things and you haven’t got any choice over the matter. Musicians, painters and photographers are also screwed in their respective collapsing industries. The age of the individual, the maverick, is over. Unique expression is often seen as a threat. But pragmatism is overrated, boring and will be the death of all of us, so let it all come down.
Thank you very much!
Dirty Pictures, Secret Wars and Human Beasts – Detective Maier Is Back To Investigate The Politics Of Murder
The third Detective Maier mystery is a taut and crazy spy thriller for our disturbing times.
When award-winning German conflict photographer Martin Ritter disappears in a boating accident in Thailand, the nation mourns the loss of a cultural icon. But a few weeks later, Detective Maier’s agency in Hamburg gets a call from Ritter’s wife. Her husband has been seen alive on the streets of Bangkok. Maier decides to travel to Thailand to find Ritter. But all he finds is trouble and a photograph.
As soon as Maier puts his hands on the Monsoon Ghost Image, the detective turns from hunter to hunted – the CIA, international business interests, a doctor with a penchant for mutilation and a woman who calls herself the Wicked Witch of the East all want to get their fingers on Martin Ritter’s most important piece of work – visual proof of a post 9/11 CIA rendition and the torture of a suspected Muslim terrorist on Thai soil. From the concrete canyons of the Thai capital to the savage jungles and hedonist party islands of southern Thailand, Maier and his sidekick Mikhail race against formidable foes to discover some of our darkest truths and to save their lives into the bargain.
Tom Vater has published four crime novels and is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based crime fiction imprint. He writes for many publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, CNN and The Nikkei Asian Review. He is a best-selling non-fiction writer and co-author of the highly acclaimed Sacred Skin. (www.sacredskinthailand.com).
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