Sunday, December 16, 2012

Signed Express


Asia Books at Emporium Bangkok have an eye-level display...All the independent bookstores in Pattaya are stocked. Bookazine, DK Books....

In the stores!!

I wrote some of Bangkok Express as far back as 2002. And now ten years later the book is finally in the stores.

It's Christmas!

For anyone wanting a signed copy delivered to their doorstop simply contact the author, that's me, at james_newman99@hotmail.com. I'll send you one for free. This offer is limited to the first TEN devoted fans (decadent fools, noir nocturnes, pulp purists...) who respond to my email address or on facebook or send a passenger pigeon with the letters BE branded on its rump.
God bless and merry Christmas.
James,
Bangkok Xmas. 2012.



Note Dec 28: Copies sent to MJ in Honk Kong, MS and VMS, TV and MS in Bangkok. TC in the States. UD in Mumbai. AS, AL and TT in London. Thanks and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Review from Japan based Mexican author Ismael 'Ish' Galvan.


Bangkok Express is a Bloody Good Ride November 23, 2012

By Ismael Galvan


Pulp writer James A. Newman gives us a guided tour into the criminal underground of Bangkok, Thailand in Bangkok Express. It's a tropical pulp fiction with an international cast of characters caught in a spider web of corruption, with coldblooded murder for cash at the center. Newman's depiction of Bangkok makes the city come alive in all its beautiful savagery. It is a strange place that is both burning with poverty and drowning with dirty money. There's no such thing as corruption in Bangkok. You either swim with the sharks or get eaten by piranhas. If you got no money, you'll get no mercy. Bangkok, baby, hope you're ready.

The book opens up with one of the most uniquely depicted murder scenes I've ever read. Newman portrays the act of murder in a way that I can only refer to as a work of art. It's a style in which panic, adrenaline, fear, and confusion exist in a vacuum. From the first chapter I knew I was hooked on this savage tale. This book is definitely a fast paced thriller, and the only time you ever get to relax is in some sleazy sex mall with Thai ladyboys offering a cheap walk on the wild side. Or perhaps you would care for a comfy couch, a little pipe perhaps? Fear in Loathing in Bangkok, why not? This book definitely has that Hunter Thompson "gonzo" quality.

I especially enjoyed the brand of characters that were caught up in the mix. Together they formed just the right formula for everything to go to hell in a hand basket. Put up a couple million British pounds up for grabs, and let the backstabbing begin. In some ways Bangkok Express is a bit of a demented comedy. There's some character dialogue that really captures the essence of dark humor that pulp fiction is loved for. How Newman's characters manage a good laugh with a gun shoved in their face is commendable. Although the plot can get a little tricky with so many players off completing their piece of the puzzle, the story stays tight and never becomes messy (that is until somebody's brain gets a bullet massage).

I'd recommend this book to all you crime lovers out there. All the sick minds that can appreciate murder with a little bit of irony sprinkled over it and a splash of tropical paradise. The book does push the cheese factor on a few occasions, but I guess things just have their own way of unfolding in Bangkok. Newman lives in Thailand; he's seen (and done) some stuff that we can only guess. It's that firsthand experience that gives Bangkok Express that genuine gritty authenticity. Sniff hard enough and you can suck in the smells of diesel fumes and fresh mangos, and have the pink glare of neon lights softly stinging your eyes. According to his bio on bangkokbooks.com, he's currently working on another book while awaiting the apocalypse. Now that's the kind of attitude that produces books worth reading.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sukhumvit Road. A Review.



















Having lived in Thailand - man and boy - for over twelve years, and having written about the city myself, for my money Sukhumvit Road by David Young is one of the most entertaining and rewarding reads set in the City of Sin. The novel centers around Bami, a bargirl who has more than a few admirers. These devotees include an alcoholic writer, a lapsed preacher, a hardened criminal, a hopelessly naive school teacher and a burnt out cynical Bangkok bar owner. These colorful characters all gravitate around Bami and her place of work - Sukhumvit Road. The place of dreams and nightmares. Trapped in their own suspended disbeliefs, private hells, lost in the mess they have orchestrated for themselves they all believe that she, Bami, just might be the answer to their prayers, dreams, bar fines...

As with much of Young's work the conflict is the cultural difference. Love and commerce. Money and hope. Us and them. The humor is often intelligent, sometimes slapstick, always amusing. The style is easy, light-hearted, fun. It is a page-turner. Nothing too heavy. I've reread the novel four or five times picking up something new each time.

What makes this book stand out among Young's others is one thing. One important thing. In this novel there is a fully developed antagonist - the bug-eyed Frye Frisk. The devil with a passport. The sex-pat tourist gone extreme. The kind of character that Dana could have written. Frisk is without a doubt the strongest character in the book. One that Sukhumvit Road homeboys can fully identify with. A masterful creation...

The novel at over 400 pages is Young's most adventurous work and I think by far his best.

Essential reading for those interested in the genre of Bangkok fiction.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brand Spanking Cover


New cover design is by Torrie Cooney. http://torriecooney.blogspot.com/

She read the first few chapters and got a feel for the book.

She asked me what I was looking for in a cover.

James Bond. Ian Flemming. I said, 1960s. I found some artwork on the internet to give her an idea.


Torrie took these images into consideration and created her own artwork based on the idea. She then worked with the publishers here in Bangkok to make sure the format fitted their requirements.

I'm very pleased with Torrie's work.




Thanks Torrie!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An interview with Chris Coles


Chris Coles is an American artist living in Bangkok. His work challenges the establishment in a kingdom obsessed with beauty, whiteness, and face. Chris paints the side of Bangkok that the politicians try to hide, or at least ignore. Chris Coles and his art will be appearing at the Foreign Correspondents Club, Bangkok on the 19th October. He kindly spared me some time to speak about his work.

JN: Chris, I admired your observations on the inter-war German expressionism art scene and feel Bangkok is lucky to have you here. Where did your interest in art begin? Which artist, if any, got the ball rolling?

CC: I've been interested in art probably since I lived in Vienna for about 6 months in the mid-1970's. Vienna has many wonderful museums and I remember wandering around looking at the huge Hiëronymus Bosch paintings, and the many paintings of other Vienna artists, Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Hundertwasser, and also a bunch of other Expressionist paintings by the German artists.....Vienna has a lively gallery scene too....altogether the entire central area of Vienna is kind of like a museum for Central Europe early 1900's.........


My favorite Expressionist artist is Emil Nolde and I studied his use of distortion and color very carefully....he painted many scenes of Berlin Nightlife early 1900's....later Hitler and Co took all of his work out of the museums and actually banned him from painting completely....friends used to smuggle small amounts of art materials to him and he would hide in a closet and paint little 5x7 inch watercolors for some years, later making some of them into large oil paintings.......but the little watercolors are fabulous, very dense and powerful...........I made "original" copies of many of them as a way to absorb his technique per following link:

http://chriscolesgallery.com/decadent_berlin_paintings.htm

I paint almost every day, sometimes large acrylics, sometimes smaller watercolors....almost all of my paintings start as small watercolors (as per Nolde who wrote that by starting with small watercolors, he never had a "block" as it was something that could easily be thrown away if it didn't work, whereas if he started a large oil painting, he would always be hesitant as the overall design and use of color, fearing to make a "mistake')..........I used to do quite a few pencil sketches and portraits of all the interesting faces that are wandering around Bangkok....not in an Expressionist style but more or less realistic style......some of them are quite good, but not as interesting as the Expressionist paintings which have a style and point of view.........

At the end of my working day, say around 10 or 11 PM, I go wandering around the Bangkok Night's various districts, gradually absorbing ideas and material......


JN: Vienna is my favourite city in the west. Not sure quite why, something to do with the layout of the city maybe. Interesting that you mention Nolde's technique of working from a small work and then using that to create a larger work. I know this is a technique you use yourself. When you venture out to do research, do you look for your subjects or do your subjects find you? This is a serious question. The characters in your works are almost always essentially flawed as human beings, or say, dogs. All art needs conflict. Bangkok is full of conflict. Is this conflict the essence of Bangkok noir?

CC: When I'm wandering around, some places I actually like or enjoy or see as well-staged, other places are a mess, badly designed, badly laid out, badly managed, badly staffed....but might be interesting or give me an interesting idea for a painting or mood or situation or character..........I might hang out in some place despite not actually liking it, might end up talking with people who I would never otherwise talk to, such as around Soi 3 and Soi Bin Laden/Grace Hotel......I'm kind of like a combination seagull-vacuum cleaner-anthropologist-spy, just collecting random bits of information, visual and otherwise, which then stews around in my mind in unforeseen ways and pops out ideas from time to time, either consciously or just in the process of painting stuff


JN: Mr Coles, you have worked in the movie business. Do you think there has ever been a great movie shot in Thailand?

CC: I can't recall any "Hollywood" film shot in Thailand that captures the excitement, depth and complexity of modern Bangkok or modern Thailand.....there have been a few films that have filmed their locations in Thailand for stories set not in Thailand but elsewhere, such as Vietnam War era films like THE KILLING FIELDS, HEAVEN AND EARTH, CASUALTIES OF WAR, etc.

In regard to Thai films, despite being hindered by draconian censorship rules such as no stories about corrupt police or officials (like L.A. CONFIDENTIAL or TRAINING DAY), no stories with too much sex (like DANGEROUS LIAISONS), no "wrong kind of stories" about politcs or Buddhism, there have been some interesting Thai films such as the 1st BANGKOK DANGEROUS, BEAUTIFUL BOXER, and others more recently.........(I'm not an expert on Thai films however so my knowledge is limited)


JN: I think Bangkok has such great potential as a backdrop to a crime movie. Christopher G. Moore's first detective novel seems to have optioned a couple of times. I think it is a matter of time.

CC: My first job in the movie industry was as New York Location Manager for Superman I with Chris Reeve and as someone with a lot of experience finding and shaping locations for movies, (LA STORY being a good example with its "Santa Monica/Nouvelle LA" look), I would say modern Bangkok is a fabulous location for films set in the modern present-day...........

The problem is the Thai film industry is severely hampered by state censorship by unimaginative bureaucrats (regardless of who is PM and which party is in power) and "Hollywood" only thinks of BKK in very cliched terms instead of as the huge multi-layered, diverse, complex very modern metropolis it has become.....

It should also be noted that the Thai state censorship applies to foreign films coming into Thailand regardless of whether or not they are intended for distribution in Thailand......so it severely limits the script/story potential of even a big Hollywood film coming into BKK............the script has to be submitted, it is censored then approved, then a state government official from the film board is on the film set to ensure the script submitted and approved is the same as the one that is being filmed.....the basic rules: no portrayal of police, army or government corruption, no unapproved mention or portrayal of the "power-relationships" that govern Thailand, no criticism or "negative" portrayal of Buddhism, limited sex/love scenes, etc.

JN: Thanks Chris for the interview. I love your work and look forward to the show at the FCC Bangkok on the 19th October 2012.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh, yes, vampires...


My Romanian and Eastern European fans will be glad to hear that I am branching out into vampirism. Canada’s Blood Moon Publishing have accepted my new vampire novel set in 1980s London. 'Itchy Park.' Here's a shot of Itchy Park in the East End back in the Victorian days. The setting for my modern age Jekyll and Hyde.

The story is about the tranformation of Frank Palmer: Virgin. Anxiety-driven. Bibliophile. Frank Palmer doesn’t have much going for him until one day he finds an old hardback inside an alligator-skin Gladstone bag. The book details the gruesome black magic rituals performed by occultist doctor and butcher Jack the Ripper. What if the spell was to be invoked one hundred years after the Whitechapel murders? What if Frank could too become a devilishly handsome predator of women?

"I decide on a red velvet smoking jacket and a pair of dark maroon kecks. Cliché, admittedly, but consider the fashion alternatives. If I were wearing a white tuxedo and sucking the blood of a young wench and the filth happened to be in the general vicinity then I would be liable to stick out like a hardworking ladybird perched on a pew in church on Sunday morning. If I were to wear all white imagine, my friends, all that kennetsseno rouge splashing out on those virginal pussycat white togs after a jolly good night’s fogging. Dark red burgundy be the colours, the camouflage, and the code of us bloody suckers.

I also carry a man bag. A dark shiny black Gladstone alligator skin hold-all, like a doctor’s bag. The contents of my bag are similar to that of an alcoholic’s kit. Mints, mouthwash, a bottle of gin and a packet of Fisherman’s friends. Last thing one needs is the long arm of the law appearing just after ones performance and said officer getting a whiff of the old kennetsseno rouge. General practice is to walk away from the scene after a swig of Gin and a couple of mints down the old cake hole. Just a harmless old alcoholic as far as the long arm be concerned..."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A review of Bangkok City by author Thom Locke


I just finished reading James Newman’s latest noir mystery Bangkok City. What a read!! James is obviously comfortable in the noir style and, because of this, the reader easily slides into the Bangkok James skillfully etches.

However Bangkok City is not a case of style over substance which all too often is the case with noir fiction. In James’ hands the style only serves to enhance a gripping plot. The character development is efficient allowing the reader to develop empathy here, a bit of disgust there, and overwhelming sympathy in one forlorn character.

The only criticism I can think of is with the title itself. Unfortunately the “Bangkok” theme has been plowed so thoroughly, mostly by hacks I might add, that James’ terrific piece of work may be ignored as just another attempt by a farang to describe the seedy aspects of Bangkok. Of course, Bangkok is so much more than that, and so is James’ gritty tale.

James Newman’s Bangkok City is available at www.bangkokbooks.com. Buy The Book!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012





Noir is the path of a man that is morally corrupt yet seeks to uncover the goodness in a world that is inherently bad. A Noir hero is not the perfect cop, the clean living heroine, the guy that wakes up in the morning and decides to be good because being good is all that he is good at doing. A Noir hero makes bad right by mistake. He operates in darkness , shaves in a broken mirror, wears heat in the pocket of a three-piece suit. He hates normality, drives a heap, and wishes he were just like you. He is Noir.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bangkok City. A Review by Tom Tuohy





A review of Bangkok City by Tom Tuohy author of Watching the Thais.



When a friend suggested I read James Newman’s new book, Bangkok City, I did so with a sense of trepidation. For one thing, despite 15 years in the Kingdom, I’d never heard of him. I’d read the better known expat writers of course, like C. G. Moore, Stephen Leather, Colin Piprill, and William Page, and I enjoyed their writing immensely.

I’d also assumed that James Newman’s genre was a mish mash of the usual sexpat genre that we see on many a book shelf in Kinokuniya or Asia Books: a staple diet of essentially the same tawdry story - overweight, divorced expat, seeks new life in Thailand, meets a bar girl half his age, falls in love, takes care of her family, till finally one day he wakes up realising he’s been fleeced of his savings and, with nothing left and having been shorn of the last vestiges of his self esteem, he throws himself off a condo in Pattaya.

I was wrong. James Newman’s writing is anything but tawdry or predictable. His characters are full of home spun wisdom and his sense of storytelling, including pace and characterization, is extremely good. His knowledge, not just of the way Thais think and act, but of the places they inhabit, mentally as well as physically, is unique among expat writers currently in the Kingdom. His ear for the subtle nuances of language, both in Thai and English, show a world that few expats ever see. His inside knowledge of Buddhism, Brahmanism, and the way both religions weave around the general, day-today Thai superstitions encapsulated in magic and doled out by the maw doos (psychics), is incisive and well researched.

Despite a few typos here and there, and the occasional structural flaw, his ability to construct a sentence and to add clever imagery also suggests he’s destined for greater things in the literary sphere. The Bangkok in Bangkok City is reminiscent of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The very notion of the city is shown for what it is: a repository of broken dreams and unquenched desires; a city populated by people who are not what they seem; corrupt cops, ex-Muay Thai boxers cum gangsters, spiritually and emotionally bankrupt expats, and fatally ambitious Thai hookers ready to sell their souls for the promise of a better tomorrow; a world that, were he still alive, Charles Bukowski would have recognised in all its tacky urban splendor.

With the exception of C. G. Moore and Rattavut Lapcharoensap, I think few have accurately depicted what it’s like to live in Thailand. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to discover the real underbelly of Thai living: a place where things can be had for a price, but not necessarily one worth paying; a place where you can enter into a Mephistoclean pact just as long as you know that when you reach the proverbial checkout counter, you may have to pay the ultimate price and give up the thing you value most: your very soul.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bangkok Transport Survival Guide.



Meter-taxis.

Does he know where he’s going? Does he even care? Sure he does. He's your friendly farang loving taxi driver. Just jump in and point to the meter. Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the Bangkok scenery crawl past for an hour or so before your driver admits he hasn’t the foggiest idea where you are. Last week he was planting rice in Surin. Now he's in Bangkok City. Pay the fare (with a generous tip ) and step out onto a strange street lined with stalls selling fried insects. There's a funky smell in the air. Don’t be alarmed. Just hold out your hand to the oncoming traffic. There are hundreds more clueless taxis itching to whisk you away and spit you out at your unintended destination. Repeat until intelligent driver found.

Tuk-tuk.

Tuk-tuk mister? Speak English? Only 20 baht? Where you want to go? Sexy lady? Now Happy Hour? Look only? Yeah. You have to love these guys. Great for tailor-shops, government gem stores or anywhere else the driver has a nasty little scam brewing. Don’t believe the temples are closed. They aren’t closed. Temples never close. Use Tuk-tuks only once. Take photograph. Post photo on facebook. And never use one of these two-stroke scamming pollution buckets again.

Skytrain.

Now we’re talking. Great for those that haven’t yet figured out the bus routes or enjoy travelling like cattle on the way to market. The views are great and the only way to travel lower Sukhumvit to Siam if you don’t have a more than a week to make the journey. Avoid use during sociable hours.

MRT.

Frighteningly modern. The rotfia shuttles beneath sin city with the precision of a polished lug through the barrel of a high-class bean-shooter. Climb down into the subterranean utopia. The London Tube this is not. Clean, precise, fast. Only the Germans could achieve such a thing.

Airport Link.

So modern. So clean. So smooth. How did they do it? Siemens again. So German. Over ten minutes wait between trains excludes this as a commuter option. But for getting into the city from the airport (what it was intended for) this is a thing of beauty. Just make sure your hotel is next to the airport link stop. I hear the Nasa Vegas is nice. Otherwise refer to the rest of this list and the best of British to ya.

Bangkok Buses.

Wow. What a network? Bangkok bus system reaches every nook and cranny in the city. The fast-track-training scheme for drivers gives Somchai from Ubon another chance in life. Last week he was driving an old beat up Honda wave and drinking white whiskey on the farm. He was thinking about suicide daily. Now he has a fast speed passenger vehicle and enough ya ba to propel him to work double shifts. Accidents? Pah. He fed a mangy soi dog some sticky rice this morning so there’s no way this love boat's gonna crash, baby.

Motorbike taxis.

An unemployable toe-rag buys a vest from the mob. Cost? anywhere from 1k to 500k. He joins the motorcycle taxi gang for life. You need to find out a bus route? Want to pay a bill? Deliver a package? Ask a motorbike taxi. You want to find out where the cheap accommodation is? Ask the dude in the orange vest. Motorbike taxis know everything. Everything apart from how to drive a motorcycle. Use only in emergencies and keep in mind if you do crash and need immediate medical attention you are in luck. A motorbike taxi is the only means of transportation that will get you to the emergency room with any chance of being alive on arrival, as long as you don't crash again, on the way.


Foot.

You. Are. Never. Safe. On. Foot. You see those black and white lines painted across the road? Now, they may look like zebra crossings. In fact they are designated suicide zones. Cross by all means, but don’t expect to live. See those red lanes painted on the sidewalk with pictures of bicycles painted on them? Those are motorbike lanes. In fact all sidewalks, pavements, and footpaths are motorbike lanes. Bangkok is the only city in the world where you can skilfully cross four lanes of traffic and make it to the pavement the other side of the road only to be mowed down by a Honda Wave 125cc.

River taxi.

Wet.

Conculsion.

Enjoy travelling in Bangkok. And when that bus races through lanes of traffic, narrowly avoiding collision at every jerk of the wheel spare a little thought. When that Tuk-tuk pulls a wheely in rush-hour traffic. When the guy in the orange vest doesn't have a spare helmet. Remember In Thailand death is not the end. It is simply the transition to a better life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

‘Please enter.’ She spoke English like she meant it. This was no sing-song Asian English. She had the phonetics down. Maybe she had been trained by a lover who ate the classics. Perhaps she had lived inside television and theater. It wasn’t the kind of English that you picked up in the bars. Her lips were a pale pink and her smile was the kind that woodland animals warmed to. Those critters jumped up into her arms and nuzzled her like she were the second coming. Shit. She was a deer watching the first winter snow. A puzzled fox. She had hair. Shit. She had long hair. Long lovely hair. Oceans of hair. Hair that clogged the bathtub and hair that garnished soup. Hair that flew in the wind and got stuck in the eyes of migrating swallows. She had hair. Joe stepped inside the joint and followed that hair. It was like walking into the house of fun. She half-turned: ‘My name is Carmen, pleased to meet you.’

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Christopher G. Moore. A Killing Smile.

Very much a book of its time A Killing Smile is both a work of fiction and a guidebook for those heading to the neon underworld of Bangkok's bar scene. Before the internet one had to turn to a novels like A Killing Smile to find out the juicy details about 'the scene'. The stuff that didn't make it into the guidebooks made it into works of fiction. The kind of information that may save a tourist from a broken heart, an empty bank account, or worse. Christopher G. Moore is the pioneer of Bangkok noir fiction. He has written about life and all her bruises in Bangkok for decades. A killing Smile is the book that got the ball rolling. Isaan b-girls, cutters, pissers, the scammers, the actresses. And their customers; lost alcoholics, grifters, chancers. Moore's writings are brilliant observations on the Bangkok nightlife and this one book is the benchmark that all other books on the Bangkok bar scene (including Christopher G. Moore's) have had to follow. It set the standard of an artistic movement: Bangkok Noir. US lawyer Lawrence Barings’ wife Sarah dies in an auto accident. Lawrence travels to Bangkok to find his old college pal Tuttle stagnating in the Bangkok bars. There are no great plot twists. Little action. But the novel makes up for this with its richness in characters, description, dialogue and most of all setting. The cast is fantastic. Crosby the English trust fund kid who grew up on hookers and darkness. Snow who wants to go up north with a box of New York magic tricks to become a Lahu Godman. The tussle between Lawrence's western lifestyle and Tuttle's expat existence frames the major conflict and theme of the book. The novel deals with cultural shifts, personal adjustments, death and acceptance. The novel is mainly written in third person, yet switches to second person to add descriptive depth. It also employs journal articles and letters. In many ways the novel was and is a creative triumph. It is a book I will read from time to time noticing something new each visit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bangkok Express. Character profile #4 - Franco

Backpackers changed their image and their philosophies more often than they changed their clothes. He opened the icebox and took another beer Singha. He swigged from the can and then put it down next to the Styrofoam boxes filled with the remains of breakfast. Chicken fried rice with a slice of lime. He wobbled slightly as he stepped over the equipment, closer to Alexandra. “It is okay to be sacred. Fear is natural, don’t be afraid of fear. Fear hates to be confronted. Look her in the eye,” Franco said. It was just the two of them. The American couple hadn’t showed up. Franco thought about cancelling the trip but Alexandra was cute and the long-tail was already booked. He stood up towering over Alexandra and began to check the equipment. Her naivety made him wise. Her weakness was his strength.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bangkok Express Character Profile #3: Carmen Collins

The lounge was narrow and deep with a bar all the way along one side and a glass front looking out onto the road. The broker entered the bar and placed a pile of files onto the table. She offered her hand. Joe shook it. She was cute. “Hi, my name is Carmen Collins.” She smiled and Joe felt a little lighter. She was half Latino, Spanish or Italian. She had a symmetrical nose that was so perfect it appeared synthetic. This nose sat above wide lips that parted to reveal a wide smile. She wore a full length beige winter coat with fake fur at the cuffs and collars. She looked like she had stepped out from the pages of a fashion magazine.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bangkok Express. Character Profile #2. James Hale.

The quickest and most dangerous way to the zone was by motorbike taxi. At night the traffic was manageable. Hale sat on the back of a motorcycle taxi and gave the driver directions. The rider sped between vehicles, weaved around danger with enough speed to keep his line, no hesitation, no mistakes, no fear. Hale trusted the rider. He knew how to ride – as they sped through the traffic Hale felt a Buddhist sense of calm. The channel between a public bus and a Japanese pick-up was there to be exploited. He held onto the back of the seat and watched the streets rush by; fruit markets, clothing stalls, jewellery stores, fortune-tellers, road-side bars and restaurants. The night hung over the city like an oily canvas. They arrived at the zone and Hale paid the rider and tipped him heavily. The rider had earned it, he was direct and honest. It was these small victories that kept Hale smiling in the land of scams.

Bangkok Express. Character Profile #1. Gantira

GANTIRA’S LONG hair framed a beautiful smile and a pair of brown eyes that rose upwards when curious and narrowed when angered or upset. She had thirteen different ways to smile and fewer than half of them meant happiness. She tiptoed around disputes where possible and let others dive into disasters if they chose to do so: it was the Thai way to do things. Her father had money and she had never been without him or it. Bangkok was her home town but she was just as happy on the island of Ko Samui where she lived with her millionaire husband Shogun. Yes she was a bird in a gilded cage. She could spread her wings and spend his money. Life could be worse for Gantira. Much worse. She could have been that poor Finnish girl that died that day on the island. Killing was easier than dying.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Lizards of Bangkok

An excerpt from my current work in progress. First draft. Johnny Von Hakett wakes up to find himself in a world full of lizard demons...




Her face blurred into some strange abstract expressionist oil by a drunken dead hand Johnny couldn’t remember the name of. Her words slowed and then sped up like playback on reel to reel. A strange unique language. Her prehensile tongue whipped out from the corner of her mouth and licked his eyebrow. Her face was now the dull green color of pea soup. Her lips were moving but the words were underwater. Her eyes slowly blackened to those of a reptile.

Johnny stood up on shaky legs and walked out of the coffee shop sweat soaking his shirt. He walked back along the zone, past invisible vendors and whores; once a world of mystery, now like a dull green undersea city. Atlantis. A glass of water held too tightly will never quench your thirst... All the drugs and alcohol took hold at once. Both impending doom and exquisite pleasure shimmied for success.

Johonny flagged down a passing green and yellow and collapsed into the back passenger seat. A window-washer approached the car. A green soapy liquid on the window and he began to wipe it with a rag. His face smiled behind the glass. Johnny knew he was one of them. He waved the kid away with a backhand gesture. The street kid disappeared in a flash. Fucking lizards. He got out of the cab. Underneath the bridge of the shanty town shops and houses were nailed together with pieces of four-by-two, corrugated iron and hope. Old men sat in rotten rags underneath the motorway bridge swearing at the oily river, the rice-whiskey and the vile stews that cooked on open fires. Canned heat and spiced rum. Across the labyrinth of lean-to shacks whores lounged in doorways and smoked cigarettes. They hatched plans, swapped tactics, ruined each other. Shop-houses, pharmacies, wig-makers, haberdashers, filthy restaurants and fortune tellers. Obsolete trades fronts for shady practices. Abortionists above dental clinics, money-lenders and betting shops above heaps of junk, broken televisions, transistor radios, dilapidated repair shop houses. Launderettes, Burmese labour brokers, English teaching agencies. Law offices run by the type of lawyer that you’d be happy to be cross-examined by, estate agents that sell properties that don’t exist. Money sharks, pet-shops, tailors and road-sign brokers. A monitor lizard sauntered across the river bank, splashed into the water and swam with its hideous head erect like a gruesome penis languidly panning from side to side.

Johnny kept walking in circles under the bridge. Back to where the beggars congregated, faces eaten up by unknown diseases; the mule-faced woman, pinhead, the dog-faced boy, The caterpillar man. The freaks from the street slept in rags forgotten and unloved by the city. The toothless blind beggar from downtown rambling about the impending apocalypse. Today is the day of reckoning. He held his hands together above his head, praying to the heavens. The heavens answered. Rain, slowly at first and then great torrents of water poured down on the city. The blind beggar smiled knowingly. Green rain. Johnny walked from under the bridge and into the emerald downpour. Past veterinary surgeries and massage parlours, wedding outfitters, electrical repair shops. A feral dog walked up to a wall and cocked his leg, pissed a stream of green urine, it ran down into the river that ran by oily and dark emerald green shattered by the rain. Shanty houses made of jungle hardwood stood on stilts above the waters.

The night sky was as dull as it was violent; orange and yellow storm clouds, like Brueghel’s Triumph of the Dead. Slowly at first, a flash of green in a pedestrians’ eye. A whore’s tongue whipped out of her mouth and then back again like a salamander’s. The crash of thunder was followed by flashes of lightening from the heavens. The city lit up and then fell back to darkness.

An old lady stopped by a streetlight under a plastic shop awning, beckoned to Johnny to stand next to her. He walked over. Johnny couldn’t understand the words. Her syllables were a rapid jabber, impossible to decipher. He tried to follow the monologue before realizing the noises were unlike any language he had heard. She looked at him with a cold intensity. Her hand touched his with cold lank fingers, a terrible smell as she breathed over him. Her hands reached up to her face and her tongue whipped out from her mouth. A dull groaning sound as her head slowly elongated into a reptile. The lips pulled back to reveal rows of broken black teeth. The legs began to lengthen, the arms shrank inwards. Fingernails transfigured into claws. Skin into scales. She shed her hair, strands of silver blew away in the wind. The body grew green. Skin scaly and cold. Her voice sped up into a shrill chattering. She looked at Johnny with deep pity. The rain water was slippery as he ran. They were changing. Everywhere. He slipped and stumbled to the ground.

The world turned green.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Word Play 2012

I'll be at the Nelson Hayes Library Bangkok tomorrow for the word Play 2012 literary festival. David Young and Dean Barrett along with many other writers will be giving talks on the Bangkok / Asia novel. Should be an interesting event.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newman's story Ravana in FFJ Anthology 03



FFJ Anthology vol. 03
By Freedom Fiction Journal Vol. 03
View this Author's Spotlight

Paperback, 196 pages
Price: $14.50

In this third Annual Anthology we have 19 spectacular tales awaiting your pleasure in this book. As with every year of our existence, we have grown in both quality and quantity of genre fiction short stories. This is our largest and best anthology to date. FFJ provides an eclectic mix of fiction from varying genres in short stories. FFJ is listed in both Ralan.com and Duotrope.com literary guides and meets their guidelines to be listed in their respective websites. We have contributions in fiction and/or art from diverse countries such as: USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Israel, Philippines, Thailand, India, etc. We at FFJ enable sharing of thoughts and expanding of horizons. We also nominate stories for the Pushcart Prize every year. Please do also check out the previous two annual anthologies (vol. 01 & vol. 02) available at www.lulu.com or at the "Support FFJ" section of our website www.freedomfiction.com

An eclectic mix of all flavours of genre fiction

The very best of fiction from 2011 now on sale online. A grand compilation of 196 high quality 8.5 inch × 11.0 inch pages containing 19 spectacular tales that will entertain you every time you pick it up.

Contents:

“Trash*Can*Sam*” by Chris Castle
“Speech Bub” by Chris Castle
“How Do You Say This In Russian?” by Alexandra Burt
“According to Lizzy” by Aloysa
“Quit” by Jon-Paul Stracco
“Jury” by Jim Spry
“They Call Me Madman” by Andrew Bud Adams
“The Eye Of The Beholder” by Rob Ambrose
“The Thunderbird” by Emal Rustemi
“Vanguard” by Sam S. Kepfield
“Jackson Jones: PPI” by Nicholas Coriz
“Ravana” by James Newman
“Cleaning Man” by Tom Larsen
“Playmates” by Thomas Cannon
“I, Sita” by Shefali Choksi
“That Holiday Newsletter” by Diane Arrelle
“Last Bus To Home Planet” by Ujjwal Dey
“Beginners” by Chris Castle
“Voodoo Radio” by Chris Castle