Sunday, December 13, 2015

List for 2015/16

Asked recently what I have written and have out there in cyberspace I realized I need an updated list. So here it is. There may be some I've missed out but I think this more or less covers the last five or six years of struggling with sanity.

Thanks to all of you for reading, stay good, and best seasons greetings from here in sunny Bangkok...


MEAT– September 2009- 69 Flavors of Paranoia
CARMEN– March 13th 2010– Freedom Fiction Anthology Vol: 1
KIM– April 2010– Scalped Magazine
RAVANA– February 2011 – Freedom fiction journal
CLEAR– March 2011– Freedom fiction Anthology Vol: 2
THAILAND AFTER DARK– Bangkok Book House– August 2011
TWO LUMPS AND A PAIR OF GLASSES- Big Pulp Magazine- March 2013
THE COLD SUN- March 2014- Twisted Tales
PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY- Exiles Anthology-2014- Blackwitch Press
THE FAST RATS- 2014- Strange Story Saturday
GHOST HIT - 2014 -Freedom Fiction
UNDEAD CARGO - 2014 - Spanking Pulp Press.


BANGKOK EXPRESS– August 2010- Bangkok Book House
THE BOY THAT PLAYED CHEQUERS- August 2011- Fried Fiction. Serial.
BANGKOK EXPRESS- Revised 2012 edition. Books Mango.
LIZARD CITY- 2012- Books Mango / Spanking Pulp
THE WHITE FLAMINGO- Spanking Pulp Press 2013
THE BLACK ROSE- Spanking Pulp 2014
ITCHY PARK- 2014- Double Dragon. Blood Moon Publishing.
FUN CITY - Work in progress.


THAI MEDITATIONS (As James Alexander) – September 2010– Bangkok Book House


TRIPLE WEIRD - Spanking Pulp Press
TRIPLE ZOMBIE - Spanking Pulp Press
EXILES - Black Witch Press
BIG PULP - Matter of Storage - Big Pulp Press


THE WHITE FLAMINGO (commissioned 2015)
FREAK MUSEAM (Spec script. Work in progress)


THE NATIVES (With Tom Earls 2013)



Here's a link to the Amazon author page.

And here's a link to the Goodreads Author page.

Extending best wishes into Christmas and the New Year!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Skateboarding in London and Memories of a Vacuum Cleaning Kind.

VAX was the king of the acid drop. A stunt performed by rolling your skateboard off a high ledge, keeping the board parallel with the street, and landing with ankle crushing glory on unforgiving concrete.

Does anyone acid drop anymore?

Seems so 1989 somehow.

The South Bank and Waterloo, where we smashed our trucks and wheels and chipped our decks as the homeless screamed and cursed and shouted at us through their mid-morning super-strength cardboard city deliriums.

Cold winds across the Thames, a sandwich at the Greek place where the owner challenged a gang of hoods who were robbing us of what we cherished most; our boards.

The Southbank where the city installed metal barriers blocking our terrain and in response we built a ramp from plywood liberated from a nearby building site thus defiantly grinded their metal barriers. Yes. The Southbank: The mecca of theatre, music, dance, the home of performance art.

 That was our place: Southbank.

VAX earned his moniker through sponsorship with the vacuum cleaner manufacturers who mass-produced the almighty VAX cleaning machine. Some of us had sponsors from local skate shops, some were skating for Deathbox, the British board makers, but most of us were doing it because we needed the discipline of learning an art and our homes and schools were for the most part unwelcoming.

We never questioned why a domestic cleaning firm would sponsor a thirty-odd year old skateboarder. Why should we?

Rule number one?

Never question the street.

Watch VAX go.

The ledge, the height of a man’s head, above a flight of fifteen or so stairs at the Shell Centre Waterloo, VAX wearing his battered T-shirt bearing the logo of his sponsor, rolls, teeth gritted, reaches the edge, drops... Time stands motionless as he falls, knees bent slightly, eyes perfectly focussed, the sound of victory as his slime ball wheels hit the concrete and that beautiful whoosh of poetry in motion as he propels forward. Us unruly teenagers stop grinding our respective lips to clap and cheer “Go VAX! Yeah!”

The truth, as every unruly schoolboy knows, is that the acid drop is the first trick any skate kid learns, it is as easy as falling off a log, or rolling off a kerb. Any fool can do it. A brutishly simple trick, moreover a waste of a good ledge potentially decorated with the skill of an ollie impossible, the verve of a flip, or indeed the arrogance of a melancholy mute grab; the tricks we were mastering were complex.

So why cheer VAX?

Perhaps VAX didn’t pose a threat to us? Maybe VAX would never be in the pages of R.A.D or Skateboarding, were we humouring an older man living out some deluded dream? Were we taunting him?

No it wasn’t that.

The trick that we were applauding was not the acid drop it was VAX’s life choice. VAX, the same age as many of our fathers, had made a decision not to conform, not to be one of suit wearing dudes who looked down on us as they lost their hair in upmarket bistros choking down watercress salad and studying the Financial Times.

VAX was never going to be one of those guys, he was cut from different cloth. VAX knew that the City would one day fall. VAX was living the life he wanted to live.

VAX took chances, snaked around the streets, made his own agenda.

Years later I'd got the suit and tie job and the house in the suburbs, slumped on the sofa watching some brain numbing crap there's a knock at the door. Some old fool selling cleaning equipment door to door.

After closing the door a thought occurred.

No it couldn't be.

Could it?

I opened the front door a crack and took another look...

A traveling salesman skated away...

The Beat Goes On

Thursday, September 3, 2015


DESTINATION THAILAND and BANGKOK POST TV are showing series of television interviews with writers and creative expats based in Thailand. Hosted by Keith Nolan, one of Bangkok's finest musicians the show is set to feature Christopher G. Moore and many others soon.

I happened to be the first person to be interviewed for the show. You can see the interview on several cable channels in Thailand over the next week or watch the interview by clicking the link below....

EDIT/ UPDATE. September 2016. Since first airing the Beyond The Lines show has now interviewed many more wirters based in Bangkok including Dean Barrett, John Burdett, Joe Cummings, Christopher Moore, Hugh Gallagher, Tim Hallinan, Jim Newport, and Jake Needham.

The Beat Goes On.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Nun with the Polaroid Camera

"Excited about my new life the pedal hits the boards."



1,000 WORDS


DAD’S CAR could take no more. Slam the V6 round 90 degrees into main-street, the traffic cop a memory now, stewing in his stomach acids, slumped by the zebra crossing, his shirt and face covered in blood, his face splattered and cracked like a watermelon, his brain matter mixing with the cerebral-spinal fluid, a mix of greys and crimsons, an unforgettable green sludge flickering under those forever unforgiving blinking neon lights. You should have seen it, baby, but I have to get away, and away I do in Pop’s big deadly hunk of Japanese metal, through the night, through the City, the broken orange peels, condoms, hypodermics, through the diseases, the cures, the hatred, broadsided barbarians bivouacking under the oily blue tropical night, a teenage girl holds an otter on a leash… Beyond and between the dead machine blinking one, two, three...

Did she see the license plate?


The nun.  

The night sky starless – all the stars are on the streets sparkling with the twilight of infinite despair; impossible transsexuals strutting past drunken comedians, omnipresent cyber hookers looking for the dollar connection, the neon circus, the Red Night Zone, steering the black killing machine towards the Beach. Excited about my new life the pedal hits the boards.

How far I’d come.

A killer on the run, sweet sixteen, baby, sweet sixteen.

Did she see my face?   

There’s a chick riding shotgun wearing a tiny silver dress and boots like she just raided the wardrobe from Barberella. Hair peroxide blonde she’s sucking a star-shaped lollipop, says to me, sucking,   

“I think we should go back.”  

“You’re crazy,” I said.

 And she was.

A nun with a Camera.
I met Natalie in a two-bit shopping mall thinking her outfit would explode to dust. Then it did. Plates flew and waiters fainted, diners battled with chopsticks to get to her... Women covered their children’s eyes. Men quit their jobs and switched careers. The shopping malls were divided into those who admired her beauty and those who resented it. Small armies were organized and families divided. Anarchy erupted in the city while Natalie oblivious to the power at her disposal sat staring at the sashimi boat. Empires fell and new religions founded. Statues were built and demolished, history books written, rewritten, a short running cable television show starring the nearest facsimile to Natalie that could be found by a group of metrosexual auteurs with unlimited contacts and budgets. This and much more would happen, shortly after the fall of several empires and just before the final Armageddon, which would be named by visiting aliens as the Fall of Natalie.

“He might die,” Natalie said bringing me back down to the driving seat with the sound of plastic on leather.

“Did she see us?” I asked her as the neon night flashed by.


“The Nun with the polaroid camera?” The nun was right there in front of the wheels after we hit the traffic cop. How could Natalie not of seen her?  “How could you not see her?”

“What nun?”

“You didn’t see the nun? Black and white costume, big old Polaroid in her mitt. She stood in the road, I took her out after plowing down the cop. Imagine that, Law and Religion in one hit.”

“I didn’t see no nun, you’re crazy,” she said. Natalie wasn’t the only one who thought so, family got me analyzed by a shrink who told me I was incapable of empathy yet needed to ask me how that made me feel. Go figure. 

“But you saw the Cop?”

“Yes, we should go back,” her face reminded me of a cat. They had nothing to offer but their company and would split for a better saucer of milk any old day of the week.

You’re crazy?

Maybe so, but I kept driving through the night towards the Beach. The night was slipping into dawn, the red glow peeping above the horizon. I had a vague idea of driving the bucket out of town and switching it for another heap and doing this state by state until we reached another weather system and another time of day. I looked old enough to sit in a bar or rent a motel and with Natalie beside me, I looked older than sixteen. My folks would be happier shot of me, maybe I’d come back when the heat had died down. Get a regular job, a dental plan, see a shrink and work out how to separate the pepper from the mouse shit. As long as the nun didn’t clock me with her camera we had a fighting chance.

Blue and red lights blinking.  

A siren.

I’d killed one of theirs and it obviously meant something to them.

Drove parallel to the beach and feigned taking a left towards the mountains, took the third one, throwing the V6 up the beach road and opening her up, three black and whites snapping at the tail. Cop passenger shouting in a radio, backup no doubt.

Cop killer on the run.

Way to go, punk.

Guessed they had the top road blocked. Guess I’ll have to punch through the blockade. Alive they would tear me to pieces.

The exit is in sight.

Motorcyclists swerve out of the path, the V6 plows into a row of market stalls, for a moment the air is filled with grapefruit, pineapple, you name it, sliced and diced.

Approach the blockade, a cop car blocks the exit. Decide to drive through it, Natalie screams, tries to grab the wheel. I hold her face and kiss her mouth as we arc into the morning sky twisting and spinning above the blockade.          

The car rolls three times and lands on the roof, Natalie isn’t breathing, blood drips from the corners of her mouth, the make-up glitter she had applied to her cheeks now looks almost pathetic, like coloring pencils on a dead doll. The first shards of cold morning sun shines through the shattered windscreen and throws spikes of light at her pale baby-doll-like-face. I climb out of the wreckage and there she is standing in front of the cops who seem unaware of her presence.

Who's she? 

The Nun with the Polaroid camera looks at me directly.


As she takes my picture I fall to the ground and the blackness swallows the world.  


Tuesday, June 16, 2015


JAMES NEWMAN catches up with MARC SORONDO to chat about fear, books, Big Foot and the new SPP book:TRIPLE WEIRD for sale RIGHT HERE

JN: Marc Sorondo, what scares you?
The NEW triple.
MS: In the sense that there are two kinds of fear, I'll give two answers to that one. On the one hand, my mundane fear is failure. I think that's one that drives a lot of people, especially creative people. You want to be understood and to have your work appreciated, and you worry that it'll never happen. Deep down you worry that you’re sort of a fraud and a hack. Then there are those fears that are irrational but unshakeable. As a kid, I was both obsessed and terrified by the idea of alien abduction. Everything about it - the powerlessness of the people involved, the strangeness of their claims, how truly 'alien' those beings seemed - it was all really scary, but that just made me want to read every book about it and watch every episode of Sightings and the X-files and whatnot that I could find on TV. 

JN: Waking up homeless next to a corpse scares me – hence the story in Triple Weird Collection. Stuff seen out of the bus window at 5am scares me. I once saw a body being thrown into a garbage truck while passing an outdoor food market on a bus. What's the weirdest thing you've seen, Marc?

 MS: Well, I can't compete with seeing a body being dumped. I'll preface my answer by saying that I don't buy in to supernatural stuff. I wish it were all true, as I think that world would be way more interesting, but there's just not enough evidence for the vast majority of it to believe it. That being said, I have sort of a knack for stumbling onto weird tracks in the snow that a more gullible person would take as evidence of something uncanny. I'll give you two of the better examples: When I was a kid (middle school) a friend and I found two huge footprints in the snow in front of his house. They looked just like the old tracks people used to photograph in the Himalayas as evidence of the yeti. While I love the idea of Bigfoot stalking around suburban New Jersey, I don't actually think that was the case. 

Big Foot. Yesterday
 Years later, a friend and I were walking home from a party. It was about 3 in the morning, town was deserted, and it had started flurrying a bit earlier. There was a very thin layer of snow on the ground. We were passing through a park when we came across a single, perfectly-formed hoof-print on a path that was otherwise pristine before us. Again, I don't believe this, but at the time a small, drunken part of me really hoped I'd meet the devil at the crossroads and that he'd have a deal for me. 

 JN: I have a copy of "A Field Guide to the Larger Land Mammals of Nepal" and the Yeti is in there complete with illustration. Perhaps the writer had seen something similar....

 MS: Sounds like American cousin perhaps?

JN: What were you reading as a kid, Marc?

MS: Initially I read a lot of nonfiction. My parents were great about bringing me to the library a lot as a kid, and I was always drawn to the 000 section, the books on the paranormal and cryptozoology and whatnot. Those early interests have clearly had an effect on my writing as an adult. 

King. Recently.

I did read a lot of fiction also. I discovered Stephen King really early and have been a huge fan ever since. One of my favorite stories about school as a kid involved King's The Stand. Everyone in my fifth grade class was supposed to read a book on their own, mostly at home (although occasionally we'd have time to read in class). You should have seen the look on my teachers face when I pulled The Stand out of my backpack. She actually made my mother come in about it. My mom approved, however, so there wasn't much the teacher could do about it aside from ask me not to bring the book in to school anymore. 
JN: What were you reading as a kinda young adult early twenties guy?

MS: I do still love King, but my reading habits expanded as I got older. I read a fair amount of stuff in translation. I went through a bit of a Russian phase (some Dostoevsky, Bulgakov), and then read some Umberto Eco. At the same time, it was only when I got into college that I started to go back and read the classics in the genres that I liked. I went back and read Dracula, Frankenstein, and Jekyll and Hyde (the big three of horror, in my opinion), as well some more modern but still "classic" writers, like Lovecraft. I also went back and read some early sci-fi (Wells, especially). 

Lovecraft. Recently.
My nonfiction interests expanded at about the same time. I started reading "more respectable" stuff - though I still enjoy the occasional paranormal study. I read a lot of history and science books. My interests there vary wildly - I'll read a lot about prehistoric man, oceanography, paleontology, cartography, etc.  

JN: We at SPP are compiling two volumes of your short stories for publication – Bad Dreams and False Memories – and The Curious Case of Robert Dayton is our lead story in the Triple Weird Spanking Collection out today. I must say I love your craftsmanship at the shorts. They’re all terrific. What is it about the short story form you like so much, and who do you think are the greatest writers in that discipline? 


MS: Thanks. I'm really pleased to have those collections with SPP. I couldn't think of a better home for them. 

It sounds sort of ridiculous, but I love short stores because they're short. I'm one of those writers that believes that every story exists as something other than just a person's ideas. There's a right way to tell it and whatnot. That means that some stories are meant to be told in a few thousand words. Anything more is to add filler and garbage. When a short is done right, it's the perfect length for an idea that is worth telling but doesn't warrant being blown up into a novel. There's also the added benefit that a short story is a smaller commitment for a reader. At this point, with so many people being so short on time, I'm actually surprised that we're not in a more of a short story Renaissance. You'd think people would embrace shorts as a great solution to their limited time. 

As mentioned, I'm a fan of King's, and I've read most of his short stories. I loved Barker's Books of Blood when I read them. He's less of a household name, but Peter Crowther has written some really interesting stories. I'm a sucker for locked room mysteries (I can't write them. I've tried, and my mind is just not suited for coming up with those sorts of puzzles), and Edward Hoch wrote so many great ones. If, however, you put a gun to my head and told me I had to choose just one author to name as the master of the short story form, I'd have to give it to Bradbury. Everything the man wrote was poetry, from his shortest shorts to his novels. His shorts are all so loaded with imagery and, in spite of the fact that he works within the horror and science fiction genres most of the time, his stories are virtually always about stuff that people can really relate to. It's been overused to the point of being cliché as an example, but his very famous "Rocket Man" story is an obvious case of a science fiction tale that's easily relatable to anyone with an absent father, while also being relatable to anyone who never feels settled where they are. All of the characters in that story are so simple and yet so rich and fully formed and real. That's a famous case, but so many of Bradbury's shorts are that way. 

JN: Great to have you with us, and with a bit of luck this Bradbury interview should play on the blog...



JN: What's next on the cards for Marc Sorondo?

MS: That is a great interview. You've got to love anyone that can declare himself a madman with such pride. 

I seem never to have a really good sense of what's next in life. My "five year plans" never play out as intended. That being said, I am working on a Ph.D. I've just finished the last of my coursework, and I'm moving into a pure research phase of things. A lot of the stuff I study winds up in my stories, so my research interests, while academic, tend to be a bit dark. I look a lot at how science has been used for terrible purposes: as propaganda and as a way to label people and dehumanize them, as a justification for all sorts of atrocities.

Sorondo. Today.
As far as the writing goes, there are a few projects that I'm working on and a few that I know I'd like to start working on. Grad school has slowed my writing down a lot, but I've got two series that I work on whenever I get the time. One is firmly in the fantasy genre. I've got a draft of the first book and a good bit of the second finished. I envision two more books in the series (along with occasional short pieces set in that world). I am also always working on my Aedan Halloway character. That's a project that won't end for a very long time. He's a character based on my son (my fictional vision of him as an adult). I'm always working on one of those stories as well. I also have the notes for a bunch of shorts that have been bouncing around in my head just waiting to be written and a few longer projects that I just need the time to sit down and crank out. 

 JN: Wish you luck with everything new and thanks so much for dropping by.

MARC SORONDO is the author of AURORA which can be bought  HERE

A review on Amazon...

As a small press owner and publisher, it's been my pleasure and privilege to work with some fantastic new writers, and Marc Sorondo is one of them. I approached 'Aurora' knowing I wouldn't be disappointed, and I was right. Sorondo has an amazing ability to write comfortably in seemingly any genre, and while I've worked with him primarily in the horror genre, this little piece of sci-fi brilliance had me from the beginning and didn't let go until the end. There are some pleasant hints of the speculative fiction of the late Michael Crichton in this, but beneath the science is Sorondo's deep connection with his characters, his love for his characters--good and bad--that makes his writing so good.

'Aurora' is sci-fi, spec-fic, and a little romance all in one package, from a writer who has done his homework and whose name I truly believe deserves to become a household one in popular fiction.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Nepal Earthquake

You can leave Nepal but Nepal never lease you. I first visited Kathmandu as a twenty-four-year-old backpacker traveling up from India. I used a notebook rather than a camera in those days. Here is my notebook entry for my first morning in Nepal.
Katmandu. December 9th 2001.  

This is where the streets wind and entwine in a crazy pattern lit by amber lanterns and lined by spit roasting wild boars faces alight with a final farewell grimace. The Nepali vendor smiles, knife poised in black ski gloves cuts a slice of the rotating meat, wraps it between newspaper and serves it to a stumbling passerby, the ear flaps on the customers hat acting as blinkers as he bites. The array of shops catering for adventure, mountain boots, sleeping bags, ski polls, heavy jackets, hats with flaps and cannabis resin. The hotel had a roof top garden where I eat a breakfast of toast and tea with a hint of lemon, scanning the hazy skyline, the eagles circle in the valley surmounted by the mighty Himalayan mountain range. Bicycle taxis in the streets below race through traffic, children scream and cheer, playing ballgames in the courts and gardens surrounding the temples. The Mountain air blows southerly from Tibet as pray bells ring out above a wireless radio humming and coughing static from the kitchen.

I visited again in 2008 and walked into the office of Thili Sherpa who rolled out the maps and named a price that was much lower than any other guides had quoted. He answered all my questions patiently and politely. In hindsight I was being over cautious and acted like a bit of a dick, but like all good strong Buddhists he was noble and honest and great fun as he guided My friend Stuart and myself through the mountains and jungle.

We stayed in touch ever since. Last year Thile asked if my family were ready to trek in Nepal. I explained that the youngest seven-year-old would probably tire quickly. "Don't worry, I will carry him," Thili said. The funny thing is, he meant it.

In April this year the first quake hit Nepal claiming the lives of almost nine thousand and injuring many more. The natural disaster has displaced over half a million people. When the second quake hit in the Dolakha region Thili asked for help. His family home had been destroyed.

I decided to start a fund to try and help. Thili would have done the same for me. We need to try and hit a modest target before wiring over some funds direct to the cause. I'm not a big fan of NGOs and the culture that has become so I'll be sending money raised straight to the guy I trust on the ground, Thile Sherpa.

First consideration is getting food and proper shelter for the children in the region and then trying to rebuild things to a semblance of how they once were.

I intend to host a series of events to give readings, performances, singings and book giveaways in Thailand to help this cause. Anyone that can come along, please do so, even if you don't wish to contribute, enjoy the music, literature and art. If you have a similar idea in another country, why not make it happen?

If you can't be present but wish to contribute in some other way please let me know by email, facebook or phone, or drop a message to this post.

Author David Philips has contributed his royalties from his book Battleship Run. I've put my ebook and audio book royalties into the pot so we have made a good start!

First event is called Night of Nepal and will be held at the checkinn99 on Sukhumvit Bangkok, between sois seven and five on the 14th June, 2015. It's a Sunday evening from 5pm, after the free jazz session.

The beat goes on.

James Newman.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Case of Noir and Vortex

A Case of Noir
Paul D. Brazill
With Lite Editions.

Paul D. Brazill’s world here is one of peroxide Berliner blondes wearing PVC raincoats with blood red lipstick smeared across their lips.  Barbarous gangsters and shyster scam artists, drunken literary agents and pop producers shelter in cities ruined by war and Vodka, drenched by decadence, spent of hope, driven by desire. Here we meet protagonist Luke Case who is drifting on a stream of booze and loose women from Poland to Madrid to Granada to London and then Cambridge  where he finds himself at a well observed and illustrated literary crime festival - the majority of the guests seem to  be enthusing over something called Nordic Noir – whatever that was.
Pic from
Witty observations, a shady past, and a name that  conjures up images of coffee and nuts. Sly references to Molly Drake and The Last Words of Dutch Schultz keep things interesting plus of course the use of FADE IN FADE OUTS, camera directions... These are welcome  touches.
Bleak yet humorous landscapes fertilized with witty dialogue and sewn up with spare descriptions. Brazill doesn’t waste words, instead he plays with the images they provoke and he has more ways to describe a hangover than there are ways to create one - Shards of sunlight sliced through the slats in the blinds, like a kick in the eye from a stiletto heel.
My only reservation was later in the book backstory was explained perhaps for those who hadn’t been paying attention or maybe the stories were written separately and then later welded together.... Either way it read like a slight slip in confidence in an otherwise bold journey .    
It matters not really for this is a great slice of Noir from an assured talent. Brazill is to crime fiction what a Guinness and Champagne is to a cocktail party.
I read A Case of Noir twice in one sitting. Recommended dark Euro sleaze for lovers of the black stuff and on Amazon HERE Or visit the author HERE  


Matt Carrell.
With Linden Tree

A few pages in there was no turning back from Vortex. Guess there was a clue in the title. Carrell understands the need to raise stakes and build tension to keep the reader hooked in this accomplished novel which I'll loosely describe as a financial thriller set in a tropical locale.
We follow the building and eventual collapse of a branch of an investment bank in the Far East. Most novels should have an overall message and the message that settles after Vortex has fallen is something along the lines of - Trust No One.
This is a story of greed and deceit in the shady world of investment management. A world that the author obviously knows well. Well enough to detail an elaborate scam unfold from cradle to grave. People get hurt, careers ruined, relationships faked and drugs taken... The prize of one billion dollars sits before the winner proving if any proof be needed that the greed for hard currency is indeed at the root of all evil. Vortex is described as a whirlpool  - get too close and you get drawn in and thrown to the depths of the ocean. This a page turner and once you're in, you'd better have a few spare hours. 
If I were to be picky I might say that the book can give too much information at times. This is, however, a problem with crime novels when they are based on politics, law or in this instance, finance. Too much technical details needs to be explained to make the story legit....Slip the information into dialogue and it would read like the script for a made-for-TV-movie.
Carrell has made a brave choice to inform in narrative which he does without devaluing the story. What we have here is not only an entertaining yarn but also an informative look at the world of corporate investment slugs and a peep into how and why capitalism often fails all but the super-rich.       
Look forward to reading more from the author starting with the football book A Matter of Life and Death. You can find Vortex HERE and visit the author HERE

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Battleship Run. An interview with the author David Phillips.


LIKE LA poet and author Charles Bukowski, David Phillips worked for the United States Post Office. Unlike Bukowski Phillips served in the US military. He repaired small firearms for almost 13 years, as a hobby, he claims..

In Webster City, Iowa he constructed horse stalls and developed ground-breaking animal feeding devices. He organized accounts for magazine publishers in Boone Iowa and wrote Battleship Run, originally intended as a film spec script. The work was shaped into a novel, with more, hopefully to follow in the series.

One early September morning Phillips was involved in a serious car crash. A broken neck, ribs, and the loss of his upper teeth, surgery for nerve damage is upcoming. Yet still David Phillips tries to write every day. Battleship Run is sure to grab you from the first page and not let you go until the very last.

I caught up with David just before his interview with a local newspaper.

JAN: First of all congratulations on the publication of Battleship Run. Let's hope it continues to sell briskly. What led you to write the book? I understand it was originally intended as a film treatment, right? 

DP: First off, I’d like to say thank you for allowing me to answer these questions for you.  Yes, it originally started out as a film spec script. It underwent numerous changes in the course of writing it three times or so. What you read in the book is not how the first script looked. I added and deleted scenes, changed the settings and involved more countries. It was a bit darker you could say. I had the financial collapse pending with the United States, and China being more of the aggressor. I had the Isis Satellite still in operation towards the big battle scene at the end, where the world was able to see the fight that would take place. I also had the ship badly burned and the crew dying as Ghost brought the ship back home on her own as thousands of spectators watched the burnt vessel coming into port.
I really liked what I had created so decided to go to the next step. I spent some money and had a professional script consultant look it over and give me his thoughts. He loved the story and thought it was amazing but as is the case with most scripts, I had too much dialog. I had to chop it down to where they were barely saying anything. He also thought that some of the things I wrote were too far-fetched to be believable, like the economic collapse of the United States. I knew from that moment on I did not like where this was going. I then made up my mind to convert the story to a book form. I wanted to tell it my way and not somebody else's way. I changed a few things again so that I could perhaps turn it into a two part story or a trilogy.
I only did the script version, and the conversion to book form just for my own pleasure. I never intended it to be out in the open for others to see. I was bored one day and I was sick of the stupid television reality shows on TV and did this to pass the time.
It didn’t exactly stay hidden very well because as you know James, I was looking for advice on how to format a book and you offered your services. Next thing I know, I hear you like the story and here I am.
JAN: Were there any particular books, television shows, movies or life experiences that inspired you to start Battleship Run or was it just an idea out of the blue?

 DP: It was an idea out of the blue. As a kid I would have model boats and even make those little paper hats and me and a friend of mine would go down to the dredge ditch and put them in the water upstream and then we would take turns shooting at them with our BB guns as they slowly floated by. It was always fun to see how many times we could hit them, there are still small chunks of plastic sitting on the bottom.

My best model even had a small motor on it that would turn the propellers. I didn’t want to shoot that one, so come bath time it ended up in the tub with me. It didn’t float to well. It spent most of it’s time capsized bouncing off the walls of the bathtub. It would eventually sink and chug along the bottom as a submarine eventually striking a bar of soap or something. More fun than a yellow rubber ducky I always thought.


JAN: You've also turned your hand to shorty writing lately, "Post Partum Separation" is a wonderfully twisted tale. Where did that idea come from? Not the bathtub I hope.
DP: Ha-ha, no bathtub this time. It was the shower. Seriously though, it came from all the pain pills I was taking at the time I believe.

I was in an automobile accident and broke my neck some ribs and messed up various other body parts.  So the pain pills and the agony I was in gave me this nightmare. It was something I have never dreamt of before, and I hope never again. It was pretty creepy as the readers will find out before long. I think it took me just an hour or two to hurry up and write down what I saw.

JAN: I believe, and I hope I'm not the only one, that story telling does come from experiences in life, good or bad. But it is the scary stories that people love to read the most so it follows that from tragic life experiences great stories can be told. I've found this to be true. Readers are fascinated by fear and the grit and determination the protagonist must pull out of his or her locker while getting through a shitty experience. Do you think the accident in anyway shaped or formed your writing or feelings towards writing? Has it made you more determined? More driven?
DP: It has now. I had Battleship Run completed already, but the sequel has come to a halt at the moment. Looking back at what happened it certainly changes everything I do from this point forward. The sound of the impact with metal collapsing all around you, and then suddenly finding yourself standing up 30 feet from your vehicle in a ditch with no memory of what happened in between, is one of the most oddest feelings I have ever experienced. It makes you wonder if it was divine intervention, luck, or lack of it, or surviving because some part of your destiny has not been completed yet. I often think of these things. I have no wife and kids and basically no relations left. The other person had all of the above and yet I was the one who walked away. Why? I have simply come to the conclusion that everything has a purpose whether it is good or bad.


JAN: Are you more determined to make your mark now you’ve been given a second chance?

DP: I wouldn’t say it has made me more driven or determined, but it has made me look deeper into every little thing I do.  Too often people take things for granted and only when we lose something do we realize what it was we had, and how thankful we should have been.  It only takes one second for everything to change. Whatever it is we set out to do, try to do your best. If you fail, so what, you tried and that is something no one can take away from you.  It is better to try and fail, than not try at all. 

I have started to try my hand at writing not because I thought I was great at it, but because I was often told I had a knack for telling a story. The only way I could know for sure was to throw it out there and let the public decide.
JAN: Well, so far they have decided in your favor. Let’s hope it continues

Battleship Run is for sale on Amazon and at

Monday, March 9, 2015

Taliban Man

SHOCKING THE WORLD all over again.

Taliban Man. by Krom .

WE HAVE seen it all before. Well, not quite. The Cambodian band led by Christopher Minko accompanied by one of the finest singers in Cambodia, Sophea Chamroeun. Superstar in her own right. The band have their sights set firmly on 2015 being their year, and listening to the most recent material it just might be.

A demo for their new track Taliban Man fell into my inbox. I put on the headphones...

The dark vocals of Minko juxtaposed against the haunting melodies works in this, their latest track. The subject matter as ever disturbing, but doesn't cause offence. Minko is an observer in a world gone slightly mad rather than a provoker of debate. If the lyrics seem too direct it is because they are supposed to be. This compared with the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Chamroeun makes for a powerful potent stew rather than a watery soup.

The track begins with gunshots and doesn't really let go until the end.

Photo By Alasdair McLeod - Bangkok Rooftop concert.

Cast your mind back, gentle reader, way back, way, way, back.... Dusty temple ruins teleport up above the city, far, far form here we look up and we look down, we float above the temple complex and the magnificence of that glorious civilization. These are the images that the backing vocals conjure up in this listener's mind

Centipedes battle for money, spiders shelter in perilous dwellings Hearts broken, lives lost, above us there is hope. Hope is a bitch most of the time, but she is there, always. Hope stands in the shape of a Chicago Typewriter

(That's Tommy Gun to me and you.)

Taliban Man invites the listener to consider the impossibilities of man-kind as only Krom can. Murder, death, manipulation, all Minko's signature themes are in here.

Krom's lyrics ask scary questions and answer them. Sometimes with such brutal honestly that you find yourself wondering where the question came from.... Ah "From the heart."....Land too scary to venture for fear of landmines. Covered up, overgrowth, branches, fallen trees. While most of the world wanders around with selfie sticks Krom are on the frontlines of world conflicts taking wide-angled shots of atrocities many care not to think about. I asked the band about this.

KROM:   This KROM song is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of innocent children killed in war and civil conflict. The lyrics can be equally applied to the thousands of Jewish children gassed in Nazi concentration camps in WW2, to the multitude of children who died under the brutal regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia, the recent kidnapping of innocent children by Boko Haram and the innocent children currently being killed by US drone bombs in Afghanistan. Saddest of all is the recognition that even in the 21st Century, humanity continues to use innocent children as tools of war and civil conflict.

Let's go underground. Descend into the sewers of  hell. The Taliban Man takes us there.

Charles Bukowski once wrote "Nothing worth a shit got wrote in paradise."

Minko understands this.

They have the skill to break into World Music. Christopher is a wonderful musician, classically trained, steady on his path and gaining a foothold.

The band came over to Bangkok last year. The artistic community here were spellbound and realized that they were watching something special. Minko's strong grip on the neck of his electric acoustic and steady chord arrangements, the haunting beauty of the sister's vocals. I was impressed to the point I took their CD to London.

London loved it.

And so should you.

The band and production team are:

Music: Christopher Minko + Sophea Chamroeun
Guitar(s) / Lyrics / Vocals: Christopher Minko
Harmony Vocals: Sophea Chamroeun
Produced by James "Mao" Sokleap
Recorded in Phnom Penh: February 2015
Mastered at The Carvery (UK)
A Metal Postcard Release

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Joe Dylan's Hangover Cure,

Warhol wouldn't do this....
NOW, AS we all know Joe Dylan is no stranger to the odd 'lost weekend.' Owing to this and with our own livers in mind we thought we would catch up with Dylan for his advice on a handy hangover remedy. We hand you over to Joe Dylan, hangover expert and private investigator.

JD: It's all about preparation and foresight which are unfortunately two tools normally absent form your average alcoholics toolkit. What the hell, here's a simple cure that seems to do the trick. And let's face it when you're waking up feeling like there's a nest of rats scratching to escape your noodle its time to get wise and get wise quick. You need a plan. You need to prepare. You'll need:

Vitamin C 1000mg x 3
Vitamin B Complex 1000mg x 3
Tuna - 1 can
Corn soup - 1 can
Macaroni - 250 grams.
Water - 3 liters.
Electrolyte powder - 3 sachets
Tomato juice - 1 large carton
Gatorade - 1 bottle.

It may seem like a good idea to reach for the headache pills or even the bottle of booze that stung you but that just prolongs the agony. You could play around with combinations of headache pills, antihistamines, benzodiazepines or even, say morphine. Try to avoid this.

Now I'm a herbalist and I don't mean Satan's cabbage neither. That stuff gives me the horrors. Now I've given up the devil's bargain and let me tell you, I'm no quitter when it comes to quitting.

You know that. Don't ya?

Vitamins C an B are great at getting the liver back working and when your liver is in shape you're good to go on the next bender, I mean, next blender juice diet. These 1000 mil tablets can be bought over the counter in Fun City. Not sure where you are but those 25, 50 or 100 mil tablets in a container won't touch a hangover detox unless you take a lot. So check the dosage.

The tomato juice is packed full of stuff like potassium, the tuna pure protein which is plain and easy to digest as is the soup. The electrolyte powders are used by athletes and alcoholics alike to rehydrate the body after some serious exercise, ditto the Gatorade.

Here's the steps, man.

Step 1. Arrive back to your cold water apartment smashed out of your skull.
Step 2. Down that bottle of Gatorade along with one Vitamin C and one B.
Step 3. Wake up feeling like there's a nuclear explosion in your head. But don't worry, baby, the worse is yet to come.
Step 4. Take that carton of tomato juice (don't add any voddy to that you cheeky scamp) add ice to a glass and chug away the whole carton along with another B and C vitamin tablet.
Step 5. Heat water in a pan and add the macaroni. Cook until soft and tender like your liver.
Step 6. Add the tuna and corn soup. Try not to spew in the broth.
Step 7. Stir and then add a little to a plate. Eat a little at a time until the B and C's kick in giving the liver the all clear to keep on going. You might start shaking, this is normal. Well abnormal but normal considering the fact you had all the morals of a god darn sewer rat last night. Don't eat the whole macaroni dish.
Step 8. Take a large pint glass of water and add the electrolytes. Drink it down. Now's the time you might heave up that bowl of golden goodness. That's why I said leave some for later, stupid.
Step 9. Take a nap.
Step 10. Wake up. Get some exercise. Go for a walk. A jog if you do that sort of thing.
Step 11. Drink the remaining water. Feeling better now?
Step 12. Consider taking the 12 steps, because buddy, you got a drinking problem and you know it.

The Beat Goes On.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Opium Sparrows

The title refers to those little birds in cages, Not a reference to the women who ply their trade in some seedy SM joint, Cages. The feathered birds be housed in wooden cages, that, for a price a tourist can release from the cage. Just open the door and watch them fly away....But dear readers, be aware these birds are addicted to smack, junk, horse, opium. They are on the gear. These little birds return to the cage for the next fix. As do the tourists. Although the tourists often return for a non-chemical bang. A drug all the same.

A better metaphor of the conditional expat or sexpat there cannot be. An invisible bungee cord springs them back to the country regardless of coups and  impossible immigration polices. The tourists keep returning to Thailand. For them it is a drug, a shot of freedom. Flying without wings.

They must come back for the world that they left behind is full of misery and pain. They come back for the food and the temples. They may come back to write a book, record an album. They may return to the Kingdom to escape a messy divorce, to pursue a dull time drinking career. To take time to pile the blocks of their lives and take a look at it. They may try to insert the wrong wooden block inside the wrong dry wooden crack,

Let's not be cynical.

That strange game we call life it all comes tumbling down. In Bangkok. In Patpong, Heaven turns to hell.They, those that do this sort of thing, may rent an apartment on the 13th floor. They may jump from the balcony leaving nothing behind but a gruesome history.

This novel has it all, death, pain, Sexual quirks and alcoholism. This novel explains why most men stay in Thailand and why many of us die here,

The author, Kevin Wood has been a nightclub owner, he is a regular musician at the Checkiin bar, He has done radio, he has acted in stage plays to much great response. He has also written a novel. A great one. He knows this city. He is qualified to write this novel

A great dirty one. A book that includes a woman addicted to drinking. The protagonist keeps it cooled in the refrigerator. Yes, this is a brave novel.

A novel that I challenge anybody to not find entertaining  Perhaps a little sickening at times but entertainment must turn the stomach as well as the mind.

We are lucky to have Kevin in Bangkok. We are lucky to have his art.

If Miller met Bukowski spoke about life in Bangkok at the corner bar near the kebab joint. 'Opium Sparrows' may have been born over that doner. Henry would have said "Write it." Kevin would had sad "Well, but,,,"

Miller would have said, "Give me a mention."

But there are no buts, This is a book that while being a serious study on the expat condition is also full of sexual content.

I won't spoil the plot. That would be silly. Somebody once told me it was banned. That was silly too.

I suggest you find the book and read it. I read it in a day.

A wonderful Day. A day the lizards bathed in glory and Newman ordered a pizza. Sparrows and a sprinkling of O. Black bread, no olives. That would be decadent. And as my readers know- Newman doesn't do decadence. I'll leave that to the sparrows.

The Beat Goes On..