Call me old fashioned, but I only just found out what an Internet meem is the other day when I was tagged to take part in the ‘Next Big Thing’.
A meme is something that spreads via the Internet. In this instance, it’s a string of short interview questions with various authors about their current book or work in progress.
Stroby is the author of a string of crime novels, the most recent of which I’ve read is Cold Shot to the Heart featuring the professional female thief, Crissa Stone. If you haven’t checked his work out already, I suggest you do so.
Since I have foresworn off blogging about my next book, I’ll answer the ten questions about my current novel, Ghost Money.
Ghost Money, out through Snubnose Press.
2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
It came from working on and off as a journalist in Cambodia in the mid-nineties and becoming fascinated with the place, the people, and the contrast between the anything goes, Wild West atmosphere of Phnom Penh and the hardscrabble but incredibly beautiful countryside. History oozed from the cracks in the French colonial architecture and protruded from the rich red earth, sometimes quite literally in the case of the mass graves that litter the countryside. Things happened every day – terrible events and acts of heart breaking generosity you couldn’t make up if you tried.
I always thought Cambodia would be a good setting for a crime story. But I also wanted to capture some of the country’s tragic history, the sense of a nation in transition.
3. What is the genre of your book?
Hard-boiled crime. Nearly everyone who has reviewed Ghost Money has called it noir, a label I’m more than happy to have applied to it. Indeed, some have even dubbed it Asian noir, which sounds even cooler.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your character in a movie rendition or a TV series?
The main character Max Quinlan, a Vietnamese Australian ex-cop, would be played by Vietnamese Australian actor, Dustin Nguyen.
Veteran Australian actor Bryan Brown would play Raymond Mainwaring, the key bad guy (there’s a lot of them).
Want to know why? You’ll just have to read the book.
5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
1996: Cambodia’s long-running Khmer Rouge insurgency is fragmenting. Missing in the chaos is businessman Charles Avery, hired to find him is a Vietnamese Australian ex-cop (okay that was two sentences, so sue me).
6. Is your book self published or traditionally published?
It is published through Snubnose Press, a US crime only digital publisher. So I suppose that makes it neither.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
In 2008 I lived in Cambodia for a year. I freelanced as a journalist, did some fixing work for foreign TV crews and wrote the first draft of the book.
8. What other books within the genre would you compare the story to?
Christopher G Moore’s Zero Hour in Phnom Penh. Jade Lady Burning by Martin Limon. A lot of people have told me Ghost Money is similar to Blood of Paradise by David Corbett, but since I haven’t read the book I can’t say.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Cambodia was my main inspiration. If I’m honest I’d add that while I have read a lot of great crime fiction, I’ve also read a lot of crap. Eventually, I thought ‘I have to be able to write a better book that a lot of the bad ones I’ve read’. As to whether I’ve succeeded or not, you’ll have to be the judge of that.
10. What else about the book might pique reader’s interest?
Ghost Money’s got a great caste of characters and, if I do say so myself, a truly unusual setting. It’s is a crime story, but it’s also about the broken country that was Cambodia in the nineties, about what happens to people who are trapped in the cracks between two periods of history, the choice they make, what they have to do to survive.
Now the fun bit, to keep this show on the road, I get to tag some other writers. They are:
Western Australian David Whish Wilson is one the most underrated crime writers working in Australia today. His first book Line of Sight was terrific. I have no doubt the next one due out in 2013 will be just as good.
Eva Dolan is a London-based British writer and reviewer. Her debut novel Long Way Home will be published in 2014. Watch out for it.
Luke Preston’s first book dark, Dark City Blue is out now with Momentum, Pan Macmillan’s digital only outfit. It’s great to see an unashamedly hard-boiled crime novel set in my hometown, Melbourne.
Richie Narvaez is a New Yorker and author of a kick arse collection of short stories called Roach Killer.
Be sure to check out their answers next week. I will.