Sunday Spotlight: John Elray, Author of Pattaya Beach

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting with us at Confessions of a Bookaholic today is John Elray, author of Pattaya Beach.

Hi there John, welcome to Confessions of a Bookaholic!

Tell us something about Pattaya Beach which isn’t covered in the synopsis.
That's a tricky question to answer without giving too much away but I'll give it a shot.  Probably the best way to address this is to talk about the methodology I used when writing Pattaya Beach, namely drawing on actual events and conversations and working them into the story.  These can be as simple as an off hand comment which could easily go unnoticed but in reality has a profound meaning.  For example, when Fah tells Ed that she doesn't like her step father because of the way he treats her mother:  "…he use her like a football… make red come out."  In part, it's the broken English Fah (a composite of two individuals) uses to express this the best she can that gives the statement more power than if I were to tell you the same thing in proper English.  Another instance where an actual event was used is the tale she tells of the bar girl whose body was found in a large duffle bag after sitting for three days under the hot sun in a vacant lot right off the main Beach Road.  Apparently a customer took her to his hotel room and got too rough with her… to the extreme.  As it was told to me, "the police know who he is, but they don't know where he is".  Pattaya is a small city, however, it's rife with drugs, local thugs, Russian mafia, and more than its share of crazies.  Life is cheap there. It can be a dangerous place.

That cover is really very unique, care to explain it?
The cover of Pattaya Beach is a collage made up of a few of the photos I took one night in 2006 in an effort to capture the night life of the town.  It's laid out in much the same fashion as you'd see Pattaya walking through one of the bar districts to the beach… illuminated signs overhead, the girls enticing passersby to patronize their establishment, and the gentle slope of the land down to the palm fringed shoreline of the Gulf of Thailand.  The sign being held by a young lady advertises Lady Drinks, which are mixed drinks containing little if any alcohol which one can buy for the girl(s) of one's choice to secure some conversation time.  The girls get a commission for every drink bought by their customer.

Who is your favourite character of your own creation?
I guess my favourite is the female protagonist, Fah, although I'm not sure I can take full credit for creating her since she's a composite character based on two real people.  So I'd have to go with Ed, the male protagonist.  He is a fabrication but has some stereotypical qualities found in many of the farang (pronounced falang, meaning western) men who frequent Thailand.  Ed has some interesting personality quirks that I spent a considerable amount of time researching so that I got it right.  Saying any more than that would be a spoiler.

What is the best piece of feedback you have got on your work?
The most gratifying statement made about Pattaya Beach came from a literary agent who posted a review of it on Goodreads.  She described it as "…a tutorial in excellent writing."
What is it about Thailand that intrigues you enough to base your book there?
I first began travelling to Thailand on business, and while I've been there many times now since I started writing Pattaya Beach, the first two or three years were real eye openers.  It was the revelation of a culture which, on one hand, is vastly  different from what most of the English speaking world is familiar with… a Buddhist society with all it's charm, customs, superstitions, and religious devotion, while on the other hand is no different whatsoever when all the veneer is stripped away.  This contrast is especially true in Pattaya where pretty much anything goes.

What inspired you to write about this subject matter?
If you were to ask frequent travellers to Pattaya what its most prominent feature was, they'd probably say the bars… and lots of them.  It's these establishments and the women that work there, in one fashion or another, that provide ample fodder for the novelist.  Each lady has her (or in some cases his) own unique story, sometimes resulting in happy ever after true love but more often than not ending in heartbreak, trapping them in a world that beckons with opportunities that seldom pan out.  It was this seemingly futile, revolving door, pursuit that led me to create Pattaya Beach driven by one of those "gotta write this story" obsessions.

What authors do you believe have inspired your work the most?
Two names come to mind.  One is Leon Uris, whose outstanding works of historically based fiction ignited the spark in me to write my first novel, Khalifah – the story of how the son of Muhammad's archenemy took control of the Muslim empire in the seventh century.  Like Uris's works, it's by and large a historically accurate (albeit fictionalized) epic that spans many years in the main characters' lives.  The other author is John Burdett who has written several fascinating novels set in Thailand.

Have you any more works planned that we should look out for?
I'm presently doing a book of short stories, most of which can be generally described as dark humor.  It's about half completed and has the working title  "… And You Though You Had It Bad".  I plan to have it ready for publication by early summer.

Fancy telling us about your publishing company, Aardwolfe Books, and what it is you do?
I'm one of the principals of Aardwolfe Books, a small publisher of distinctive works of fiction and narrative non-fiction.  We also provide editorial services to authors, either directly or through agents, to include line editing, story editing and ghost writing.  We're always looking for new (or established) authors with promising manuscripts and provide thorough proofing and copy editing before releasing a book for publication.  Our only requirement is that the author provide us a high quality product before going into copyediting, but we never insist that they use our editorial services to get there as a condition of publication.

Finally, is there anything else that you want the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?
Only to acknowledge the superb effort you put in, Emily, to connect writers and readers on Goodreads .  I'll be happy to respond to any members who have further questions via the Ask The Author feature on my profile page  Thanks for the opportunity to showcase Pattaya Beach.

Thank you for joining us John!

About Pattaya Beach
Pattaya Beach
Fah, a twenty-two year-old farm girl from Thailand's rural northeast has moved to Pattaya City to do the one thing that has any hope of bringing her decent money – work in the sex trade. Her goal: land a well to do foreigner who can deliver her and her family from a subsistence life. Ed, a recent arrival from America, looks like he might just be the one. What Fah doesn’t know, however, is that Ed is a deeply disturbed man who has traveled to Thailand to kill his nemesis, Bill (Fah's employer), in retaliation for an imagined betrayal. What Ed doesn't know is that he's about to fall in love – and that's when all the trouble begins.

Whether you're a seasoned traveler to the Land of Smiles or a neophyte, you'll be totally absorbed in John Elray's latest novel, Pattaya Beach. Based on a true story, Pattaya Beach exposes the grit beneath the veneer of the fun capital of the world, and delves into the psyches of its cast of inimitable characters in this compelling novel that you won't want to put down. The author guides you along the broad arc of Fah and Ed's engaging odyssey to convey invaluable insight into the people, passions and perils of Thailand – a land of pleasure unmatched anywhere else on earth.
Find Pattaya Beach on Goodreads | Amazon | Aardwolfe Books

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1 People dared to comment.:

kim hansen said...

Gotta love books.

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