James Newman is a Brit based in Bangkok and he is a bona fide busy man. Involved in almost all things literal, James juggles his jurisdictions and duties with an apparent effortless flair and first impressions of this published author is that he is thoughtful, deliberate and restrained.
His home counties accent rolls with a natural melody and his words are that of a storyteller: plucked from the air and unscripted yet done with care and verbose efficiency. There is no attempt to demonstrate the use of a flowery word-stock.
That’s because James doesn’t have to, his books are rich and acerbic, sardonic and cynical, informing and dark; they grab you and drag you along for a rip-roaring ride and the only respite comes when you stop turning the pages, put the book down and catch your breath.
What’s the story about your travel so far?
Grew up as a kid in Lewisham and then moved to Kent. After being an-almost-semi-pro skateboarder in my teens and a singer in a band, I took a litigation job in London before leaving for Thailand in 2001. The first several years were spent living on Koh Samui and in the Northeastern provinces of Surin and Korat doing a variety of jobs. I have lived in Bangkok for the past six years.
And you have been writing all of this time?
Yes I have – I began writing short stories in my late teens and then I began sending them off to be published in pulp fiction magazines all around the world. Just like Lou Reed caused me to pick up a guitar, he and the American author William Burroughs made me pick up the pen to write. As well as other US authors such as Bukowski, Hammett, Chandler I also like some British writers such as Patrick Hamilton and Alexander Trocchi. I read a lot. Fiction is a way of escape – it’s all about reading about a person in a place with a problem. Despite having terrific times in other parts of Thailand, I simply had to move to Bangkok to make things happen in my writing career.
Having published five books in the past two years, you seem to have made the right decision.
A lot has been achieved since the move to Bangkok, yes. Two of the books that I wrote are short story collections; some are from my back catalogue along with quite a few new tales. I’ve also produced a trilogy centred on and around a fraud expert and detective named Joe Dylan. There’s a fourth Dylan book coming out soon.
Apart from the writing, what else is on your agenda?
A lot! I have three children, I teach, I am directing what will be an astonishing play with a group of incredible actors called The Natives which will be out next year and launched here in Bangkok. And I have set up a publishing company that is committed to bringing top talent and titles to literature fans around the world. I also hosted the Bangkok Night of Noir with a lot of top name authors reading their work at the Checkinn99 last January 5th, 2014.
Can you tell me a little more about the publishing company?
The company Spanking Pulp Press is the product of a New Zealand author named John Daysh and myself and it was borne out of our drive and a logical progression. We’re committed to some lofty targets, aiming to publish 100 books by 2015. We have had the fortune in landing some exceptional talent from around the world and are well on our way with 35 books under publishing contracts already.
Where do you get the time to conceive and produce your own work?
The middle of the night, working around the kids’ school routine and my necessary power naps – nothing happens if I am tired. The only “me time” that I get is from hopping on one of Bangkok’s many buses and simply going along for the ride. I’ll produce my first drafts on a fold-up vintage Corona typewriter that I bought in Camden Market 16 years ago, and from there, it’s put into bits and bytes then uploaded to eBook format.
James Newman’s work is available in bookstores and on Amazon for the Kindle and other devices.