Author Interview: Tom Vater

Today I am interviewing Tom Vater, author of the new detective novel, The Monsoon Ghost Image, third book in the Detective Maier series.

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DJ: Hi Tom! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Tom: I am a writer based in Asia. I’ve been on the road for the past 25 years, mostly in South and Southeast Asia. I am a freelance journalist and write feture stories for a wide varietyof publications including The Asia Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, The Nikkei Asian Review, CNN etc. I am the author or co-author of numerous non-fiction books including the best-selling Sacred Skin- Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos (sacredskinthailand.com).I am the co-owner of Crime Wave Press (www.crimewavepress.com), a small crime fiction publishing imprint which has published 32 titles to date.

I am the author of four novels, the most recent of which The Monsoon Ghost Image will be out with Crime Wave Press in November 2018.

DJ: What is The Monsoon Ghost Image and the Detective Maier series about?

Tom: Maier is a former conflict journalist turned detective. Based in Hamburg, he solves crimes involving Germans who have gotten in trouble in Asia. The first two books in the series, The Cambodian Book of the Dead and The Man with the Golden Mind were published to great critical acclaim by UK/US publisher Exhibit A which unfortunately went out of business after a short run of titles. The third Detective Maier mystery, The Monsoon Ghost Image is a taut and crazy spy thriller for our disturbing times.

When award-winning German conflict photographer Martin Ritter disappears in a boating accident in Thailand, the nation mourns the loss of a cultural icon. But a few weeks later, Detective Maier’s agency in Hamburg gets a call from Ritter’s wife. Her husband has been seen alive on the streets of Bangkok. Maier decides to travel to Thailand to find Ritter. But all he finds is trouble and a photograph.

As soon as Maier puts his hands on the Monsoon Ghost Image, the detective turns from hunter to hunted – the CIA, international business interests, a doctor with a penchant for mutilation and a woman who calls herself the Wicked Witch of the East all want to get their fingers on Martin Ritter’s most important piece of work – visual proof of a post 9/11 CIA rendition and the torture of a suspected Muslim terrorist on Thai soil. From the concrete canyons of the Thai capital to the savage jungles and hedonist party islands of southern Thailand, Maier and his sidekick Mikhail race against formidable foes to discover some of our darkest truths and to save their lives into the bargain.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Detective Maier series?

Tom: I am a big fan of Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith, Katherine Dunn, Ross McDonald, Chester Himes, Massimo Carlotto, Philip Kerr and when I am in transit, I enjoy reading Lee Child to kill the time.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?

Tom: Maier is a somewhat jaded conflict photographer who goes through considerable character development over the course of the free novels. In The Cambodian Book of the Dead he is very much the hardboiled PI. In the second book, The Man with the Golden Mind, a more personal side to his character is revealed when his family becomes part of his case. In The Monsoon Ghost Image, Maier is all stripped down and forced to contemplate what’s truly important in life. Maier’s sidekick is a gay Russian called Mikhail, a former FSB hitman (and a lot else besides) turned detective.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the the Detective Maier series like? 

Tom: My three novels are set in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, the hear of mainland Southeast Asia. They inhabit specific historic universes as well. The Cambodian Book of the Dead is in part a meditation on the Khmer Rouge genocide in the 1970s. The Man with the Golden Mind has the CIA’s covert war in Laos, the largest operation of the agency to date (that we know of) at its heart while The Monsoon Ghost Image touches on the CIA rendition program of suspected Muslim terrorists in the wake of 9/11. The Maier universe is a little like the real world – the rich are generally venal and cruel and the poor generally get shafted.

DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two books of the Detective Maier series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?

Tom: As the first two books were published with a large imprint, promotion was excellent and the reviews for the first title were plentiful and positive. By the time the second book was published, the imprint had lost its spirit. The book sold well but was not as widely promoted as the first title. I guess the target audience are comprised of readers who like action packed hardboiled novels and those who enjoy historical crime fiction.,

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Monsoon Ghost Image?

Tom: Finishing it.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Tom: I hope that readers will be gripped by some of the novels more outlandish characters, especially the crazy villains and that the book will give them a small insight into how the USA fights its secret wars.

DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing the Detective Maier series? The series is not yet complete, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Tom: I’ve always been interested in what white people do when they become absorbed into foreign far-away cultures, be it through colonial exploitation, travel, family, work or adventurism. I’d like to give readers an insight, however modest, into life in Southeast Asia and I turn a spotlight on those periods of Asian history we relate to best – usually through bringing conflict or unfair business practices to far away countries.

DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Monsoon Ghost Image that you can share with us?

Tom: He inhaled deeply and tried to listen to inner voices. There were none. He was calm enough, all things considered. He’d never killed anyone. In fact, he’d saved quite a few lives in his time. Perhaps now, things would even out.

DJ: Now that The Monsoon Ghost Image is released, what is next for you?

Tom: Publication date is November 1st 2018. I have just written a short story about Ahmed, a stoner boy who lives alone in his crumbling family home in the Moroccan desert until a car crashes into the building and the driver, a young woman, injured and in terrible danger, asks him for help. I am not sure yet how and when I will publish The Deadly Sands of Tamegrout. I am on a journalistic assignment in Nepal and Northern India in the coming weeks. After that I hope to have time to sit down and start on another crime novel. No particular plan yet, the mind is receptive, antennas are pointing in all directions.

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?  

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Vater/e/B003A44SLU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1535457755&sr=8-1

Blog: www.tomvater.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tomvater/?ref=settings

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/29347590-crime-wave-press

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-vater-ba052038/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tomvater

Website: https://www.clippings.me/users/tomvater

Publishing House: http://www.crimewavepress.com

DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Monsoon Ghost Image and the Detective Maier series that we haven’t talked about yet?

Tom: The Maier series is a hard-boiled blend of sometimes violent but always high entertainment, espionage shenanigans and vivid historic colors, embedded in a meditation on why we live in a world in which few of us get the justice we deserve, served up against the background of life in Asia. Maier, despite his earlier career as a conflict journalist, is really an everyman thrust into unspeakable situations.

DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?

Tom:  Support small publishers and independent writers. Support Crime Wave Press. Our books are full of drama and suspense and they are affordable.

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

Tom: Thank you, DJ. for the opportunity to talk about my work.

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*** Monsoon Ghost Image is published by Crime Wave Press and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon

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About the Book:

DIRTY PICTURES, SECRET WARS AND HUMAN BEASTS – DETECTIVE MAIER IS BACK TO INVESTIGATE THE POLITICS OF MURDER

The third Detective Maier mystery is a taut and crazy spy thriller for our disturbing times.

When award-winning German conflict photographer Martin Ritter disappears in a boating accident in Thailand, the nation mourns the loss of a cultural icon. But a few weeks later, Detective Maier’s agency in Hamburg gets a call from Ritter’s wife. Her husband has been seen alive on the streets of Bangkok. Maier decides to travel to Thailand to find Ritter. But all he finds is trouble and a photograph.

As soon as Maier puts his hands on the Monsoon Ghost Image, the detective turns from hunter to hunted – the CIA, international business interests, a doctor with a penchant for mutilation and a woman who calls herself the Wicked Witch of the East all want to get their fingers on Martin Ritter’s most important piece of work – visual proof of a post 9/11 CIA rendition and the torture of a suspected Muslim terrorist on Thai soil. From the concrete canyons of the Thai capital to the savage jungles and hedonist party islands of southern Thailand, Maier and his sidekick Mikhail race against formidable foes to discover some of our darkest truths and to save their lives into the bargain.


About the Author:

Tom Vater is a best-selling writer and publisher working predominantly in Asia. He is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based English language crime fiction imprint.

He has published three novels, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, currently available in English and Spanish, and The Cambodian Book of the Dead, released by Crime Wave Press in Asia and  world wide in July 2013 by Exhibit A and The Man with the Golden Mind, also published with Exhibit A in March 2014. Tom is currently writing the third Detective Maier Mystery, The Monsoon Ghost Image.

Tom has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Times, The Guardian, The Nikkei Asian Review, Marie Claire, Geographical, Penthouse and other publications.

He is The Daily Telegraph‘s travel destination expert for Thailand.

He has published more than twenty non-fiction books, including the highly acclaimed Sacred Skin with photographer Aroon Thaewchatturat and the more recent Burmese Light with photographer Hans Kemp. In 2014, he published Cambodia: Journey through the Land of the Khmer with long time Lonely Planet photographer Kraig Lieb.

Tom is the co-author of several documentary screenplays, most notably The Most Secret Place on Earth, a feature on the CIA’s covert war in 1960s Laos.

He is represented by the London based literary agency Marjacq.

Tom also works as a consultant for investors, NGOs and other organizations who are looking for expertise on the political, cultural and social landscape, political economies, policy issues and challenges, social issues, political dynamics and Tom’s unique perspectives based on his on-the-ground experience of Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal. Clients include UNDP, Global Frontiers Inc., Fauna and Flora International (FFI), the EU, US AID, The NGO Forum on Cambodia, The Australian Government and the East West Management Institute.

In his spare time, Tom travels and plays punk rock.


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