I recently got word that a new independent publisher is trying to kick the corporate media world’s bum by releasing hard hitting, pulpy noirs with Asian settings. I am talking about Crime Wave Press based in Hong Kong and brainchild of travel and Asian focused writer Tom Vater. The first two books are his own works of fiction. The first, “The Devil’s Road to Khatmandu”, is the grungy comeback of four infamous hippy trail beaters to the crime scene in a changed contemporary Nepal. A drug deal gone bad in the past swings back to the present like a high altitude Himalayan trek on acid, leaving no prisoners. The second novel, “The Cambodian Book of the Dead”, is the first episode of Detective Meier’s adventures: sent on the hunt for the heir to a coffee empire in Cambodia, the German private eye will get entangled with a crazy war criminal whose hideous career spans back to Nazi Germany and collides to the present of a nation recovering fast from genocide…
If you love Asia and pulp like I do, these two books should definitely become part of your Kindle’s top 10, as they are easily available through Amazon.com as eBooks.
I decided to reach Tom Vater, the man in the dark hat, to ask some more questions about his books and Crime Wave press…
First of all, I wanted to know more about the genesis of Crime Wave Press and how it situates among the current publishing market. Tom answered that “Crime Wave Press is a Hong Kong based fiction imprint that endeavors to publish the best new crime novels from Asia and about Asia to readers around the globe. I think it makes perfect sense to start this kind of publishing venture in the current economic climate. The large traditional book publishers, like the large record labels before them, are either on the way out or need to find new business models. Countless writers are putting out their own titles as eBooks these days but have no idea how to market them, how to get reviews, even how to package their work attractively. We step into the breach and feel that there are great opportunities for small companies with good know-how. My partner Hans Kemp has been running a successful publishing venture – Visionary World – from Hong Kong for many years and knows the ins and outs of putting books on the market intimately. I bring my long experience of writing about Asia, and I know a thing or two about crime fiction and how the media works. Beyond wanting to provide a platform for new talent in Asia, Crime Wave Press is also great fun. Finding talented writers is a hugely rewarding process. And we will be partying at Ubud’s Writers and Readers Festival in Bali in October and then move to the Frankfurt book fair to introduce Crime Wave Press to a larger audience. Any writers out there who have a crime novel with an Asian focus or location, get in touch via http://www.crimewavepress.com/”
I asked Tom, an affirmed travel writer, why he decided to move to fiction writing with a travel setting, and I got a clear answer: “I write non-fiction, journalism and fiction. I have made my living from writing for a decade and a half and found out in the early days that doing just one thing is not enough to make a decent living. Writers are paid so little, I don’t see how one can survive without working across the entire industry. The common thread here is that I mostly write about Asia. But yes, I have expanded my focus by starting a publishing company, Crime Wave Press. A new venture into new territory! And it’s fun!”
My curiosity was particularly sparkled by The Devil’s Road to Khatmandu, a pulp thriller with the infamous Hippy Trail as a background for the action. I asked Tom why he decided to talk about such a mysterious, “romantic” way of traveling which has become impossible these days. Tom answered that when he first came to Asia in the early 90s, he “met a bunch of people who had done that overland trip many times in the 1970s. They told me wonderful stories and I wanted to write something about the changing nature of travel at the time. And yes, there was something incurably romantic about it, perhaps because these guys were old hippies and I was young and felt, naturally, that something had been lost, with Lonely Planet et al arriving on the scene. One of these guys said that the difference between a tourist and a traveler is that the traveler does not know when his journey will end. He then set off riding a horse across Africa for three years”.
Of course, I wanted to know if he too had attempted the overland Europe to Asia route before writing about it. “I traveled from Kathmandu to Istanbul overland in 1998 and did other sections of the overland trail at various times. The long trip took about three months – fantastic experience. Witnessing the US play Iran during the 1998 football world cup, in a hotel in Esfahan, was a highlight I later wrote about – and I ended up playing a match with a small team of other travelers against local security forces on the world’s largest square! I Pakistan was gloriously lawless at that time, long before becoming politicized by 9/11, and I had a great adventure up in the North West around Peshawar. A lot of the material and characters in The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu were taken from that trip. I stayed for some time in the Swat Valley, now so infamous for its insecurity and violence”
If you want to read some fast-paced, intense pulp stories set into your favorite Asian backdrops, you better keep an eye open on Crime Wave Press’s dirty deeds. And remember that they are looking for submission at the moment, so get in touch with them if you have the guts!!