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…
You moved from travel writing to fiction writing with a travel setting, do you think this is natural for an author, and why did you expand your focus?
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. The collapsing print market in the past ten years only consolidated that belief. Writers are paid so little, I don’t see how one can survive without working across the entire industry. Hence I alternate between magazine and newspaper features, documentary screenplays, illustrated books, travel guides, travelogues and novels. I also get bored very easily and don’t like doing the same thing over and over. 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!
“The Devil’s Road to Khatmandu” is a pulp thriller with the infamous Hippy Trail as a starting point and a background for the action. What did you want to evoke by using such a mysterious, “romantic” way of traveling which has become impossible these days?
I first came to Asia in the early 90s, having traveled extensively in Europe (as a punk rock musician) and North Africa prior to that. In the mid-90s, I met a bunch of people who had done that overland trip many times in the 1970s. They told me wonderful and tall stories and I wanted to write something about the changing nature of travel at the time and this was a good angle. 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, “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.
Why did you decide to make “The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu” newly available?
The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu was published by a very small HK imprint that became inactive soon after the book was published in 2006. It sold some 800 copies with virtually no promotion and the reviews I got were all great. It bugged me for years that the book did not get the exposure I felt that it deserved, but I became distracted by other projects. When Crime Wave Press became a reality, I decided to resurrect it.
(TO BE CONTINUED)