The Commonwealth of Nations have been well represented at Thailand Footprint with authors from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia written about and discussed here often. Author, John Daysh from New Zealand becomes the first Kiwi to be interviewed at Thailand Footprint but he will not be the last. John is a sixth generation New Zealander through his maternal blood lines and the Great, Great, Great, Grandson of John Daysh whom arrived in New Zealand in 1841 from Hamshire, England. Just two years after the Treaty of Waitangi which granted Britain dual sovereignty (with the indigenous Maori) over New Zealand. He is a proud New Zealander who knows Thailand well. The setting for his backpacker/crime/love story novel, Cut Out The Middleman is southern Thailand and London, based, in part, on John’s own exploration and extensive travels. Thailand Footprint is pleased to have John Daysh here today checking in from God’s country on Easter Sunday:
TF: Why is New Zealand known as The God Zone and how is it different than the zones found in Bangkok?
JD: I guess it comes from a mix of arrogance, honesty, pride and naivety. NZ is a lovely country to live in. Stunningly beautiful and wonderfully uncomplicated. But it is also incredibly detached and insular. That is where it is similar to Bangkok; or how Thais are similar to Kiwis. The vast majority of Kiwis wouldn’t be able to determine the difference between a Korean, a Thai, a Chinese or a Japanese. Same as most Thais can’t tell the cultural difference between an American, a Swede, an Aussie or a German. New Zealand has always been geographically isolated from the rest of the world and that has insulated the minds of many in that there is a sense that we are untouched or unsullied by the problems that face the rest of the world. It is as if our clean, green, unpolluted environment mirrors our mentality. I remember coming home for a holiday when I was living in China and the lead story on the 6 o’clock news was about how a postie (mail delivery dude on a bicycle) was refusing to deliver mail to a particular street because he felt intimidated by the dogs barking at him from behind their fences (a legal requirement for dog owners). I didn’t know whether to be annoyed, amused or envious. On the most popular news website in New Zealand, World News sits below National News, Sports News, Weather, Entertainment News and What’s on TV. Ignorance is bliss. And it is. Living in New Zealand has been compared to living in England in the 1950’s. It is a fair comparison outside the big cities. And I guess that is what I love and hate about living here. Beautifully simple but agonizingly unsurprising. It is the perfect place to raise a family.
TF: What books influenced you growing up?
JD: I read everything Hemingway wrote by the time I was fourteen. I had read everything Stephen King had written by the time I was fifteen and I have read every book of his since. Hemingway’s stoicism and concise style resonated strongly with me and King’s wild imagination and amazing characterisation captured me completely. From there I moved onto Kerouac and the Beat Generation and then Kesey introduced me to a mode of critical thought that sent me towards dystopian literature. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley became my new champions. That all happened before I went on to study literature at university and all of those writers still influence me today in the way I see the world and interact with it.
TF: Is there a book out there or laying around your home that you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to it yet?
JD: Christopher G. Moore’s ‘The Marriage Tree’. Reading is such a guilty pleasure at times. Mostly I am reading submissions or editing novels (or reading articles on the bloody internet) and it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for reading for pleasure. Maybe tonight.
TF:Complete this sentence: Amazon.com is …
JD: A vast jungle full of beauty, adventure, danger, and fecal matter.
TF: Make the case for fiction over non-fiction in 100 words or less.
JD: Fiction is an escape and it is limitless but it is more real than non-fiction. Fiction explores experience and tells stories and opens doors to the imagination and infinite creativity. Fiction exposes the reality of individuals in boundless form. It delves and depicts and infuses our lives with the truths of others. Fiction is a gift from the storyteller to the reader. Fiction is more honest than non-fiction.
TF: Tell our readers about your last novel, Cut Out the Middleman?
JD: It is the story of a disillusioned traveler who ‘finds’ himself in Thailand and ends up running a beach bar on a remote island where he gets caught up in the drug trade. He tries to navigate a safe path amongst psychopaths, drug addicts, whores and hippies in attempt to heal himself and find love.
TF: Please tell me your three favorite dead authors? Or if you are feeling confident you can throw some live ones into the mix?
JD: Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley. James A. Newman, Stephen King, James Austin Farrell.
TF: Tell me about your publishing house. What excites you about it? What about it is a drag?
JD: Spanking Pulp Press is something that James Newman and I cobbled together out of our frustration with the world of publishing and our love of pulp fiction. Our primary aim is to support promising writers and bring pulp fiction back into the mainstream. The excitement comes firstly from being able to work with James Newman who I consider to be one of the finest gentlemen I’ve met and one of the finest literary talents around. The man is a pulp genius. Secondly, it gives me the chance to work with some fantastic writers and also hone my editing skills, and hopefully make me a better writer. The opportunity to be James’ editor and co-publisher was just too good to pass up. Then I got to work with one of my heroes, Phillip Wiley, and James Austin Farrell who I truly believe will achieve literary greatness in time. Plus hanging out with Thailand’s most famous private eye, Warren Olson, has been amazing as we work on a set of four novels and his upcoming memoir, The Private Detective. Then from old hands to young bucks; Simon Palmer is our latest signing and he is going to turn some heads for sure.
What is a drag? Only having so many hours in a day. We have been very lucky in that we had an influx of quality submissions quite early on. But that means that some good books and writers have to wait while James and I take it one book at a time to ensure we are putting out the best books we can. My biggest stress is knowing that some damn fine writers are waiting on me to get to their book. I wish time would drag so I could get more done.
TF: What does the The Year of the Horse have in store for you?
JD: Editing, editing, editing. We aim to have another ten books out this year. Plus I’m trying to finish a novel I’ve be in and out of over the past few years. “Like a Moth to a Flame” will be ready by the time I hit Bangkok in December/January for a book signing and the next Bangkok Night of Noir at the Check Inn 99. Fingers crossed.
TF: Thanks, John. I look forward to that happening. In the meantime, good luck on lowering that golf handicap of yours between books.
This interview first appeared at Thailand Footprint