In the worldwide recession of 2009, Ben Lofthouse plans to rebuild his life on Koh Pimaan, a paradise island in Thailand. Desperate to escape the increasing hostility of the locals who blame him for his failing businesses, and determined to find the beautiful but mysterious Nataya who has disappeared, Ben is plunged into an adventure which may prove fatal.
Surrounded by beautiful women, but relentlessly pursued by a former girlfriend, and stalked by a notorious London gangster, an unexpected romance develops. A new friendship catapults Ben into both increasingly sensual and dangerous situations. With a bevy of beauties at his side, he finds himself drawn into erotic moviemaking at Casa Blanca, a spectacular hillside villa.
Ben's dreams seem destined to become reality. But an amazing piece of news he has received could change his life forever, or bring it to an untimely end...
Hi, Mark, and welcome to Ramblings and Romance.
I’m delighted to be here, Seleste – thanks for the kind invitation.
What made you decide to pick up and move to Thailand?
After holidaying in Thailand a few times, then going to work there, I discovered the lifestyle and laidback attitude suited me fine. I’ve lived in Thailand for some years, including on islands similar to the imaginary Koh Pimaan, in Pursuit to Paradise, which I had to dream up because of the naughty goings-on there. I never came across such amazing antics elsewhere. I’ve endeavoured to convey something of the unique atmosphere, and sights to be found in The Land of Smiles. I hope readers will be able to easily relate, bouncing along happily with characters as they plunge into action. The people of Thailand always smile, in good and bad times they smile even at me and the many thousands of westerners who’ve settled there. It seemed a good idea to tell my story with lots of humour. Before relocating to Thailand, I spent long periods in quaint English villages, similar to those featured in the story. Dramatic differences in climate, lifestyles and attitude provide contrast, changing from scene to scene as a subplot unfolds.
With elephants walking by outside your house, obviously the country is rife with inspiration, what aspects of the land and culture spoke to you most when writing Pursuit to Paradise?
Encounters and relationships involving western men and Thai women have been published in many different guises around the world. I’ve attempted to throw new light on the subject, at the same time highlighting different lifestyles, such as people struggling for financial survival in the remote rice growing regions, to how different city life can be. Then there’s how tourists perceive Thailand when they visit the luxurious mainland resorts and spectacular paradise islands to the south. The well-known slogans, ‘Amazing Thailand’ and ‘Land of Smiles’ are certainly justified.
Can you tell us a little about your path to publication with this piece?
Originally, ‘Pursuit’ happened to be extremely erotic. Comments came back from several would-be publishers, pointing out the strong storyline didn’t need so much graphic detail. After shelving the project for a while, I revised it, cutting out the graphic sex.
The hardest part involved getting the style of English spoken by the characters correct. In, Pursuit to Paradise, There’s a mixture of Thai, American, English, Scandinavian, Indonesian, Australian and others. The heroine – or is she? – from Thailand, mysteriously speaks perfect English – much better than me. Other Thais in the book struggle with it. Then I spent ages researching acceptable English spelling for the few Thai words dotted here and there. Capturing the American, Australian and East London tone proved a challenge too. I hope it comes across okay. The other hard part was, as I mentioned earlier, deciding how much detailed sex needed to be included. The outrageous, quirky romance and humorous adventure is sensual, but graphic sex wasn’t required. I feel sometimes leaving a bit to the readers’ imagination whets the appetite. It slots into heat level 2 category. I’m deeply indebted to my publishers, Decadent Publishing. They helped tremendously in getting it all together.
What was your editorial process like?
One of the biggest problems is the time difference between Thailand and the USA. When you’re up and about, I’m sleeping – apart from a few crossover hours. During the editing process, manuscripts flew back and forth across the time zones. A little confusion occurred about which copy happened to be the most recently edited version. Also, Thailand doesn’t have the most wonderful internet service. Final edits were made by a fantastic editor in Ireland, and we saved a few hours as a result.
I noticed you write full time. Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
Maybe I should explain I’m retired, writing when the mood takes me – which could be full time. If I sell enough copies of ‘Pusuit’ to fund a year in Barbados, I’ll complete my new novel, tentatively called, ‘One-way Ticket to Paradise’, there. It’d focus on the lifestyle, culture, customs and people on that fabulous island. Otherwise – short of winning the lottery – it’ll be set in Thailand. Asked what misconceptions apply about being an author, I replied, ‘getting rich quick, becoming famous overnight and having a glamorous lifestyle.’ If only.
Is there anyplace in particular you like to go for inspiration or to write?
I don’t need wakeup calls in my northern Thailand village. Cocks, ducks and yapping dogs dependably announce the dawn. My wonderful Thai wife turns on my computer, makes the first of endless coffees, and prepares breakfast while I stir, fall out of bed and check to see what’s going on in the big wide world. Depending on my mood and the weather, I sometimes stroll along the quiet lane to the local temple, walk briskly around the beautiful grounds and along the river bank. Chanting monks and clanging gongs never fail to remind me how lucky I am to be in that part of Southeast Asia. Then I attempt to buckle down and knock out a few more pages of the next book. Most days bring distractions – elephants strolling past my house, herds of buffalo munching foliage in the front garden – little things that cause you to look up from the keypad. Bedtime usually comes early, after a stiff drink or two.
Coffee or tea? Coffee all the time, all day long.
Sweet or spicy? What? The coffee? Coffee not too sweet – sweet and spicy reading is fine.
Boxers or briefs? Briefs. In Thailand they come in amazing patterns and sizes.
Satin or lace? Come on, Seleste, for a guy? I love to see ladies wearing slinky satin and lace.
Fact or fiction? If you want a fact to stand out, spice it with a little fiction.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
It’s not me on the cover of ‘Pursuit’. I’m still getting loads of messages from females seeking relationships on a few of the well-known social network sites. Dara England made a wonderful job of the book cover. Thanks, Dara.
And I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed chatting with you, Seleste. It’s been fun. Thanks so much for the opportunity.