Short, Sharp Interview: Jonathan Kemp

ANosefortroublesmall (2)PDB: What’s going on now?

A lot of different things. The hard work of promoting A Nose for Trouble, besides all the other Crime Wave Press titles, of course. A lot of requests for my photography have come in recently. There’s a new Vietnamese restaurant opening in Hong Kong and they will have their walls decorated with1 by 1.5 meter sized photographs from my popular photo book Bikes of Burden. Then I am submitting photographs for an NGO calendar, a potential book project and I just got an invitation to have an exhibition this coming fall in Bulgaria.

PDB: How did you research this book?

In a way you can say I have researched this book for the past 25 plus years,
traveling all over Asia doing my photography. I know the locations well and
can create characters or parts of characters based on people I’ve crossed
paths with.

Once I had the basic plot in my head I also read quite a few books. All non
fiction. Books on the Tibetan resistance, mind control, Project Paperclip and
related histories.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

A Nose for Trouble is my first fiction title and I am certainly proud of
having accomplished writing it. I’ve published quite a number of photography
books. Each one has been a labor of love and I am equally proud of every

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Leaving Las Vegas by Mike Figgis ties with Death in Venice by Luchino Visconti
for fourth place. That’s two already. I really can’t make up my mind.
With books it’s even more of a conundrum. Odd enough (or not?) I read mostly
non-fiction. I really like Terrence McKenna’s writing. In fiction, one of my
favourite books is Mishima’s tetralogy The Sea of Fertility. Japan was the
first country in Asia I had the pleasure to work in, 28 years ago. The cook in
the bar where I worked was a passionate jazz aficionado and it was there that
I first got acquainted with the answer to your “next favourite” question.

Every time I hear Ballad of the Sad Young Men as performed by Art Pepper on
his No Limit album  I get goosebumps. To stay with my transgression in not
limiting myself to just one choice I will say that the Adagietto from
Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 has exactly the same effect. And that brings us full
circle to the final scene in Death in Venice.

TV programme? Easy, I don’t have one. A TV that is.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Is my camera important to my photography?
As a tool, yes, absolutely. But it does not produce the end product. Just as I
am not into pushing ever greater amounts of pixels but rather focus on
creating an image that evokes emotion, location serves a similar purpose. I
think the art though lies in the omission.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Way too often. Unhealthy really.

PDB: What’s next?

With A Nose for Trouble I set out to create an unlikely yet highly likeable
crime-fighting and mystery-solving partnership between the jaded Scanner Grant
and the impulsive Max Zwoelstra. Now that the connection is established,
further Scanner & Max adventures loom just over the horizon. I’ve got some
ideas brewing but nothing concrete yet. Other than that, for a substantial
part, it’s probably going to be set in Vietnam.
But first I’m off getting some diving done in the Philippines.

HansKempBioimageBW (2)Bio: Jonathan Kemp is the author alter ego of award winning photographer and Crime Wave Press co founder Hans Kemp.

Hans’ photography books, documenting culture and life in both known and
remote parts of Asia have sold well over 100,000 copies worldwide.

His first crime novel, A Nose for Trouble, is the answer to a question long
occupying his mind: How difficult can writing a book be? Certainly not a walk in the park, Jonathan compares the writing process to the hard work of being on the road. When you set off you may have a sense of direction but the logistics will seem daunting. Along the way you will meet an array of extraordinary characters whose very existence was unheard of only moments earlier.  Even the final destination remains obscured until you actually turn that last corner.

A Nose for Trouble is the first book in the Scanner & Max Mystery Series. New
adventures loom, the empty screen begs, just as the road not yet travelled.