Short, Sharp Interview: Ron McMillan

bangkok cowboyPDB: Can you pitch BANGKOK COWBOY in 25 words or less?

An unlikely duo of Bangkok private eyes try to chase down a missing friend before the mobsters who hired them get to her first.

PDB: What music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

Last night I re-watched Ken Loach’s ‘The Angels’ Share’. Brilliant, gritty, escapist crime caper delivered in working-class Scottish accents so thick that subtitles would be needed anywhere outside my living room. I recently enjoyed the entire run of ‘Deadwood’, which is beautifully written. The Americans seem to be writing most of the best (English language) TV drama at the moment.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

Only so long as the book’s writer delivers. Some authors don’t come close, but others, like Peter Temple (my current favourite), are savoured from beginning to end, without so much as a momentary shake of the head.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

I write documentary scripts, as well as treatments for documentaries made by B4 Films in the UK  ( www.b4films.com ). In 2013 they made a series of four programmes for PBS in America about Great Estates in Scotland. I did most of the writing of the narrator’s voice-over scripts for the four episodes.

B4 Films are also developing a feature film set in the Shetland Islands (the subject of my travel book, BETWEEN WEATHERS, Travels in 21st Century Shetland). I wrote the film’s original storyline along with the Director/Producer, Jim Brown. Watching the story develop and grow from a rough outline to a finished script (by a screenplay writer brought in for the job) has been an education in patience and faith in a project that has already been ongoing for several years. Fingers crossed, it should go into production soon. www.betweenweathers.com

As a personal project, I am writing a film screenplay involving a foreign blues musician stuck  in Ireland and suffering for his art. The first draft is complete. It’s an alien learning experience, and much work is still required.

ronPDB: How much research goes into each book?

So far as my novels go, remarkably little, but only because I have lived in Asia for most of the last thirty-five years. YIN YANG TATTOO was written from personal knowledge of South Korea gained over a period of five years when I lived there. Its central character is a professional photographer, and I freelanced as a photojournalist all over Asia for more than ten years. BANGKOK COWBOY came out of living in the Thai capital, and grew from a nugget inspired by an actual murder witnessed by friends in the same sleazy street where the book’s opening scene takes place. The rest draws on inspiration gained from reading crime novels since I was a kid. One day at the local library, my Dad suggested I take out ‘A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING’, from John D. MacDonald’s wonderful Travis McGee series. I was fourteen years old, and that was the start of an ongoing, unbroken love affair with all things crime-fiction related.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I’m beginning to learn how important they might have to be if I am to get word of BANGKOK COWBOY to enough people to make it a success. My novice tweeter status is a glaring handicap.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

The sequel to BANGKOK COWBOY, provisionally entitled BANGKOK BLUE, is already in the works, and I hope to see the BETWEEN WEATHERS film go into production in Shetland, either this year or next. There are also two other unfinished novels to think about. I’m never short of pipedreams to chase.

Bio: Ron McMillan.  Author of three books, with more on the way.

The latest, Bangkok Cowboy, is a crime thriller set in Thailand that introduces two new central characters – Mason & Dixie, private eyes working the murky underworld of one of the most fascinating capitals in the world. The sequel to Bangkok Cowboy is in the works.

My previous crime thriller, set in South Korea, is Yin Yang Tattoo. Well received by the critics, it is available paperback and in print. It is published by Sandstone Press in the United Kingdom.

BETWEEN WEATHERS, Travels in 21st Century Shetland, is published by Sandstone Press. Nominated shortly after publication for the prestigious Saltire Society Awards, it continues to sell well, and is the inspiration behind a feature film, also called BETWEEN WEATHERS, that is currently in pre-production, with filming scheduled for spring 2014.

A writer and photographer based for most of the last thirty years in Asia, I worked from a Hongkong base for ten years between 1988 and 1998, visiting most parts of the region on multiple occasions, on photo assignments for magazines in the USA and Europe including Time, Newsweek, Businessweek, Fortune and L’Express.

I now spend a large part of the year in Thailand. More information and contact details are at my website, http://www.ronmcmillan.com

Follow me on Twitter: @MasonDixieBooks