Short, Sharp Interview: Jake Needham

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PDB: What’s going on now?

I just published THE DEAD AMERICAN, the third title in my Inspector Tay series, so a lot of my time right now is going into marketing rather than into writing another book. That’s not what I really want to do with my life, but there you are. It’s the price we writers pay these days for the privilege of being part of this brave new world of publishing…

PDB: How did you research this book?

I didn’t have to. Inspector Tay is a CID cop in Singapore and I’ve lived and worked in Singapore and hung out with cops and intelligence officers there since way back in the early eighties. I know the place already about as well as any white guy can.

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

Oh, man, there’s no way you’re going to get me to answer that one. Both my Inspector Tay series and my Jack Shepherd series have passionate fans, and I’m not about to piss any of them off by picking a book from the other series. How about me just saying something like this: ‘Whichever one my wife is most proud of…’

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

I stopped writing screenplays when I realized I really didn’t like movies very much; I never listen to anything except classical music and opera; and I only watch news and sports on television.

I do read books, of course. A whole lot of books, both fiction and nonfiction. My favourite is generally the one I’m just about to start.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

All of my crime novels are set in contemporary Asian cities – places like Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong – and I always strive to make those cities real to readers. I want them to become characters in my books.

The Singapore Straits Times wrote in a review a few years ago that, “Jake Needham is Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction.” The Bangkok Post wrote in another review, “In his power to bring the street-level flavor of contemporary Asian cities to life, Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.”

Every writer wants reviewers to like his books, of course, but I’m always particularly proud when reviewers say my settings feel real to them. If major Asian newspapers think my books get their cities right, I figure I’m doing okay.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Almost never. If I’m doing some kind of promotion on Amazon, I may glance at the rankings to see how the promotion is going, but other than that…well, never. Seriously.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m working on a stand-alone novel called DEVIL MAKES THREE that will be out in summer 2015. This is the first book I’ve written in nearly fifteen years that’s not part of either the Inspector Tay series or the Jack Shepherd series so I’m really enjoying it. I’m proud that both of my two series have built up pretty significant fan bases over the years, but keeping two series going at the same time is hard work. Suddenly doing this stand-alone I almost feel like I’m on holiday.

jakeBio: JAKE NEEDHAM is an American screen and television writer who began writing crime novels when he realized he didn’t really like movies and television very much. Mr. Needham has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for over twenty-five years. He is a lawyer by education and has held a number of significant positions in both the public and private sectors where he took part in a lengthy list of international operations he has absolutely no intention of telling you about. He, his wife, and their two sons now divide their time between homes in Thailand and the United States.

You can learn more about Jake Needham at his official website: JakeNeedham.com.