Author bio:Owen Jones was born in Barry, South Wales, where he lived until going to Portsmouth to study Russian at 18. After finishing his degree, he moved to s'Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands where he lived for ten years.
At 32, Owen moved back to Barry to work with in his family's construction company, first as a painter and then as a director, or, as the bank once corrected him, a painter and decorator. He was also office manager for ten years.
At the age of 50 Owen moved to Thailand to live with a Thai girl that he met while there on holiday. He married the woman and now lives in her village of birth in remote northern Thailand.
As Owen puts it:
'Born in the Land of Song, living in the Land of Smiles'.
Brief synopsis of your book:Lek was born the eldest child of four in a typical rice farming family. She did not expect to do anything any different from the other girls in her class in the northern rice belt of Thailand.
Typically that would be: work in the fields for a few years; have a few babies; give them to mum to take care of and get back to work until her kids had their own children and it would be her turn to stop working to take care of them.
One day a catastrophe occurred out of the blue – her father died young and with huge debts that the family knew nothing about. Lek was twenty and she was the only one who could prevent foreclosure. However, the only way she knew was to go to work in her cousin’s bar in Pattaya.
She went as a waitress-cum-cashier, but when she realised that she was pregnant by her worthless, estranged husband, things had to change. She had the baby, gave it to her mother to look after and went back to work. However, now she needed real money to provide a better life for her child and to make up for spending its whole youth 500 miles away. She drifted into the tourist sex industry.
The book relates some of her ‘adventures’, her dreams and nightmares and her ‘modus operandi’. It tries to show, from Lek’s point of view, what it really is like to be a Thai bar girl – the hopes and frustrations, the hopes and the let-downs, the hopes and the lies and deceit that are part of her every day life.
One day she meets a man she likes and he likes her too. Nothing new there, it had happened hundreds of times before, but she feels that it is different this time. They have a wonderful four weeks together and then he goes home – as they all had, leaving more promises and more hopes.
This one returns, but real life with a real boyfriend is not as easy as she had dreamed it would be. They go through good and bad times, but will they stay together and for how long?
After all she has been through, will she be able to be a regular girlfriend or even a wife again? Will she ever really be able to trust a man enough again either? Or would she be better off giving up her dreams and carrying on working in the bar?
Lek begins to find out that getting what you wish for is not always as good as you thought it would be.
refers to the fact that Thailand is known the world over as 'The Land of Smiles'.
trilogy that I have just finished is called
“Behind The Smile – The Story of
Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya.”
three books are:
Current book or project you’re working on:
I am currently working on a series of novellas about the spiritual development of a teenage girl called Megan. The first story is already out and is called ‘The Misconception’, the second will be published this month, but I am not sure of the title yet. Perhaps, it will be ‘Megan’s 13th Birthday’.
What was the inspiration for your novel?
My inspiration for the trilogy, was the first year that I lived in Thailand. Many girls told me their stories, because they trusted my wife, who is also Thai.
Please share three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) Most of the references in the trilogy are factual and places can be found.
2) The vast majority of the girls working in Pattaya are there to fulfil a financial goal, not through coercion or exploitation. They see it as ‘a job’.
3) The ‘sex industry’ in Thailand does not carry the stigma that many Western women think it ought to because Asians do not think like Westerners. They generally find it comical and hypocritical for the girls to be pitied, when most tourist, Western men just want to join in.
Who is the most complex character from your current novel?
Lek, the heroine, is the most complex character, in the series.
Are there any characters in your book that remind you of yourself?
Craig shares characteristics with myself, but we are not completely the same.
If you could pick any well known or famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
I’m sorry, but I cannot answer this question because I have been living in isolated, rural Thailand for nearly 10 years. Nobody but my wife and I speak English for a radius of 10 miles. The three other foreigners that I know do not read and never have done.The nearest bookshop is 500 km away.
And anyway, I would rather write than read these day.
What genre does your book fall into?
This series is in the genre of, I don’t know. A friend and I cannot work it out. He says ‘Character-driven fiction’, I suggest ‘Fictional biography’. Please let me know what you think.
What is the first book you remember reading, that affected how you thought or felt about something?
‘Fathers and Sons’.
Have you ever read a book you couldn’t finish reading?
There was one by a famous author, but I just looked on my shelves and it is not there, so I must have given it away.
Do you read a book, while you are writing a book?
No, never, ever
How many books have you written? Which book is your favourite and why?
I have written seven books now. Lek1 – Daddy’s Hobby, my first is my favourite, but some readers tell me that the sequel is better. That is nice to hear, but the first novel, eh? I slaved and agonised for seven years over that book.
Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?
I do not have a problem getting in the mood to write. Many years ago, I read a quote at the bottom of my page-a-day diary, it was “If you want to write, write for at least ten minutes a day.” I love that, because once I put ‘pen to paper’ I cannot stop. So, ten minutes soon turns into 3,000 – 5,000 words, but then I write professionally, in that I do not have another day job.
What were three challenges you faced when publishing your book?
1) My family, they thought that the first book was ‘ a bit rude’. I said that it is about the sex industry and asked them to count the rude bits, they said there were three or four (in 112k words!).
2) Publishers. I read he etiquette (submit to one at a time and give them three months to reply). I lost a year and they did not even have the courtesy to reply. They are not my favourite people.
3) Time, of course. You want to get on with the next book, but there is no point, if the first one is not selling, even if you think that it is not selling because no-one knows that it exists. Promotion is very hard.
What lessons have you learned as an aspiring writer?
I have learned that there is a readership, but no-one is going to find it for you. Writing is the pleasurable side of being an author, but promotion is the reality.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to ‘overcome’?
I do not suffer from writers’ block, or if I do, I just do something else for a while, a few seconds. Look out the window or take a swig of water and if that doesn’t shift it I go to the corner shop with my exercise book and my laptop and drink beer until I have an idea.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned, either in the self-publishing or traditional publisher, route?
That you are on your own in your efforts. Yes, you can form alliances and do mutual promos, but that only detracts from your own efforts. You need to keep it interesting, then others will want to join in and then you can share with them too. I just reread that and it sounds awful, but there you go…
How long does it usually take for you to complete a book?
This is a strange question. How long is the book? Is it your first? What is it about?
My first book took me seven years.
The sequel took four months.
The final in the trilogy took 40 days, but I wrote two other short books in that time as well.
In July, I wrote 150k words in three books.
If you do 3-5k a day, it is possible.
Do you have any ideas for your book and Hollywood? Actors, directors, music.
Yes, most certainly Lucy Liu as Lek and directed by Oliver Stone.
Do you study science, the planets, history or anything special to help you with your writing?
No, I can’t say that I do, but I have always been interested in the night sky and loved Star Trek.
What, who, and when were you first inspired you to write?
Me. I did. But now that I have a few books under my belt, very old friends are saying that they told me I should be writing ‘30 years ago’.
I don’t know about that, maybe Dylan was right that ‘a man hears hat he wants to hear and disregards the rest’.
Drink – beer
Food – roast beef and all the rest
Vacation – I am Welsh, but I live in Thailand and I love it
TV show – I don’t watch TV, but I used to like ‘Columbo’
Movie – Butch Cassidy
Animal – Dog
Sport – Rugby
Book – Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your book?