Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday July 14 2014
Vietnam a ‘High Risk’ country?
Vietnam it seems for Australians is a ‘high risk’ country.  That’s what I learned from a grumpy Australian Immigration official who ‘interrogated’ when on my return to Australia at Brisbane airport a few days ago.
I have been visiting Vietnam for many years and this is the first time I have been subject to such an ordeal.  It’s no doubt due to the frequency of my visits and perhaps reflects a change in the official view of Australian Customs and Immigration.
When I asked the purpose of the questions and told I had been to ‘a high risk country’ I said, “in what sense?”  “Drugs and paedophiles” came the curt reply.  I nearly laughed in his face because if that was the criteria, then I was about to enter another ‘high risk country’.  Australia has its share of paedophiles and an acknowledged big drug problem.  By rights, when I entered Vietnam, their Immigration should have pulled me aside because there is no doubt using that Australian Immigration guy’s reasoning, Vietnam would have been within their rights to interrogate me.
When the questioning had finished, the guy scribbled a symbol on my entry form handed it back to me and grunted, ‘all good”. As I stepped away from him I thought, “I bet it isn’t.”   And I was right!  When I gave it to another official, this time in Customs, I was directed to an X-Ray machine and told to “sit down and wait for someone to speak to you”.
A few minutes later a 30+ something woman came and proceeded to search thru my luggage, which consisted of my suitcase, small travelling hold-all and computer case.  Of course she found nothing untoward and I was allowed to leave.
I left the airport tired after a long flight in which I barely slept a wink and a little upset.  Of course I realise and understand these people are only doing what is a very important and necessary job.  But when I thought about the lovely, gentle Vietnamese people I had left who over the years, had shown me nothing but kindness and friendship it made me sad to think that their country, the safest in south-east Asia is still regarded as ‘high risk’ by my country.   Australia today has capital cities awash with violence; bashings, shootings, home invasion, rape and petty crime.  Major cities in Vietnam including Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi have nowhere near this level of violence, drugs and paedohilia. 
For safety and free of drugs and paedophiles, give me “high risk” Vietnam any time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

5th June 2014
No one smiles in The Land of Smiles anymore.
Next week, Tuesday 10th June, I will return to Saigon.  Over the years I have come to this city via Bangkok where I would spend a few days visiting friends and get my Vietnam visa.  Thailand in general and Bangkok in particular is a place I have come to love.  It is a great city full of wonderful shops, department stores, markets and lovely people.
But alas, my beloved Bangkok is being torn apart; riven with hatred by rival groups causing the army to step in and enforce martial law.  The effect of all this will be like a stone being thrown into a pond.  It will send a damaging ripple throughout the entire economy not the least of which will be their tourism industry upon which the country relies so much.   Millions on the poverty line who rely on tourism for their meagre income will be further disadvantaged perhaps causing even more unrest. 
I do not know who is right and who is wrong in this conflict but I do know this:  The Thais are wonderful, gentle people with a generous spirit.  My fervent hope is that sooner rather than later, wise heads will prevail and this great country will return once more to becoming what we know it to be…“The Land of Smiles”.

My latest book, “The Last Tuk Tuk to Bang Na” is set in Thailand.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday 15th April 2014

How time flies. It’s been over three months since I last blogged.  So what?  John Locke who sells millions of fiction ebooks only blogs a couple of times a year.  What’s good for that John is good enough for this John.
I’ve been thinking about Blogging and wondering about all these people who spend their life Blogging.  And from what I can gather they write about all kinds of stuff a lot of which I reckon would bore the backside of many people.
Why do they do it?  Is it some kind of compulsive obsessive that makes them do it?  Or are they just know-all pains in the bum who like to show the world how much they know about something?
I am a writer so supposedly I should love to do it but frankly while I can sit down and write about Steve Conway’s misadventures when it comes to finding something to blog about, as you can see if you have read this far, I’ve got bugger all to write about.  I look back on previous blogs and see I was bleating about my health problems…and I am here complaining about what bloggers write!
Things have been quiet in recent times as I have lazily danced around the writing of Conway’s latest adventures set in China in “The Last Rickshaw”.  I don’t know about these bloggers but I do know that many novelists (me included) can find 100 things to do rather than write.  To be brutally honest it’s fear of failure.  Will this one be as good as the last? Will it be as popular? Bring in a wider audience? Or will it be regarded as a load of crap that won’t rate at all. Of course there’s only one way to find out and that’s to write the damn thing.
To be perfectly honest I like writing Conway.  I can see him and hear him.  I actually like him and wish I was more like him. I think a lot of novelists feel the same way about their characters.  I bet a shrink could explain it all to me but for the moment I will continue to avoid any professional critique, it might damage my ego beyond repair.
At the time of writing Conway is in Shanghai.  The Down Under Corporation for whom he works has decided to move into China and have selected the exotic and booming city of Shanghai to put up their shingle and have sent Conway in to scout out locations.
He’s hardly hit the place when he meets a beautiful (of course) Chinese woman who happens to work for the biggest gangster in town.  Conway doesn’t know that yet but he is soon to find out and once again find himself in the….well, a lot of trouble.
I hope you will bear with me while I figure out how to get him out of this current strife and be there when at the end…all is revealed.

Thanks for reading my books and for your kind words…you’re the best.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 2013 Blog
23rd December 2013

I think it must be time for another blog. I really don’t know much about this blogging business. You can go on Youtube and sit through endless videos on how to blog and what to avoid. I can’t remember any of it. 
There is no doubt Youtube is a superb educational tool and serves a great purpose with the amazing amount of information on just about any subject.  It can also be a great time-waster and distractor because you look for one topic and finish up an hour later still in front of your computer watching something completely different.
But I digress.  The purpose of this blog was to review my year.  It started with a short trip to China to gather material for my latest novel, “The Last Rickshaw”.  I spent a pleasant week in Huizhou, southern China.  A beautiful clean, modern city of lakes not unlike Hanoi.  Would definitely like to revisit.  China is an eye-opener in every respect and for those who have never been my advice is…go!
A couple of trips back to Vietnam, one of my very favourite countries this year resulted in two television interviews with major TV stations, VTV3 and VTC10.  The focus of course was on my novels especially The Last Cyclo to Thanh Da set in Vietnam.  I was greatly impressed by the professionalism and expertise of the film crews of both companies.  These interviews can be seen by clicking on the “News and Events” segment of this website.
Health problems forced me to return to Australia prematurely in October. I arrived home on a Thai flight full of bronchitis caused I am sure by a freezing air con above me although this was not the health reason I came home.  I have three stents which means there is always the ever-present likelihood of ongoing heart problems.  A couple of warning signs sent me scurrying to the airline office for a flight only to be told all flights were full for the next three weeks.
Right there and then those three stents all tried to close up…or at least it felt like it!  But help was at hand.  A lovely Vietnamese friend who had previously worked for Thai came to my rescue and somehow got me on a flight within a few days.  I was waitlisted so naturally had to take what I could get, thus a seat with two large gents and a freezing aircon above me at the back of the plane was my fate, but at least I was home and able to speak to my own doctor before anything untoward happened.
All this time I had been working on The Last Rickshaw with the thought that it would be finished before Christmas but sadly life interfered and it was not to be.  Surgery to remove another menacing melanoma shortly after I arrived home didn’t help my creative juices especially after I had just embarked on a fitness routine…that went straight out the window.   However all is well now, stitches out and will resume exercises again soon…but with Christmas and all that goes with it, there will be more inches gained, so more to remove…!

Anyway enough of all this stuff!  I hope you have all had a very good year, and that this Christmas is full of love, joy and hope…and next year is your best ever!

Many thanks for your support, it means so much.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Hello again from sunny Saigon. I came here this time from my native Australia for a number of reasons which included an appearance on VTV3, the largest TV channel in Vietnam for their program, Trong Tim Toi, Vietnam In My Heart. It turned out to be an interesting experience indeed with a very professional Vietanmese crew.
The focus of course was about my books, in particular, The Last Cyclo to Thanh Da set in Vietnam where our redoubtable hero Steve Conway, a Vietnam war veteran returns to look for an old war-time friend, falls in love with a Vietnamese girl and then all kinds of complications follow with cross cultural difficulties, a jealous local suitor and a deranged ex marine stalking our hero with murderous intent.
The director of the TV crew for this program cleverly decided that since there was a cyclo in the title of the book, the interview should take place on a cyclo. So for the best part of three hours the interviewer, Nguyen Khang and I rode around District 1 of Saigon on separate cyclos for the interview. It had its moments because anyone who has ever been to Saigon knows just how heavy and how crazy the traffic can be. At times one felt rather vulnerable as cars, buses, heavy goods vehicles and a million motorcycles roared by within inches of our fragile three-wheelers. Khang admitted it was the scariest interview he had done. We finished strolling in a park with the famous Reunification Palace as a backdrop.
Part One of the program went to air on Saturday September 7 all over Vietnam. Part Two followed the next day. I am pleased to say the feedback from Vietnamese people I have spoken to and who have contacted me by email and sms, has been positive.
Following the VTV3 interview I was contacted by a producer from another TV channel, VTC10 for their program “Vietnam Impressions”. We did a three-day shoot in various locations, including my apartment in District 1, and Thanh Da on the outskirts of Saigon. The final scenes were shot in District 2 looking across at the impressive cityscape in the final rays of the setting sun. I think these scenes could well be a highlight of the program. I will post the link to this program on this site and in my Facebook pages, John J Pullinger Author and John Pullinger.
My VTV3 interview is available in the “News and Events”section of this website.
Thanks again to all my loyal readers for their support. I love you all and I promise to be a little bit more regular with my blogs.
Saigon 5th October 2013 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hello Everyone,
Yes, I know I have been pretty slack of late. It’s been months since I last blogged.  Having read quite a few blogs by others which often seem nothing more than an exercise in self-indulgence, I’m conscious of trying not to do the same. 
I am happy and relieved to tell you that The Last Tuk Tuk to Bang Na has been very well received, some even saying they felt it was my best book yet.  However as we all know, taste is subjective and each seems to have it’s particular following among readers.  Personally, I am loath to choose  a favourite, I leave that up to you.
I was going to leave the Conway series at a trilogy but the response from you and interest in Steve’s adventures has me now writing a fourth book, tentatively entitled, “The Last Rickshaw”.   From the title you will realise it is set in China…well, that’s the idea but in process of writing a novel things  change.  Often, even I don’t know what is going to happen next.  It’s a weird experience at times but as I write it unfolds in my mind like a movie.   I can see the characters, what they are doing and saying.  But as American writer Elmore Leonard said, “writing is rewriting” and I do plenty of that.  My mantra is “Review, Revise and Rewrite”.
Thank you all for your kind remarks for all of my books. It is so gratifying and humbling to know that they are so well received by both men…and women.
Bye for now and see you in the next book.

Saigon.  July 2013

Monday, November 26, 2012

The last word of the manuscript has been written.  Every word, comma, full stop and punctuation mark has been pored over a hundred times.  Words have been changed, sentences rewritten, paragraphs omitted, never to see the light of day.  Countless pages have been screwed up and thrown in the rubbish bin beneath my desk.
The manuscript has been sent off to the publisher after much discussion and sometimes dissention.  The  cover, font size and style,  and interior layout is the subject of many emails back and forth until agreement is reached with the fervent hope in the author’s breast that what has been agreed upon will actually take place and please both parties.
The author waits nervously for the masterpiece that has been sweated over for so long and then the big day arrives…a knock on the door, a small parcel is handed over, signed for and feverishly unwrapped and there it is…after months, sometimes years…the author’s copy.
It looks and feels fantastic!  The publisher has done a wonderful job, the cover, the text, the layout, even the writing looks better now it is in book form. It’s almost as if some kind of metaphysical change has taken place.
But now comes the hard part…the promotion.  These days whether the author is backed by a big publishing house or self publishes, much of the promotion of the book into the public domain is in the hands of the author.  This is time consuming, expensive and more often than not…frustrating and unrewarding.   Certainly as most people would be aware, it is not the most lucrative of professions and that is putting it mildly unless you are a John Grisham, Lee Child, Jeffrey Archer et al however…when a reader says things like, “loved your book” , “a great read” “couldn’t put it down” and…  “when is the next one coming out?”
That makes it all worthwhile and that is what keeps us scribblers returning to the blank page and start again. The bottom line is, we write for YOU.
We thank you for taking the time to tell us, it means more than you will ever know.