A lifetime ago it seems now, I honeymooned with my wife on the small Malaysian island resort of Pangkor Laut. A beautiful serene place with wooden rooms on stilts reaching out into the sea, jungles and beaches ruled by giant lizards, troops of monkeys and strange exotic birds and bats.
It was a far departure away from our normal lives and we knew it would be a one-off. Never to be repeated or forgotten.
Normally restless explorers, this time we found ourselves on loungers, books in hands and listening to the island. I was reading one of Robert Lewis’ (Welsh Noir Writer/The Last Llanelli Train) books at the time. The dust jacket said ‘…mixing purest noir with some very, very black comedy.’
When I finished the book and handed it to my wife, she was only a few pages into it, leant over, smiled and then quite seriously said: ‘did you write this?’
I walked up the beach to a beach hut bar with a leaf canopy roof to refill our drinks, avoiding giant monitor lizards. A giant hornbill bird propped up the bar counter as it scrounged for nuts. I was instantly intrigued why the bar had such a Brit-sounding name: ‘Chapman’s Bar’.
I read in a sun-bleached flyer stapled to the bar countertop that (Comando, Freddy Spencer) Chapman, whom the bar took its name from, was quite an extreme explorer, a WWII veteran, mountaineer, survivalist, behind enemy lines gorilla and somewhat of an unsung hero. He’d been captured and escaped several times in harsh environments and conditions as he made the jungle and people he encountered his ally. Surviving, existing and thriving in unbelievable conditions and circumstances.
Apparently, a field marshall wrote: ‘…but for sheer courage and endurance, physical and mental, he stands an example of what toughness the body will find if the spirit within is tough.’
As fascinated as I was, I didn’t get much further into my Chapman research and its soon marriage to my own past and future, co-joined with some of the noir and dirty-realism of Lewis’ books, when…
those hell-bent pirates landed 😉
The Black Viking Thriller books have been a roller coaster ride to write, read and edit. Emotionally, and on an existential: what if? what was? and could have been?
I was shoehorned onto a crime fiction shelf early on in my writing career and so was keen to both celebrate and explode that here (in Viking). To re-explore my roots in dirty realism and Lynchian style neo-noir and its importance to me within the overall Black Viking Thrillerworld and the books’ story arcs for the reader.
The Norse symbol (Matrix of Fate) on the cover of Viking is to suggest an interconnectedness between all the books, characters and places—that all the stories are trapped in evolving cyclic events, starting over again and reborn in this book—in thoughts, events and ideas, re-written and re-read. Made real by the author in writing it and starting over (in me and the protagonist). And also, made real by the reader, reading it.
Viking confirms a Mobius strip of events, characters and interactions between author and reader by which the reader can go back to the preceding books and reread over again with a new outlook, peel layers back and discover another way of looking at the books.
Intended a grit-lit novella and tropical neo-noir ‘Lost Highway’ homage—it’ll soon be released and the distorted mirror it once held up to me will be shattered.
It’ll be free to be whatever the readers see; of themselves in a story that’s as real as they choose it to be.
‘The Viking Web of Wyrd/Matrix of Fate’ is a symbol in Norse mythology that represents the interconnectedness of past, present and future
‘A neo-noir honeymoon from hell.’
He thought he’d given both up to start over. The drinking…and the killing.
Ghosts haunt John and Cherry’s honeymoon escape in the jungles of Malaysia and Borneo as the release of nihilist criminals linked to John’s past triggers death and destruction back home.
When their luxury island resort is raided by savage pirates, it’s clear everything is connected and they can’t hide from destiny. To love, hate—kill or be killed. And most of all, the ghosts that haunt them are as real as they are.
Past, present and future. Forever trapped in a matrix of fate.
‘Love, hate, kill…repeat.’
VIKING [ The Jungle Turned Black ] Out October 3rd 2022
with Red Dog Press