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Expat interview – Jake Needham (Part 3)


BE: Given your prominence as one of the top English-language fiction writers in Asia, are you recognised by strangers when you go out?

Jake Needham: Yeah, that happens a lot when I’m in Asia, but I don’t think it has ever happened in the States.

I have decidedly mixed feelings about it when it does happen. It’s nice, of course, to be reminded that people have connected sufficiently with some book I’ve written that they want to say hello and tell me they enjoyed it. On the other hand, the persona of a novelist is a little like being a spy. You want to observe the world around you without being observed by it. And I always find myself wondering, for every person who recognises me and introduces himself, how many people recognise me and say nothing? It’s a little unnerving to think about it that way.

Do you mostly read eBooks or print books these days?

I read most fiction in electronic form and most nonfiction in print editions. Overall, I’d say I’m about fifty-fifty.

Jake, many thanks for taking the time to talk to the British Expat readers about your life and work. It’s been fascinating to have your insights about being a long term expat in South East Asia, and about being a successful novelist. We wish you all the best with your next book too.

For those who haven’t yet discovered Jake Needham’s novels, or indeed for fans who haven’t yet read all of them, here’s a selection for you to try. By the way, The Umbrella Man (the second in the Inspector Sam Tay series), is currently on a special promotion. But, what the heck, with eBook prices as they are, you might as well just get whatever you fancy.

Buy the books!

You can find Jake’s books in the Kindle Store:

Inspector Samuel Tay series

The Inspector Samuel Tay series by Jake Needham

Jack Shepherd series

Jake Needham's Jack Shepherd series

and the book that started it all off…

The Big Mango

“The Big Mango” by Jake Needham

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3 Responses to “Expat interview – Jake Needham (Part 3)”

  1. Theodore Koukouvitis

    An interesting and novel interview of Jake Needham I enjoyed thoroughly. Arguably part 2 was the juiciest of the three, as reading about self-publishing about an author who actually does it successfully is infinite times more valuable than the hollow advice of so-called gurus.

    Thank you for making this interview happen. I sure hope many eyeballs get to see this as it can act as a reality check for those with overly romantic hopes about making it big with a hastily put together eBook.

  2. John Rebell

    I also liked the interview. Being both a fiction writer and an ex-pat who has lived in Thailand, and written about Thailand, I can understand exactly where he is coming from.

    What Jake is saying about the reception most American ex-pats get in the US is right on. Most Americans simply can’t conceive of living anywhere else and there is something, in their minds, sort of suspicious about anyone who does. A criminal or terrorist, in other words. Someone fleeing from someone, instead of someone running towards something different. I remember when I went to Vietnam to marry my wife the common comment was “Why? Are you a Communist? They’ll kill you, you know.” If you’re living in Thailand, then there is always the sexual element. The unspoken conclusion is, you must be a pervert, or can’t get laid in the USA.

    As humorous (Or sad) as it is, it can be challenging for a lot of people who come back. You’re (Culturally) punished for it. For example any stint in Asia for a prolonged period, you can just about forget getting a job back in the US. Unless it was working for an American company. (That’s different!) It’s looked on with a high degree of suspicion by HR. Luckily, I’m self-employed and can look on most of these cultural eccentricities with the humor they deserve.

    His insights into the writing and publishing life are also right on the money from what I’ve experienced.

    Hat off to Jake for living life on his terms! I’ll check out your books and I wish you the best of luck in the future. Keep writing and keep living life the way it was meant to be lived, with excitement, wonder, and doing what makes you happy.

  3. Jake Needham

    Theodore and John, thanks so much for your very nice comments. There is no greater compliment to a writer than people responding to something we have written by telling us that we struck a chord of recognition with them. I’ve always wondered why there are so few novels rooted in the expat experience. The great tradition of expat novelists pretty well vanished with Hemingway’s death. I’ve done my best to bring it back, but…

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