Brett Battles is a rising star in the thriller world, the author of three novels in the Jonathan Quinn "Cleaner" series: The Cleaner, The Deceived, and Shadow of Betrayal. Brett's books take the reader everywhere in the world at supersonic speed, although he shares with me (Tim Hallinan) a special love for Asia. There are lots of good reasons to read Brett -- strong stories, great characters, and pace that leaves streaks on the page.
Hi, my name is Brett Battles, and I’m a non-recovering international thriller writer. It’s a disease I never want to get over. I mean, why would I? I get to blend the two activities I enjoy most (next to spending time with my kids) – writing and traveling!
If I can’t get out of the country (the U.S.) at least once a year, I go crazy. I NEED to set my feet on foreign soil. I NEED to know what it’s like not to be the native. I NEED to remind myself that what I know as common place, is not always common place everywhere, and that the way I know how to do things may be right where I come from, it is not always right where I am. It is humbling and it is enlightening and it is freeing.
My stories often use the places I’ve been. Saigon. Berlin. Singapore. London. Paris. Brussels. Hong Kong…you get the idea. I use these places because the inspire me. I use these places because when I visit them, I fall in love with them. I don’t think there’s anywhere I’ve ever been that I haven’t found something to like about it.
Often I travel alone, which, given the fact that I’m kind of an introvert might seem like a bad idea. But it works well for me. See, when I go some place I like to just wander and explore, to just observe the people who live there, see what they do, watch how they interact. Sometimes I might just find someplace that won’t care if I sit around all day…an outdoor restaurant, a relaxed bar, a coffee shop – and I watch the world go by.
Yes, I do my fair share of interacting also, but I’d venture to guess a high percentage of the world, if they were to observe my habits, would think I was having a boring time. Well, they’d be wrong. Seriously, and completely wrong.
I remember one day in the summer of 2001 while working on a job that had me in Berlin for four months that I just go on the S-bahn (with the U-bahn, basically the train/subway system that serves the city) and road the route that circumnavigated the entire city. I can’t remember how long this took. I want to say between one and two hours. But it was great. I sat and watch Berlin go by. I observed the other passengers. I probably even read a little while.
I mentioned how traveling inspires me. Well, it was somewhere on one of those trains in Berlin when the character Jonathan Quinn came to me. He’s the lead of my series, and one day he just kind of decided to sit with me as I rode through town.
That’s far from the only time something like that’s happened to me.
Recently I traveled to Thailand. At the time, the Red Shirt protests were basically in the non-violent stage. What’s happened since my return has sadden me, and has me checking the news constantly because I have many friends in the Thai capital, and it is a place I love very much.
I don’t want to get into the troubles there in this post, because I feel inadequately educated to do this complicated issue justice. Instead, I would love to share a bit of what I experienced on that last trip, something that will help explain why I love Thailand so much.
I bring this up because I know I’m going to get at least one story out of it, and probably more than that. It was overwhelming, humorous, tiring, frustrating, hilarious, and wet. Did I mention wet? And everywhere my mind saw stories.
I would suggest everyone should attend this festival at least once in their life. You don’t have to hang around for the whole time, but put one day in. You won’t be disappointed. After, I’m sure you will agree with me that no one celebrates their new year quite as well as the Thais.
The world is a place to be experienced, and shared, and enjoyed, and nurtured, and cared for. And we’re the ones who need to be doing that. Thanks, Tim (and all the other great contributors and writers here at Murder is Everywhere). I appreciate the opportunity to ramble for a while.
And for those interested in checking out my books, the third in my Jonathan Quinn series, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, was just released in paperback here in the States, joining THE CLEANER and THE DECEIVED in that go-anywhere format!
Saturday, July 3