It is January 2005 and the charred remains of two Europeans have been discovered on the Thai island of Samui.
Local Police Chief Charoenkul, sidelined by his superiors, enlists the reluctant David Braddock, a burnt-out private detective, to assist in an ‘unofficial’ investigation.
But Braddock has problems of his own, including an affair with the same Police Chief’s wife …
Peppered with irreverent humour and some pithy comments on everyday life in the Land of Smiles, ‘Everyone Burns’ is much more than a crime novel. It is also a carefully-crafted psychological study of an anti-hero for our time
“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan was recommended to me by several friends.
The story is about a British Private Investigator and counsellor David Braddock who lives in Thailand to make his money stretch further. Braddock is a very interesting, washed out and overall really great character whom to follow is hugely entertaining. Although he has marital problems and a lot of depth there is a dubious and not so serious side to him.
Braddock gets asked by the police to assist in the investigation of a series of murders. At the same time he is being sent anonymous notes, suggesting blackmail, pointing at his affair with the wife of a colleague.
I can picture a film made from this book and I would ideally cast a Humphrey Bogard in B&W in it but fans of the genre will probably have better suggestions.
What I liked most about the book is Dolan’s writing. He is clever, perceptive and very witty. Each chapter has literary or philosophical quotations as headings and they are apt to the chapters as they bear witness to a very well read and educated writer, almost “wasted” in a crime story. I am certain that I missed lots of great references and in-jokes that pay tribute to Sherlock Holmes and other famous crime fiction but I really enjoyed the book even without catching all of them.
This book should do very well.
Interview with John:
Hi John, thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little something about yourself as both a person and an author.
What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?
Thanks, Christoph, it’s good to be here. I enjoy being in the virtual world. It means I can have the odd day without shaving and nobody complains.
I have been writing stuff ever since I was an angst-ridden teenager with spots and bad hair. In the early days it was poetry and songs. Fortunately most of those early efforts have been lost to the world during all my house-moves. I expect today I would find them cringe-worthy.
I don’t remember making a conscious decision to become a writer. I just started writing. I suppose I have something of a restless spirit and I like trying new things. Probably something in my subconscious told me to try a novel and see if I was as appalling at writing books as I was at poetry and music.
I know from your bio that you spend a lot of your time in Thailand, where your book is set. What made you decide to write what I would describe as somewhat comic crime fiction set there? Many ex-pats prefer to write about the home they are missing.
From the beginning of July, my home is now on Koh Samui. Having spent the previous fourteen months in Dubai working in the power business, I have now joined my long-suffering wife Fiona on the island. She was lumbered with supervising the building of our house while I was enjoying the high life in the U.A.E.
I’m glad you found ‘Everyone Burns’ to be funny – although the humour is somewhat dark, and likely to become darker as the series progresses. As for it being ‘crime fiction’, I guess that’s what it is, although I had no concept of genre at the outset. I suppose it’s a mystery with a dash of thriller, whereas book two in the series is a thriller with a dash of mystery. The third book probably falls under the dreaded heading of ‘love story’. Goodness knows what folks will make of it all.
Actually, as for my missing ‘home’, i.e. England, I’m not pining to return. Of course I miss family that are still UK-based, but the gypsy in me says home is wherever I happen to be now. When the north wind blows, it’s time to move on. I’m surprised I don’t sell lucky heather and live in a horse-drawn caravan really.
How did you come up with the title of your book? How do you come up with your ideas? Who or what inspired you for the main character PI Braddock?
As you know, the book has a lot of Buddhist leitmotifs in it, and I liked the image in ‘The Dhammapada’ that the whole world and everyone in it is aflame with something, be it desire, hatred or whatever. It seemed to capture the essence of the narrative, and I peppered the book with all sorts of references to heat and fire to underline the point.
How do I come up with ideas for stories and characters? I’m not sure I do. There seems to be this strange little man who lives in my head and does all that. I just write it down for him. In ancient times they would have called this a ‘muse’. The muse notion is actually quite helpful in keeping a writer grounded. If you think your book was in fact written by somebody other than you, then it stops you getting too big-headed if it becomes popular or too depressed if it doesn’t.
Did you have it all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?
I had it all planned out. Spreadsheets, the lot. I’m a complete anal retentive as far as that goes. In fairness to myself, I do need to do it that way. ‘Everyone Burns’ is the first of a series of seven books which jump forward and backward in time, so I need to keep track otherwise the whole endeavour will be a complete mess. Think Proust’s ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, but written by an Englishman with no sense of literary style.
Did you have any actors or people in mind when writing your characters?
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
I probably enjoyed writing two of the minor characters most: Braddock’s feisty pregnant assistant, Da, and the cigarette-scrounging Old Monk.
What would your main character say about you?
With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?
It would probably have to be Kat, the lady with the gorgeous body and the high sex drive. Though of course I’d pick her because of her conversation skills.
What song would you pick to go with your book?
‘Putting Out the Fire with Gasoline’ by David Bowie.
Are you like any of your characters? How so?
I share a sense of life’s absurdity and a penchant for gallows humour with the main character, David Braddock. I guess it’s inevitable he is going to have some of my traits. However, I’m nowhere near as screwed-up as he is and I would at least like to THINK I tend to more ethical behaviour than my lead character does. I’ve certainly never slept with the wife of a senior police officer. Not that I can remember anyway.
How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?
So far it has been very enjoyable. I can’t say I’ve really experienced any lows. I think I went into this whole adventure with realistic expectations of how hard it was going to be, and that’s been helpful. The unexpected high has been meeting some really fantastic people – mainly Indie authors, but not exclusively so. It has gone some way to restoring my rather jaded opinion of human nature.
What is your advice to new writers?
Think about what your objectives are. Don’t get distracted from your goals. Collaborate with fellow authors. Be active – and genuine – on social networks. Don’t get disheartened: you have embarked on a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t steal any of my ideas. To thine own self be true. And never eat anything that looks like vomit.
Who are your favourite independent writers?
In no particular order, they are B.R.Snow, Alexandria Szeman, Michelle Browne, Seumas Gallacher, Billy Ray Chitwood, Eden Baylee, Dianne Harman, Diane Strong, Fiona Quinn and Meredith Lorimar. I’ve read and enjoyed the work of other independent writers, but these are the folks who would first come to mind.
Who are your favourite authors?
I would read anything written by Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, William Boyd, Albert Camus and Haruki Murakami.
What is your favourite book?
‘The Golden Bough’ by James Frazer. Yup, I know. It’s not a novel. But it’s wonderful.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m ashamed to say I’m not reading anything at the moment, since I’m focused on getting my second novel, ‘Hungry Ghosts’, published. As soon as that’s done I have a Kindle full of great books to devour. I’ll pick one at random.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
I hope graciously. So long as you have a few good reviews under your belt from people you respect – or better still from people you don’t know – you should be able to take the odd snarky review or comment on the chin. I find these days it hardly seems like I wrote ‘Everyone Burns’ at all. I re-read it recently and it felt like it was the work of someone else. Once you’ve put that distance between yourself and your writing, I think your skin becomes less thin.
Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
The weirdest thing is I never thought I’d ever live in Thailand, but that’s not really answering your question, is it Christoph? Weird: we have two temples on the island which contain the embalmed bodies of monks. Both sit in the lotus position and both wear sunglasses. Nice: the climate and fauna here are really inspiring. Fact: Samui has lots of ‘interesting characters’. If I tell you that Thailand has no extradition treaties with most countries on the planet then you will know what sort of ‘characters’ I’m talking about.
What are you working on now?
At the time of this interview I’m putting final finishing touches to ‘Hungry Ghosts’, the second book in the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series. After that – and a short rest – I’ll be embarking on a co-writing project with author Fiona Quinn, getting the third novel in the series underway and … whatever else my fevered imagination comes up with in the meantime.
Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?
I don’t always wear a hat – just usually – and my books are all available on Amazon. Please use the ‘Look Inside’ feature before buying to see if my writing is your kind of thing. Also, if you go over to Smashwords you can download a free copy of my short story ‘Jim Fosse’s Expense Claim’ for a further taster of my ‘talent’ (such as it is). If I’m not your cup of tea, you might want to check out the Indie authors I’ve listed above.
Twitter https://twitter.com/JohnDolanAuthor @JohnDolanAuthor
Amazon Author Page US http://www.amazon.com/John-Dolan/e/B008IIERF0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1374411742&sr=8-1
Amazon Author Page UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Dolan/e/B008IIERF0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1374411800&sr=8-2
‘Everyone Burns’ Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Burns-Blood-Karma-ebook/dp/B008I6GXM2/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374411750&sr=1-1
‘Everyone Burns’ Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everyone-Burns-Blood-Karma-ebook/dp/B008I6GXM2/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374411807&sr=1-1
‘Jim Fosse’s Expense Claim’ FREE at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260738
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