Interview: Jake Needham

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I am pleased to present an interview with the exceedingly cool and knowledgeable Jake Needham, described by The Straits Times as “Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction”!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

JN: No. Good. At. Such. Questions.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

umbrella_man

Excerpt: Tay had no idea what time it was when he eventually slipped off to sleep, but he woke in the night to the sound of rain splashing against his windows and bouncing off the brick pavers in his garden.

He had just had that dream again.

There had been lights. There were always lights. They swirled in the air likes pieces of a shattered mirror propelled by a whirlwind. And his mother had spoken to him from somewhere outside in the rain.

It was a dream he had had several times since his mother died, but when he woke he could never remember what she had said to him. Nothing good, he imagined. His mother had never been happy with his career choice and after he became a policeman she gradually seemed to lose interest in him altogether. After she moved to New York and remarried, he seldom heard from her at all, but to be fair she seldom heard from him either. Over the last fifteen or twenty years they had just gradually slipped out of each other’s lives. It seemed impossible that a man could lose track of his mother, or a mother could lose track of her son, but that was exactly what had happened.

Tay figured he and his mother had communicated more in his dreams over the last year than they had in life during all of the twenty years that had come before. The only problem was, when he woke from his dreams, he could not for the life of him remember what it was they had communicated about.

Tay hoped, at the very least, he had finally said some of the things he should have said to his mother before she died, some of the things he knew now he had wanted to say to her all along. It was a phenomenon he found himself experiencing more and more often recently. People kept dying before Tay could tell them the things he wanted to tell them. The older he got, the more distant his connections to the world became, and the more people there were whom he knew he had failed to communicate with as well as he should.

A progression like that, Tay knew, did not bode particularly well for his future.

— THE UMBRELLA MAN (An Inspector Samuel Tay novel)

Blurb: “In his raw power to bring the street-level flavor of contemporary Asian cities to life, Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.” – The Bangkok Post

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

JN: I don’t have a favorite author. Honestly, I don’t. I read contemporary fiction constantly and have what most would probably call rather middlebrow taste. Yes, there are authors whose new books I look forward to — such as James Lee Burke, David Ignatius, Stephen Hunter, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Sandford, Charles McCarry, Nelson DeMille, and Martin Cruz Smith — but there’s no particular author I could come even close to labeling as my favorite.

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

JN: It’s unexplored territory, as least as far as mainstream fiction goes. I’m not at all sure I could bring a fresh enough eye to a novel set in Los Angeles, or New York, or London, or Paris to make you see and smell the place. You already know all about them, or think you do. But when I take you to Hong Kong or Dubai or Singapore, you are less certain of your ground. Then you’re all mine…

Once upon a time, Jake Needham got incredible press coverage in Singapore — two huge features in The Straits Times and pieces in darn near every other local publication as well. Then THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE came out and there was no more press coverage overnight. For all the details, check out this interview HERE, which makes for rather interesting reading…so I asked Mr. Needham the following question: How have your experiences with the media in Singapore influenced you, as an individual and/or as a writer?

JN: Not at all, really. I write what interests me, and people read what interests them. I can’t see that whether I am a popular figure with the authorities and the mass media in Singapore is relevant to much of anything. Anyway, not being able to go back to Singapore again is about as disturbing as being barred from having a prostate examination.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

JN: Anything I enjoy reading.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the crime fiction genre:

JN: Don’t take yourself or your work too seriously. We’re entertainers. We’re not responsible for the survival of the species.

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JAKE NEEDHAM is an American screen and television writer who began writing crime novels and legal thrillers when he realized he really didn’t like movies and television very much. He is a lawyer by education and has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for over twenty-five years. He, his wife, and their two sons now divide their time between homes in Thailand and the United States.

THE DEAD AMERICAN (Inspector Tay Novels, Book 3) is out now!!

Jake Needham Online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads