Blogathon, Day 152: Krung Thep

March 1st, 2011

It’s nice to be back in Bangkok, at least in my imagination.

The new Poke thriller, THE GROWING YOUNGER MAN, is nearing the 10,000-word point, and it reads very well, although readers are going to have to wait a bit to see where any single one of the story threads is going, much less how it connects to the others.

But they shouldn’t have to wait, I hope, as long as they did in BREATHING WATER,  I was amazed at the fact that people allowed me to get away with suspending the story thread about the runaway beggar girl and her newly acquired baby for as long as I did.  It wasn’t until well into the first quarter of the book that there was even a hint (I think) of how it might connect to Poke and the other story elements.

So far, we have:

A quick, virtuoso murder in a brand-new, high-rise condominium, in a living room that is literally above the evening’s low-hanging rain clouds.  The murder is seen mainly on a panel of security video screens being watched by three dead people.

A 12-year-old Vietnamese kid whom we met in THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, Andrew Nguyen, on a school bus, carefully avoiding contact with Miaow (part of a mutual pact of not attracting attention) as he realizes he’s lost his second $400 iPhone in a month and he is dead when he gets home.  Breaks all the rules and goes to sit next to Miaow.

Poke, in the Bangkok Tofu Palace, one of the city’s new and unwelcome (to Poke, anyway) health food restaurants, meeting with The Growing Younger Man, who’s called Poke there to discuss the disappearance of the Burmese prostitute — in a handcuff house, where the girls are prisoners — with whom The Growing Younger Man has fallen in love.  Poke’s Rule Number One for survival in Bangkok is never to become involved in an expat’s romantic affairs, and Rule Number Two is never, ever to become involved in an expat’s romantic affairs when they involve a pro.  But he listens, and for a couple of reasons, takes it seriously enough to promise he’ll discuss it with Rose.

Andrew and Miaow negotiating the alleys of Little India to find the shops that sell stolen cell phones, looking for the model Andrew lost.  They buy it, and in the back of a cab on the way home, Andrew is playing with it and finds a series of photos of a thickset, no-nonsense middle-aged Thai man on the streets.  It is immediately apparent to both of them that the subject of the pictures has no idea he is being photographed.  Andrew says, “He looks kind of familiar.  I think I’ve seen him before.”

Arthit, in a room in the police station, with a television and a DVD.  Beside him is a woman in her mid-thirties who is a deaf-mute.  She’s a professor in a first-rate school for the hearing impaired, and the police have called her in several times to help with silent video evidence.  They watch the murder several times and from two angles before she can say with certainty what it is the killer said to the victim before shooting him several times in the head.  It was, “Three women.  Five Children.”  Throughout the scene, we’ve been aware that Arthit and the woman are interested in each other.  When she’s finished, she invites him out for a cup of coffee.

The next three scenes will take these threads to a point at which some of them begin to converge, and will also begin another one, one that will affect and color everything in the book.

It all feels good to me so far; it feels like I’ve got the ground underneath me.  I probably won’t get lost and panic for another 15,000-20,000 words.

It feels good to be back in this world.

10 Responses to “Blogathon, Day 152: Krung Thep”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Thanks for letting us take a peek into what you’re working on. Now, please hurry up so we can read this for real. When will that be anyway?

    Love the photo up top. In fact I want to be there right about now, sipping something fruity. Any idea where that is?

  2. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Sooz — That’s the traditional Thai house in Bangkok that was long the home of the writer, scholar, and Thai prime minister Kukrit Pramoj, one of the better people to hold that job in the past 20-30 years. A distant member of the Royal family, he was a staunch Royalist, but in an age when virtually all Thais were Royalists.

    THE GROWING YOUNGER MAN won’t come out until 2012 because of the shift from one publisher to another. Otherwise, it would have been due in August of this year.

  3. Philip Coggan Says:

    You’re getting to be the Dickens of Bangkok, Tim. Young Andrew gets TWO $400 iPhones a month? Why isn’t he dead after the first one?

  4. EverettK Says:

    Welcome back to ImagiBangkok, Tim! Now I’m getting itchy to start Breathing Water…. have to pace myself or I’ll start getting the withdrawal shakes! Your summary of the TGYM is very enticing, it makes my LitStomach ™ growl.

  5. Bonnie Says:

    I am so happy you are working on another Poke. I actually re-read all 4 again this weekend, making that a second re-read (unprecedented) in less than a year–in fact, I think I got the free version of Nail in August during the pre-Queen promotion. I am hoping you will let us have another look at Da and Boo, too. Is it Prettyman you wish you could have had back from the dead?

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Oh lovely, picture and preview. This is why I don’t devour your books, but nibble at them delicately. There is another Junior soon, isn’t there?

  7. Tom Logan Says:

    I am happy now. Thanks for the preview.

  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Philip — The first one was stolen, but he lost the second, and his father is a Vietnamese badass. This is a real crisis, although when I went back into the scene this afternoon to polish it, it went into a completely new direction that I love but have no idea how to work into a book that already probably has too many plot elements.

    Thanks, Everett, ImagiBangkok it is, and it’s really relaxing to be back. As I just said to Philip above one scene has changed drastically and another is tending that way, so this opening sequence may be nostalgia in a fee days.

    Hi, Bonnie: TWO REREADS? Does that mean you’ve read them each three times, or was it one read and a reread? I’m not sure even I could read them three times. I hadn’t thought about Da and Boo in the soon-to-be-abandoned Master Plan for the book, but that probably actually means they have a better chance of wandering into the field of action.

    Yaaayyy, Lil. There is another Junior, but much to my surprise there is also suddenly publisher interest in it. We’ll know something in a week or so. I’ll send it to you in e-book form one way or the other.

    Thanks, Tom, and if it makes you happy, it makes me happy, too. Just don’t expect any of this (except the murder) to be in the book, although it all might be.

  9. Larissa Says:

    I”m glad to hear you’re back in your old stomping grounds again! (c: I’m excited to see where it all goes. You’re going to try to kill us with the suspense…sort of makes sense given your genre.


  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Riss — I’m excited to see where it goes, too. Half of what I described has already changed substantially, and I’m loving writing the beginning of a new relationship for Arthit. It’s a good thing I got the murder into the first chapter, because otherwise this would be a pretty leisurely start.

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