Everyone has a story to tell

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Being an author is in all of us as we each have a story to tell.  This was the message from book author Tom Crowley at the Sunday July 8 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club.

Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg called on fellow member Vincent Ward to introduce Tom who is a Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. Foreign Service officer. He has lived and worked in Asia for many years and published two books. Tom was a decorated infantry officer who served during the Vietnam War.  He subsequently became a U.S. Foreign Service officer working as an intelligence analyst in Asia; later working for General Electric in Asia.

Member Vincent Ward introduces Tom Crowley as the guest speaker at the PCEC Sunday meeting. Tom is the author of a “Vipers Tail” and “Bangkok Pool Blues”.Member Vincent Ward introduces Tom Crowley as the guest speaker at the PCEC Sunday meeting. Tom is the author of a “Vipers Tail” and “Bangkok Pool Blues”.

Tom said that he developed his love for Asia after being wounded in Vietnam and med-evacuated to Japan; a far cry from war torn Vietnam. After completing his military service, he returned to the USA with a desire to return to Asia, which he did after joining the US Foreign Service. He later joined the business world in Asia with GE and left them in 1998 because he did not want to transfer to Europe.  After leaving GE, he volunteered his services to Bangkok’s Mercy Center, an NGO that helps street children, orphans, and both children and adults who are HIV positive.  That was 14 years ago and he is still working with the center.

Tom said that instead of taking photos, he likes to write a few pages describing his experiences and trips, which he files away on his computer.  He showed some of his writings to a Thai author of his acquaintance, who encouraged him to convert his writings into a book. This was the beginning of “Bangkok Pool Blues” – a non-fiction work that included the gambling scene and some of the personalities of those involved.  He said when he submitted his first draft to the publisher, it was returned with the first three chapters ripped out and the admonition to include something about himself as the reader wants to know something about the author; this was one of his first lessons about writing.

Member Roy Albiston conducts the Open Forum portion of the PCEC meeting where members and guests exchange information about expat living in Pattaya.  Member Roy Albiston conducts the Open Forum portion of the PCEC meeting where members and guests exchange information about expat living in Pattaya.

Member Roy Albiston conducts the Open Forum portion of the PCEC meeting where members and guests exchange information about expat living in Pattaya.

It was his reading of the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series that got him interested in writing fiction; an area that the writer can be more versatile and have more possibilities to explore.  In the “Vipers Tail,” he said he was able to draw on his own experiences to write the story. It is about an ex-US Army Ranger wounded in combat in Iraq who is disillusioned with war and violence and seeks peace in Thailand, his mother’s homeland. The story involves Tek Chance, the main character, being called on to discover why U.S. medical researchers are dying mysterious deaths in Thailand.  He ultimately finds the deaths are linked to a conspiracy dating back to the Second World War.

Tom went on to explain how an aspiring author needs to “push” themselves and their writings.  This he learned from other writers. He joined the Mystery Writers of America, which holds periodic conferences where he had invaluable opportunities to meet other writers and talk about his writing, but most importantly he was able to get advice from well known authors on how to get his books published. Another thing he learned is that getting the book published is only the start as you also have to work hard at marketing the book and yourself.

He also explained that it is difficult to get publishers in the USA and UK interested in a book based on events in Thailand. They prefer books based in their country because they are more marketable. Consequently, his next book will take Tek Chance to America where most of the story will take place.

Author Tom Crowley talks about his two published books, how he got started writing them, and offered some advice about getting your writings published.Author Tom Crowley talks about his two published books, how he got started writing them, and offered some advice about getting your writings published.

Tom also delved on the need for research. While you can draw to some extent on your own experiences, he said that at some point you have to venture into other areas. The readers want to believe what you are writing is real; that it is authentic.  You can’t do that without doing research to make sure your reader finds your story to be not only interesting, but also believable.  Tom concluded by telling everyone that they also have many life experiences on which they can base a book.  This is the beginning to being an author.  So his advice was to not be afraid to take a stab at writing if you are so inclined. In essence, he noted that although publishing a story can be daunting, it will never happen if you don’t start writing.

After Tom answered many questions from the audience, MC Richard called on Pat Koester to introduce herself and fellow officers that were elected at the Board of Governors meeting held after the July 1 Annual General Meeting.  Pat, who is the new chair, then introduced Stuart Saunders, vice-chair, David Garmaise, secretary, Judith Edmonds, treasurer, and Jerry Dean, sergeant at arms.

MC Richard then updated everyone on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the always interesting and lively Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Thailand; Pattaya in particular.

Read more about the club’s activities on their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.