A vampire is loose in Thailand; at least in novels written by Jim Newport. After the usual announcements, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg introduced Jim at the Sunday September 4 Pattaya City Expats Club meeting in the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant.
Jim is a man of many talents; production/art designer for movies and TV shows, musician, and author. For most of his career, he was in the set designer business having worked on TV series and movies such as Lost, Fantasy Island, China Beach, Brokedown Palace, The Stepfather, The Piano Lesson, and Nice Dreams to name a few.
Jim and his lovely wife show off Jim’s new book, his most recent book Vampire of Siam -The Siamese Connection.
One of the more recent films he has worked on was made here in Thailand – Bangkok Dangerous. He currently resides in Phuket where he made a recent blues CD, Wanted Man using his musical stage name, Jimmy Fame. A graduate of Pratt Institute, he initially applied his graphic skills to album cover design and was a free-lance rock ‘n’ roll photographer in the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. In 1982 he joined the legendary British rock group the Animals for their 20 year reunion world tour – designing their promotional material and sets.
Jim gave a fascinating talk primarily about the four books he has written about a vampire living in Bangkok. An editor with Asia Books took an interest in his writing and told him that if he wrote something that takes place in Thailand, they would likely publish it and they did. It was his first novel of what became a four book series about an adventurer named Ramonne, who has an encounter with a Chinese vampire that has been roaming Angkor Wat for centuries and becomes a vampire himself.
Jim described his main character, noting that he discarded many of the “rules” that people read in novels about vampires dealing with garlic, crosses, no mirror image, etc. However, he does have Ramonne sleeping in a coffin, not because he has to, but because “likes it.”
As a new service, Barry Kenyon (seated on right), chief of Foreign Liaison at Chonburi Immigration, which is located at Soi 5 off Jomtien Beach Road, will be available at PCEC meetings on the first Sunday of each month to answer members queries about immigration and visa. Adrian caught up with Barry for a chat about ‘things Pattaya’.
He also brings in another character that befriends Ramonne, a wealthy American expat who provides the money while Ramonne provides the power. Jim mentioned that this American character is based on a real person who actually exists and is flattered to be in Jim’s book.
When he wrote the first novel in the series, The Vampire of Siam, he did not envision a series; just the one book. Consequently, in the first book, Ramonne is killed. However, Jim said he felt he could do so much more with the characters, so he resurrected Ramonne in the second book.
Jim briefly described the events that take place in the next three books of the series, noting that he took about 4 years between the 3rd and the latest book in the series. Jim said the interim time was spent writing his books Chasing Jimi and Tinsel Town. The former being about Jimi Hendrix, whom Jim learned a lot about when touring with the Animals as they spoke highly of him and related many stories. The latter dealt with the Hollywood scene; having worked in the film industry, Jim was quite familiar with it.
Jim also had an interesting story about how he came to use the name Jimmy Fame for his musical endeavors. He said that when he was working on the production of Cheech and Chong’s movie, Nice Dreams, they asked him to portray a character in the movie. Jim said that since he was already in the credits for production design, to conform to union rules, he had to have a different name; so they gave him the name Jimmy Fame.
Al Serrato and Pat Koester, both of whom were appointed as US Embassy wardens for the Pattaya area this year, report on the annual warden’s conference. A major message from the conference is that all foreigners living abroad should register with their embassy, so they or their designated representative can be contacted in case of emergency. Pat also acknowledged two long-time wardens in the audience, Gary Hacker and Jim Phillips.
After Jim answered many questions from the audience, fellow member Drew Noyes with PAPPA Co., Ltd., gave a short overview of the successful Thai Law seminar that was recently provided in cooperation with the Chonburi Provincial Court. He said that edited video of the event would soon be forthcoming and that plans are well underway to hold two more seminars; one on Thai civil law and the other on Thai property law.
Richard Silverberg then presented a new website find that he felt would be of interest to everyone. The website is www.rome2rio .com. If you type in two different locations, it will show you the routing and if by air, it will show many of the airlines operating the route – click on the airline and you can get the flight schedules. Likewise, you can get train information and if a road trip, maps marked with the best route. For example you can get the road map route marked for going from Pattaya to Korat.
Richard then updated everyone on upcoming events and called on member Roy Albiston to conduct the always informative and sometimes humorous Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Thailand, recommendations for restaurants and movies are made, an and perhaps a joke or two are told.