Shanghai Scams, The Man Trap – Part 3/3

January 28, 2011

Serpentza talks about how someone giving you shopping tips of where to shop gets kickbacks, which means whatever price you pay is probably double or triple what you should be paying.

However, what Serpentza doesn’t tell you is it is okay to haggle over the price except maybe in a Shanghai Wal-Mart.  Yea, they have Wal-Mart’s in China.

Anyway, Serpentza says to shop by yourself unless you know someone local.  That is good advice.

Actually, I have this hand carved wood sculpture that I wanted.  The shop owner thought my wife, who is Chinese, was my guide and he told her if she could convince me to buy this carving, he’d give her a kickback.

Needless to say, she found out how low he was willing to go, that’s the price I paid for the sculpture, and she refunded me the kick back.

Meanwhile, Serpentza says the beggars all have an angle—don’t trust them.

He then says if you are a single man out walking and a woman approaches you, be suspicious.  He then goes into detail what he has learned from a friend.

The story Serpentza tells is similar to what happened to me in 1965 when I was twenty and in the US Marines stationed in Okinawa.

The Shanghai Scams Website says to watch out for “Practice English”: two (mostly good-looking) Chinese girls approach you and ask you if you want to join them for a drink so they can practice their English. After you go to the washroom or make a phone call the girls disappear and the bill arrives for an astronomical price. If you refuse to pay, the owner would call some locals who tell you that you had better pay, otherwise…   Advice:  tell them to call police as you obviously are not drunk and never consumed that many whiskies. Call their bluff.

Of a “Lady Spa / massage”, usually a tout or a female approaches you to offer you “special services”.

That’s illegal in China and therefore you should not even think about it.

Return to Shanghai Scams Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Crime and the Law – Thirty Years in China

November 17, 2010

A discussion at the China Law Blog launched my investigation of crime and corruption in China. This post is one of several on this topic as a response to a few stereotypical comments at the China Law Blog discussion such as:

amp 5 said, “I’ve also asked my Chinese friends about this and the answer I usually get is along the lines of ‘The CCP is our version of the mafia’.”

Sun Kim said, “Ragtag groups that undoubtedly operate with the unspoken approval of the provincial government and/or the CCP as they ultimately help support the economy, albeit in shady terms.”

Rui Ramosu said, “The difference being, as someone above quite cogently noted, is that the government is ultimately able to control the organized crime, but turns a blind eye to it as long as it stays under control.”

James G said, “And China hasn’t really done a good job of eliminating organized crime. They have done a superb job or hiding it from foreigners, though.”

In fact, these comments are all wrong and are perfect examples of ignorant people parroting the Sinophobia and fear of Communism that exists in America and other Western nations.

Soon after 1949 until 1982, China was drug free and had to deal with few of the crimes that have plagued America and other nations for centuries.

It wasn’t until China opened its doors to world trade in the early 1980s that organized crime and corruption returned to China on a large scale.

Thirty years later, China’s growing legal system and police now deal with prostitution, gambling, drugs and all the rest just as the US and other nations in the free world have done for centuries.

In the last decade since my first trip to China, I’ve discovered that greedy individuals and groups in the smaller cities and remote provinces conduct most of the serious crime in China.

Since the Communist Party has more than 70 million members, it makes sense that some will be involved in illegal activities and thousands have already been convicted and dealt with.

China’s infant legal system was first launched in the early 1980s in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou (Canton) and other major cities. From that start, the legal system has slowly spread to the remote areas of China.

One step toward developing a modern police and legal system happened in 1984 when China became a member of Interpol, and Mr. Zhu En Tao, a member of the Communist Party of China, was appointed Deputy Director of the China Centre, Interpol.

Here are a few examples that show what China is doing to combat crime and corruption in China and internationally.

China has executed 72 people over the past week for drug trafficking offences…. Source: Independent.co.uk, June 2000

In 1994, New York resident Nguyen Hao Duc allegedly planned in cold blood, then carried out the murder of two innocent young men as part of a narcotics conspiracy. He then fled, settling eventually in the Pearl Delta area of Guangdong Province and supported by associates in the United States who sent him monthly living expenses.…

Based on information provided by the FBI to the Chinese officials, Nguyen was located…. In short order, officers of Guangdong’s Public Security Bureau arrested him in the town of Jiangmen, predicated on a Foreign Police Cooperation request made by the FBI Legal Attaché stationed in Beijing.

Then, on July 20, 2003, officers of the Ministry of Public Security transferred custody of Nguyen to two FBI Agents and a New York Police Detective, and Nguyen returned this month to the United States to face trial. Source: FBI.gov, July 2003

China has been active in seeking international cooperation in the fight against corruption. Since 1998, Chinese prosecutors have captured a total of about 70 criminal corruption suspects from abroad through legal assistance channels with foreign countries… Chinese police have also seized more than 230 Chinese criminal suspects from more than 30 countries and regions during the 1993 to January 2005 period with the help of Interpol, the international police body. Source: Asia Times, Oct. 29, 2005

China’s anti-drug efforts in the past year resulted in the cracking of several key transnational drug trafficking cases and the planting of opium replacement crops in the “Golden Triangle” areas, China’s police said.  Source: People’s Daily, November 22, 2006

Almost 800 illegal gambling dens in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand were raided in one of Interpol’s biggest co-ordinated crackdowns. Cars, bank cards, computers and mobile phones were also confiscated. The dens handled more than $150m in bets, Interpol said. Source: Guardian.co.uk, July 2010

Between 2001 and 2005, Chinese police opened more than 28,000 trafficking cases, the Chinese government arrested more than 25,000 suspected traffickers, and rescued more than 35,000 victims. During 2006, China police investigated 3,371 trafficking cases; provincial governments rescued 371 victims and arrested 415 traffickers. China also cooperated with Vietnamese, Thai and Burmese authorities to rescue victims. Source: Human Trafficking.org

Discover more about Growing China’s Legal System

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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The Human Rights of Individualism

September 3, 2010

The Guardian.co.uk reported that China moves to reduce number of crimes punishable by death.  Considering that in 1980, China had no legal system much has been accomplished and more is yet to come.

I agree that some of the crimes that warrant the death penalty in China are unfair for the crime committed, but China is not a Western country and the history of China prior to Communism shows that convicted criminals were often executed for a long list of nonviolent crimes.

Call me an Old Testament man. I believe if someone is convicted with overwhelming evidence of a brutal crime, he or she should face punishment equal to or worse than the crime they committed.

A trial for first-degree murder should end in a swift execution.

Face it, there are convicted criminals who cannot be allowed out of prison. Instead of locking them up for decades at a high cost to honest hardworking taxpayers, the criminals should be executed.

The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “Recognition of inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.”  Source: Human Rights Here and Now

I disagree with the term “all members” of the human family. Some criminals forfeit that right due to the nature of his or her crimes.

In forty-six American states and the District of Columbia, convicted criminal offenders are denied the right to vote while serving a sentence in prison. Thirty-nine states also disenfranchise felons on parole and twenty-nine disenfranchise those on probation.

In fourteen states, even ex-offenders who have served their sentences remain barred for life from voting. Source: The Sentencing Project

However, there is pressure on the United States to go easier on ex-offenders and allow them to have the right to vote again.

In fact, almost every country is changing due to pressure from human rights groups.  I don’t oppose what the human rights groups are doing yet slavery didn’t end during the American Civil War. Why isn’t more being done to end slavery?

Today, more than 27 million men, women and children endure brutal working conditions for no money and under the constant threat of beatings, torture and rape. Source: iAbolish.org

All a slaver has to do is make sure he or she lives in a country that, at worst, will lock him or her up for life and provide free shelter, free food and free medical—something that China doesn’t do for these types of crimes.

Do you believe pampering hard-core criminals is going to change them? Maybe theWest should consider what “human rights” looks like in a collective culture as opposed to individualism.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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The Real Police State (4/4)

August 11, 2010

America locks up more than twice the people that China does, and it isn’t cheap to keep someone in a US prison.  The cost is as high as $50,000 a year x 2.4 million.  You do the math.

This American mess has come about over the last 40 years because of an unholy alliance of big-business-hating liberals and tough-on-crime conservatives.

Common sense says to execute the most dangerous criminals. 

If the US eliminated the 200,000 over 50 serving life sentences, that would reduce the Federal deficit by as much as 10 billion annually or 100 billion in a decade. In fact, the US should execute everyone who is serving a life sentence without a chance for parole.

I find it interesting that America wages wars in countries like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan where millions have been killed and sometimes women and children die as collateral damage but balks at executing dangerous criminals in the US who are locked up for life without a chance for parole.

The solution could be to send these criminals to China and let the Chinese do the job for America.

See An Update about China’s Criminal Justice System or return to The Real Police State – Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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The Real Police State (2/4)

August 10, 2010

No one knows for sure how many criminals are executed in China.  Amnesty International says the numbers are in the thousands.

I find it interesting that no one in the West has studied China to see if there is a link between the way China treats convicted criminals and a culture that has survived for several thousand years. I’m sure there are Americans who might not want to know the results.

The United States may not execute as many as China does, but the US locks up more people than any country—more than twice that of China, a country with almost five times the population.

In fact, The Economist published an interesting piece about America called Rough Justice.

The Economist says, “Conservatives and liberals will always feud about the right level of punishment.…  As a result, American prisons are now packed not only with thugs and rapists but also with petty thieves, minor drug dealers and criminals, who, though scary when they were young and strong, are now too grey and arthritic to pose a threat. Some 200,000 inmates are over 50—roughly as many as there were prisoners of all ages in 1970.”

See Officer in Action or return to The Real Police State – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Executing the Sour Stink of Corruption

July 28, 2010

The BBC reports that Bo Xilai, the man in charge of Chongqing, China, is prosecuting corrupt government officials in his province. Recently, a top justice official in the city was executed for corruption and many in his family went to jail.

In 2012 – Changing the Guard, I wrote about Bo Xilai and his crusade against crime and corruption, which has made him popular with the people.

To understand why Bo Xilai is popular, focus on the real reason workers started the Tiananmen Square protests. The workers who started the protest were concerned about crime and corruption.

The students, who have been given credit for a democracy movement, did not start the protest—they hijacked it.

The BBC said, “This (crime and corruption) worries China’s leaders, who are seriously concerned that public anger at levels of corruption is undermining support for the Communist Party.” 

Considering the size of China, its population and the complexity of its multi-ethnic culture, this is a large challenge for China’s leaders.

Corruption also brought down the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911).  In fact, the major cause of the collapse of most of China’s Dynasties is linked to corruption and moral decay.

Also, when the Ming Dynasty (1368-1643) collapsed, the last emperor hung himself because he had not done his job properly.

Why can’t we send the Bernie Madoffs of America to China?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Eating Smoke — a question and answer with author, Chris Thrall (Viewed as Single Page)

January 28, 2010

Guest-Post by Tom Carter
Interview with Chris Thrall, author of Eating Smoke

Tom Carter, author of “CHINA: Portrait of a People”, catches up with Chris Thrall to discuss his new book “Eating Smoke, a memoir about Thrall’s descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong’s triad heartland.

“In the fall of 2009,” says Tom Carter, “whilst traveling in India to create my next photography book, I was contacted via email by a British writer who had read Down and out in Hong Kong, one of my online travel articles, which described this poor, dusty backpacker’s real-time impressions of Asia’s wealthiest city.”

Chris Thrall said he connected with my article’s conclusion that, in spite of my western heritage, and due to my personal circumstances, I ultimately had more in common with the destitute third-world inhabitants of the Chungking Mansions, the infamous immigrant ghetto of Kowloon, than I did with the rich white bankers et al who comprise the other half of Hong Kong’s multinational population.

Chris went on to explain that he was writing a book about his own experiences living in Hong Kong, which was dramatically different from mine or any other expatriate I ever knew, and that he once worked for the 14K, the world’s largest Chinese crime family.

Attached to his email was the first chapter of his memoir, a gripping opening salvo that finds the narrator hiding from pursuing henchmen on a roof top—alongside two corpses, a disemboweled mother and child.

As a voracious reader, I know a bestseller when I see it. I immediately forwarded Chris’s manuscript to my publisher in Hong Kong, Pete Spurrier, who runs the iconic Blacksmith Books, which specializes in Asian-themed literature.

Pete likewise was knocked off his feet by Chris’s incredible story; the next I heard, Chris was a fellow Blacksmith label mate with a book deal.

Chris Thrall was born in the UK. At eighteen, he joined the Royal Marine Commandos. Following active service in the Northern Ireland Conflict and training in Arctic warfare and survival, he earned his parachutist’s ‘wings’ and went on to serve as part of a high-security detachment onboard an aircraft carrier. In 1995, Chris moved to Hong Kong to oversee the Asia-Pacific expansion of a successful network-marketing operation he’d built, part-time, while serving in the Forces. Less than a year later, he was homeless, hooked on crystal methamphetamine and working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest triad crime family, as a doorman in Wanchai’s infamous red-light district.

Eating Smoke, a humorous yet deeply moving first book, is his account of what happened.

On October 16, 2011, nearly two years since Chris Thrall originally contacted me, his long-awaited book, “Eating Smoke”, will be released in America and Amazon.com.

Advanced sales have already brought the title to the top of the Hong Kong bestseller list (patting my own back for my prediction) while Eating Smoke has achieved a massive cult following on Facebook. Hailed as a “Sin – Shantaram” in a review by the South China Morning Post, and being compared by fans to Alex Garland’s The Beach for its drug-adelic theme, we can now confidently predict that Eating Smoke will, too, be optioned for film rights and follow those popular books to Hollywood.

Despite his past connections with Chinese triads, and in spite of his newfound celebrity as a bestselling author, Thrall remains one of the nicest and humblest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing…even though I have yet to actually meet the man in person. So it wasn’t too hard to twist his arm into putting my Q&A at the top of his to-do list of media interview requests (ah, the fame!).

TOM CARTER: My first and most pressing question, Chris, is if you are at all worried that the 14K will be hitting you up for a percentage of your book royalties once word of Eating Smoke’s success trickles up the Wan Chai gangland hierarchy?

CHRIS THRALL: Ha ha! The news from Hong Kong is that “serious players” are reading my book as we speak. But I’m not worried as it’s not a tell-all on Hong Kong organized crime. It’s more the story of a former Royal Marine Commando who thought he knew a bit about life, who then moves to Asia to run what was a successful business but spirals down into psychosis from drug addiction.

In that respect, Eating Smoke is unique. I’m not aware of any other book that gives the reader the opportunity to experience what it’s actually like to descend into mental illness through the eyes of someone as they do. I just happened to work for the 14K as a nightclub doorman – moreover, their “East-West go-between” – when it happened.

CARTER: Eating Smoke is about your decent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong’s triad heartland, but it’s also about the series of unfortunate, albeit hilarious, events that prevented you from ever finding your financial footing in Hong Kong, ironically Asia’s wealthiest city; a “testament to the stark reality and ephemeral nature of the relationship between people, drugs and profit,” as you wrote in the book.

Do you have anything to say to all those coked-out rich white bankers that Hong Kong is notorious for?

THRALL: No! I have nothing to say to anyone – coked-out rich white bankers included. If people truly enjoy what they do, they should carry on doing it.

Personally, I didn’t want to see my youth slipping away in a suit as I chased dollar signs at the expense of more fulfilling experiences. So having overcome addiction, I made an inventory of what I wanted to get out of life. Then I set out across six continents through seventy-five countries to get it. Writing a book was the last thing on my bucket list.

CARTER: China is adamantly anti-drugs, and the court system does not hesitate to execute drug traffickers, even foreigners.

In fact, China even blames foreigners for being responsible for a majority of its drug trade, a grudge no doubt held over from the Opium Wars. Even though there are arguments to be made against the death penalty, the fact remains that, due to their zero-tolerance policy, China has one of the world’s lowest crime rates, a statistic that, all things considered, I’m sure America and the UK envy.

As a former drug user, what’s your take on criminalization of drugs, and do you think the west should follow China’s example?

THRALL: I don’t have a take on it. I’m not a spokesperson on substance use or the law surrounding it. I just told my own story.

However, research would likely show that mankind has always taken drugs in various forms and continues to do so (alcohol and cigarettes often cited as the most damaging), which might suggest that education on their usage and dangers is the way forward, in addition to harm-prevention strategies.

As for crime, a sociologist once said that a zero crime rate would make society a frightening place to be. I think Orwell’s 1984 was meant to imply this. I take no stance on drugs per se or cast judgment on people who choose to buy, sell, or use them.

It was addiction that I battled and that’s a separate issue. It’s a psychological condition that could relate to gambling, sex or food. It makes you wonder how prohibition could ever fix this.

CARTER: One of the main characters in “Eating Smoke” is a Filipina prostitute named Apple who, after being your friend, sells you out to the triads. Filipinos are the second largest ethnic group in Hong Kong, however their career paths seem to be limited as nannies for wealthy families, cover bands, or bar girls.

Why is that, and do you think their situation will ever improve?

THRALL: I think it’s because the Philippines’ economy is relatively poor when compared to Hong Kong’s. Even with the pittance they receive in wages, these women are able to send a lot of hard-earned dollars home to their families, while getting a travel experience they likely otherwise ill afford.

As to whether their situation will improve, Filipinos are generally humble, in my experience. They don’t complain and seem to appreciate the chance to earn money abroad.

Of course, wherever there is inequality, they’ll be incidents of exploitation, which isn’t nice. But if their union – if there is such a thing – pushed for higher pay then perhaps the demand for their services would drop off as there are Hong Kong locals who could fill these jobs.

CARTER: Another reoccurring character in Eating Smoke is an expatriate named Cameron who insists on trying crystal meth despite your warnings of its highly addictive nature. Cameron shows up later in the book exclaiming how much he loves the drug even though it’s obvious that he, too, is now addicted. To quote a passage in your book, “Unable to stop and not wanting to anyway.”

What about methamphetamine makes it so popular even though everyone knows that it can, nay, will destroy you?

THRALL: I can only speak from my own experience. Some people try meth and say, “Ah. It’s OK. But nothing special.” Then get on with their life. For others it seems to be the key in lock, the answer to all of life’s insecurities and problems. Perhaps people in the former category have had more stable upbringings and hence less insecurity and the resultant need to feel “right” for a change.

A drug that makes you feel cool, calm and supremely confident, in addition to giving you a massive surge of creative energy – allowing you to discover abilities you were told you were a failure at in school – is always going to be in demand.

The problem is, like Superman with his Kryptonite, you begin to crave that feeling more and more to the point where you no longer feel normal without it. That’s called addiction. Either you beat it or it destroys you.

CARTER: A really interesting observation I felt you made in Eating Smoke was of those expatriates who come to places like China looking to assert their dominance over the culture, and those expats who “go native” and completely immerse themselves in the language and customs, sometimes to the point of arrogance towards other foreigners.

Why do westerners behave like this in other countries, and why, in your opinion, do Asian immigrants in America or the UK have seemingly the exact opposite attitude?

THRALL: That’s a good question but probably a long-winded answer. It’s important to remember that not all westerners misbehave when abroad and not all Asian immigrants immerse themselves in or accept western culture and etiquette.

When you consider the West’s history and of colonialism and capitalism – arguably practices that require the population of one country to believe they are racially superior to another’s – it’s not hard to appreciate why some westerners behave this way.

Add to that a “functionalist” education system, a class system, a one-sided record of history…I could go on, couldn’t I?

CARTER: Comparisons are being made between “Eating Smoke” and Gregory David Roberts’ “Shantaram” (about a drug-addicted escaped convict who joins a crime family in Mumbai, India) and Alex Garland’s “The Beach” (young backpackers living on an isolated island in Thailand who goes mad from solitude and drugs).

Have you read either of these, and how does Eating Smoke stand apart in this genre?

THRALL: “Eating Smoke” is 100% true life – whereas “Shantaram” and “The Beach” are fiction, though loosely based on their authors’ travel experiences, no doubt.

Although it’s on my shelf, I haven’t read “Shantaram”, but “The Beach” is one of my all-time favorites.

The reason “Eating Smoke” stands apart in this genre is that it works – or so the reviewers say – on so many levels and therefore appeals to readers of all ages, sex and genre.

I’m told my story is unique and an eye-opener and that my writing style – honesty, humor, originality, and pacing – makes the book impossible to put down. Even though it is over 500 pages as a traditional paperback, I often receive Facebook messages and emails from people who have read it in two days.

CARTER: I’d like to go on record as saying that I think “Eating Smoke” has “Hollywood” written all over it, and I expect your story to be optioned for film rights. Johnny Depp is slated to play the lead role in “Shantaram”, and Leo DiCaprio starred in “The Beach”.

Do you have any preference for actors to play yourself in “Eating Smoke”: The Motion Picture, like Shia LaBeouf or Justin Bieber (just joking!)? Who would you want to direct?

THRALL: *laughing* So long as the guy was English, a good actor, and resembled my character at the time, I wouldn’t mind. I don’t have a preference – I’m not that clued up on 25-year old English actors, to be honest!

As for a director, Danny Boyle would be my choice. I loved “The Beach”, “Trainspotting”, “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours”. It would require someone with his perception to be able replicate the psychosis that I experienced, accurately.

CARTER: Let’s talk about the publishing of Eating Smoke, because I’m sure there are dozens of expats across Asia reading this who feel that they, too, have exciting stories which deserve a place on bookshelves, yet are unsure of how to go about getting published.

So once Blacksmith Books expressed an interest in your proposal what kind of writing process did you embark on to complete the book?

THRALL: After six months of writing, when Blacksmith Books contacted me, I had pretty much the first draft written – 230,000 words at the time. The problem was I’d never studied English above high school level, so I spent a year referring to books, websites and online forums, teaching myself proper punctuation (not what we were taught at school!), grammar, and the art of self-editing.

CARTER: What kind of final editing was done to Eating Smoke? Were there any major changes to it and, overall, was it a hostile or pleasant experience? I ask because editors and authors don’t usually see eye-to-eye.

THRALL: According to Blacksmith’s editor, the manuscript was structurally sound. I’d pretty much worked out for myself what did and did not need to be in there.

Any anecdote not taking the story forward or adding to the understanding of a character or situation, I took out.

As far as the end result is concerned, it was great to see the manuscript polished, with some incorrectly used words amended, some over-ripe humor taken out, and some excess sentences deleted. That’s not to say it wasn’t a stressful experience at the time.

Editors are good at spotting mistakes and cutting out excess lines. But that can leave un-poetic passages that don’t flow well on the page. My editor and publisher were completely accommodating, allowing me to rewrite any amendments myself in my own writing style – or understanding when I insisted that certain lines were left in the book, for continuity, or sentimental reasons because the story is true-life.

Chris Thrall

CARTER: The literary landscape is changing, some say deteriorating.

Where once New York publishers actually sought out quality literature that would last through the ages (John Steinbeck, Pearl Buck), today they only seem interested in boardroom-created-blockbusters like “Twilight” or throwaway celebrity memoires.

To add insult to injury, newspapers like the “New York Times” are notoriously anti-POD (Print on Demand) and will only review Big 6-published books despite the recent sales surge of self-published titles.

What’s your advice, then, for aspiring authors who lack literary connections but feel that their book is too good for CreateSpace?

THRALL: If you truly believe you have a story that will be of interest to many people, think carefully about sending your manuscript to a busy executive in a publishing house that probably has fifty other manuscripts land on their desk everyday and no time to read them.

Instead, consider hiring (or find) an agent that has some influence with the big players or simply send your first chapter to an author in a similar genre. Authors tend to be very kind and approachable people – as I found out, Tom! – and having been through the process themselves, they know what a publisher is looking for. If they like what they read then there’s a good chance they’ll recommend you.

Writers want other writers to have success. In addition, you’ll get pointers if your writing is lacking in any area. I’m currently writing a free e-book that will be available to download soon from http://www.christhrall.com to guide people through the process of writing a memoir and getting it published.

CARTER: What’s next for Chris Thrall? Tales from your time with the Corps of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines? Or perhaps some fiction?

THRALL: Not sure. You’ll have to ask the readers of Eating Smoke that question!

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Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, a 600-page book of photography from the 33 provinces of China, which may be found on Amazon.com.

For more guest posts by Tom Carter, discover Daughter of Xanadu, Teaching English in the Middle Kingdom, China’s Real Karate Kids, or On Crime in China.

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Note: This “Guest Post” by Tom Carter originally appeared as a five-part series starting October 16, 2011 in Eating Smoke – a question and answer with author Chris Thrall – Part 1