RAW, SEXY AND DANGEROUS

I fell in love with Asia from the moment I got off a plane in Jakarta when I was 22 years old.

opium, Asia, drug, crime, thrillerThe wall of heat, the chaos, the ripe scents, the bedlam of it all.

It was raw, sexy and dangerous. I loved it.

Even after an aging freighter that I was traveling on sailed into a typhoon and was becalmed for a week somewhere in the South China Sea, I wasn’t put off.

In fact I only loved it more; the romance and corruption, the scented tropical nights in Vientiane and Chiang Mai, the dank and Colin Falconer, James Clavell, The Godfatherdangerous docks in Wanchai and Bangkok.

With a backpack full of James Clavell novels I saw most of Indochina in those next few years, had seen the opium caravans for myself, talked to drug squad detectives and experienced the luxurious highs and seedy low-down lows of Asia for myself.

opium, Asia, drug, crime, thriller

photograph: Jmhullot

I scribbled notes in Wanchai bar rooms; while walking along the muddy banks of the Mekong in Laos; in village huts somewhere in northern Burma, where people had never seen a white face before, certainly not one as ugly as mine.

opium, Asia, drug, crime, thriller

photograph: John Hill

But then some triad detectives in Hong Kong also showed me how the Chinese gangs and the Mafia exploited the Vietnam war and its aftermath to turn opium into an international heroin trade that realized unimaginable profits.

opium, Asia, drug, crime, thrillerThe times I’m writing about are gone; there is no lawless Walled City in Hong Kong anymore, the British have left Asia and so have the Corsicans. This is an Indochina that has passed into history, even though it is within the living memory of many of those I interviewed.

In case you’re wondering OPIUM was published internationally by Hodder Headline in 1997. It was never given much publicity in the UK and not published at all in the US. (My Big6 publisher wanted to concentrate on my traditional ‘historical’ fiction like Cleopatra and Aztec)

They told me to forget about Baptiste Crocé and his deal with devil; to leave behind Detective John Keelan and his epic love story of redemption and healing.

opium, Asia, drug, crime, thrillerBut I couldn’t leave them behind. I certainly couldn’t forget my favorite ever creation – Ruby Wen, the girl who couldn’t lie straight in a torpedo tube and has sex in glass elevators.

Was she based on someone I once knew? Possibly.

So late last year I went back to the book and I breathed them back to life. They are real to me as any fictional characters ever can be (who were never that fictional to begin with.)

Colin Falconer, James Clavell, The GodfatherIn the intervening years, the wonderful John Chetwynd-Chatwin, a rogue and a gentleman who first gave me entré into the world of the Royal Hong Kong Police, has sadly died, well before his time.

But happily the rest are still around, the diaspora of the RHKP, including the legendary TC.

 OPIUM is free the next few days on Kindle.

It’s the first part of the story and I want you to read it and if you like it then perhaps you’ll be persuaded to follow Baptiste and John and Ruby on their splendid, romantic and horrifying journey.

It may not be Shogun but I just can’t stand by and let OPIUM die, not a book I love as much as this one. So I hope you’ll read it with some compassion for the riff raff and heroes within.

Opium, James Clavell, The Godfather

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LAST MONTH SUBSCRIBERS GOT A FREE COPY OF OPIUM – AND THERE’S MORE NEW OFFERS COMING UP VERY SOON.

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Holy Week, Easter, Spain

COLIN FALCONER

About colinfalconer

author of bestselling historical novels like Anastasia, When We Were Gods, Aztec and Harem. My books have been published in the UK, US and ANZ and translated into seventeen languages.
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5 Responses to RAW, SEXY AND DANGEROUS

  1. Brilliant, Colin.
    You write like you breathe… Thanks for the moments that pull me out of the world and bring me back into my writing space so easily. Back to it, but thanks for the interlude.
    Opium is next on the list… finishing mine before RWNZ!
    Regards, as always, from NZ.
    L

    • Thanks Lizzi. And I do hope you enjoy OPIUM, I love Asia and its recent history and that was my opus to Indochina, from the fifties to the nineties. Let me know what you think!

  2. There is always a pang that lives in me for every era that dies which was alive sometime during my life. Even the tiny taste of the one you refer to that I got on the streets of Vancouver while studying in the Bok Hok Pai, visiting the dark, strange smelling herb shops, meeting men who could kill with a finger and hearing their stories of their lives in Canton and then Hong Kong. There is a romance and energy within that culture’s history as well as a brutality I’d never felt in any other world in which ‘d ventured before. Glad you have not let OPIUM die. It can’t help but be a good book with that much of your awe and love in it.

    • Much of what I wrote about in OPIUM is gone now, so even though it starts 60 years ago it is to my mind very much an historical novel. I tasted some of it at the end of it when I was in Burma and Laos at the end of the seventies and my experiences in Hong Kong just before the take over. I must have been a taipan in my last life, I could easily live in Asia … and Vancouver of course is a very Chinese city, one of only a handful outside of China that are allowed their own dragon …

  3. Michael Ward says:

    I’m intrigued as to Why you have referred to John Chetwynd-Chatwin and a ‘rogue’ ?

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