This was a question posed in a blog title by an writer friend, Andrew Carter. Andrew is a great writer, one of my favourites, but it was one of the article’s replies I thought could be of support to today’s battle-weary writers. It was by Don A. Singletary. I’ll post links to the article and authors below.
It is easy to see you are a determined, a talented communicator, and have the rarest of human virtues — to be honest with your readers and yourself at the same time. That’s a great lineup. You covered a great many topics that regularly walk through the minds of all writers I think. The best thing about being a writer is that it is a solo occupation, and the worst thing about being a writer is that it is a solo occupation. A few days ago, I read a post that held a few quotes by famous writers; reading your words reminded me of some of these:
This gem of a read has interest for everyone. It will appeal to those who have made a five-kilometre jog the limit of their running experience as well as those aspiring to run distance – particularly the length of the country itself. Those who enjoy living their adventures vicariously from the comfort of an armchair and who may have never given the sport a second thought will also appreciated its page-turning grip.
A rich vein of wonderful and quirkily descriptive English flows from Gavin’s Scottish pen like a seasoned wordsmith. He places you so firmly into his running shoes that as someone in preparation to complete the challenge myself I was actually a little disappointed – because thanks to Gavin’s exciting, detailed and inclusive narrative I feel like I’ve run it already and have to do it all again! In truth, alongside Gavin’s clever observations, ever-present sense of humour and self-deprecating wit, there’s a wealth of winning detail, from planning and navigating the route, to booking accommodation, liaising with support vehicles, which kit to take and what to fuel your body with.
‘Downhill from Here’ is not pitched to the wannabe-macho somewhat naïve audience that lap up over-hyped nonsense. You won’t see our ‘hero’ surmount impossible odds or breakthrough a superhuman-pain threshold and the barriers of endurance while achieving a cheering mass of mere mortal followers struggling to keep up with his momentous pace in the Rocky Balboa-style. Gavin not only tells you of his personal history, shortcomings and motivation but also – and quite often! – how not to go about running from John O’ Groats to Land’s End. Candidly, he retells how he loses his way on many occasions, which has you shivering on top of a Pennine Peak clad in a pair of shorts with him or up to your neck, camera equipment held aloft, attempting to ford a bitterly cold river. You can expect the police and the goodwill of strangers, hikers, pub landlords and farmers to help our protagonist on his way on more than one occasion.
And how delighted was I to find that after running with Gavin for less than half a day (when his 1117-mile route passed twenty miles from my home) and being treated to a meal for my efforts, he went on to include a couple of pages about my own life story along with a photo which makes for a great souvenir. Gavin is honest and generous, an accomplished writer (and filmmaker) and a credit to the long-distance or ‘ultra’ running community. This book makes for a seminal text with respect to ‘running’ that most British of British endeavours, the JOGTLE.
“Like Jack Reacher? You’re gonna love The Trade.” RTHK
“Original, thrilling and extremely clever …” Time
Former Navy SEAL Hans Larsson arrives on Cape Verde to retrieve his daughter’s body from a sunken yacht. But in a frightening turn of events, he uncovers the island’s dark secret, the Trade. In his role as special operative, Hans employs the Concern’s covert global reach and sophisticated technology to expose a vile chain leading all the way to Washington.
Just a quick intro to my A Hans Larsson Novel book series – the video explains it all and is worth watching for avid readers of books and up-and-coming authors. It’s day 2 of the series launch with The Drift and The Trade and we are already hitting the bestseller categories on Amazon and the five-star reviews are pouring in. Very rewarding after 3 years hard work.
Here’s the blurb for The Drift
“Following the death of his wife and son, Hans Larsson buys a yacht named Future, intending to sail across the Atlantic with his young daughter Jessica. En route they meet Penny, a seasoned English skipper, who joins them as crew, and the larger-than-life Marcel, a Dutch art dealer hiding a secret, along with a stash of drugs on his vintage boat. Battling storms, sharks and pirates, Hans and Jessica experience the adventure of a lifetime, until fate intervenes to leave them fighting for survival on an ocean less perilous than the mind . . .”
“Among the best of the newcomers” The Star
“From the shores of Maine to a cannabis farm in Morocco and a production line in Japan, The Drift will have you frantically turning pages and wondering how the hell it will end.” Bestselling author, Mark Time
The Trade is the second book in the series and I’m very happy with the clever follow-up!
I left the British Marines to run a successful business in Hong Kong but less than a year alter was in psychosis from crystal meth addiction and working for the 14K, a triad crime syndicate, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Every one says Tom Hardy for me – although he’d have to be a good deal younger!
WHEN handsome young Marine Chris Thrall left the Forces to move to Hong Kong, he expected to make his fortune.
But within months he was homeless, alone and fighting an enemy more dangerous than anything he faced serving his country — crystal meth.
Chris almost lost his sanity and his life after becoming addicted to crystal meth, also known as ice. Now he supports others how to quit drugs and has written a bestselling book, Eating Smoke, about his experience.
Click HERE to read about how Chris’s life was before he quit drugs and showed others how to quit drugs.
He says: “I loved my time in the Marines and the challenges that came with each day. But looking back, it was nothing compared to what I faced at the height of my addiction to crystal meth.”
Sadly, Chris is one of a growing number of the drug’s victims.
Meth is twice as addictive as heroin and more damaging to health than crack cocaine.
After ravaging communities across Asia, Australia and the US, it is now on Britain’s streets, sold for as little as £10 a gram — which is enough to keep a user on a permanent high for nine days.
Chris, from Plymouth, never dabbled in drugs during his time in the Royal Marine Commandos. He joined up at 18 and served seven years, including stints in Northern Ireland, before quitting to launch a marketing firm in Asia.
He said: “I loved being a Marine. I was doing something for my country and earning better money than friends who’d gone to university. But I got involved in an exciting business venture and went to Hong Kong to make my millions.”
Unfortunately, the venture failed and his company went bust.
Chris, now 42, says: “It was hard. I had racked up a lot of debt and suddenly I was jobless.”
He found a job at a Hong Kong firm marketing computer chips after answering an ad.
A few months after joining, Chris walked in on a colleague in the toilets smoking meth, which can also be snorted or injected.
He recalls: “He offered me some and I thought, ‘Why not? How harmful can it be if he’s smoking it in the middle of the day?’ I took two puffs.
“Back at my computer, I suddenly felt this rush. It was like nothing I’d ever felt. I knew I was addicted straight away. The next day I wanted more.”
At first crystal meth — scientific name methamphetamine — made Chris feel fantastic and there was no shortage of dealers.
He says: “I could pick it up on the way home from work. It was as easy as buying milk.”
But things soon got out of control.
Chris said: “I was getting nowhere in the office so I got a job as a nightclub doorman in Wan Chai — the red light district. I thought if I worked at night, I wouldn’t be able to take drugs.
“But that soon went out the window. My addiction was life consuming. I was on it constantly. It overloaded my brain and I began to lose the plot. You’re incredibly tired so you hallucinate. On top of that, psychosis starts to develop. I found myself wondering how to quit drugs.”
A former drug user publishes his memoir of working for the 14K Hong Kong triads
In the 1990s, former Royal Marine Chris Thrall found himself being sucked into a downward spiral in Hong Kong, when his work as a Wanchai bouncer drew him into the world of triads and crystal meth addiction. Now 42, off drugs and pursuing a new life, Thrall reveals how he saw the end — and found a future — in his autobiography “Eating Smoke.”
CNNGo: Considering your addiction, how were you able to remember things so clearly?
Chris Thrall: Using crystal meth and the psychosis I experienced didn’t affect my memory. I think when you’re young and finding yourself in the world –- especially in such a memorable setting as Hong Kong -– you remember an awful lot, particularly the pertinent things like relationships you had with people and the crazy things you get up to.
“Eating Smoke” is a collection of those memories. I also experienced a great deal of highs, lows and trauma. Incidents you don’t forget in a hurry. There’s probably also a lot I don’t remember and probably just as well.
The secrets of Hong Kong’s underworld are revealed in the soon-to-be-released Eating Smoke. Hannah Slapper speaks to author Chris Thrall to separate fact from fiction
In 1995, UK-born Royal Marine Chris Thrall came to Hong Kong to make his fortune. Once here, his business went bankrupt, and a series of unsuccessful jobs led him to work in Wan Chai as a doorman for one of the biggest triad groups, the 14K. Dwelling in the criminal underworld drove him to drugs; he became addicted to crystal methamphetamine, and suffered from clinical psychosis. Now, 15 years on, he is ready to tell his story.
So Chris, how much contact did you really have with the triads?
I had contact with them every day. One of my fellow doormen was a 6’7”assassin that used to be smuggled into China to do a hit on someone and smuggled back into Hong Kong. So from that perspective I was quite up close and personal. I won’t give too much away in regard to my own involvement; I think that would ruin it for the reader. It was a phenomenal insight into the underworld. It could be incredibly traumatic.
What made you want to write this book?
There were a number of reasons. Firstly I think it gives a fascinating insight into a part of life not many people get to know about. One of which is referred to as the foreign triad, which is a Hong Kong crime syndicate made up entirely of expats, who operate using the exact same clandestine methods as the Chinese gangs do, such as communicating with secret hand signs and gestures. Another reason I wrote it is because I thought it would be interesting for people to read a book from the point of view of someone who is slowly slipping into psychosis and mental illness from using drugs. It’s not exactly an area that many people get an opportunity to experience firsthand, and then get to write about afterwards. Thirdly, because I think I had a kind of innate desire to
do something creative and prove myself as a writer.
You claim it to be true – did it all happen exactly as you say?
Exactly. I had a friend say to me a while back on a night out – why didn’t you write the book as fiction? And I said to him “Why would I want to take a story that is so bizarrely insane, it’s got to be one of the craziest ones ever told, and then tell everyone it wasn’t true?” I didn’t have to flower it up, I didn’t have to add anything.
What kind of trauma did you experience?
To descend into mental illness is an incredibly sad thing for anyone to have to go through. I can’t say too much about it, but in the club I worked I was set up to be murdered one night, by these foreign triads that I mentioned. And there was that cold dark moment of reality where you realise you’re about to die. I actually turned it around, but I’m not the sort of person that is easily intimidated.
How much do you think Hong Kong is to blame for making you the way you were?
It probably doesn’t help that Hong Kong has the most hardcore serious drug known to man available in abundance on every street corner, if you know where to look. Hong Kong really brought home to me how cultures can differ immensely. It’s about the philosophy and the psychology. And the Asian psychology is so ancient; it’s so different to the West.
How did you go about getting your story published?
I was very fortunate. I came across this guy called Tom Carter who put together an incredible book called China: Portrait of a People. I came across this article he wrote called Down and Out in Hong Kong and I sent him a message explaining that I actually was down and out in Hong Kong and asked if he would be interested in reading my book. He called me the day after I’d sent it to him saying he’d already got me a publishing deal. It was an incredible moment. The thought that 15 years ago I was that man you cross over the street to avoid, and now I’ve got all these people looking forward to my book being released. It’s a wonderful feeling.
To keep updated and support Eating Smoke on Facebook, click HERE
“Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong, but following a bizarre series of jobs ended up homeless and in psychosis from crystal meth.
He began working for the 14K, a notorious crime syndicate, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district, where he uncovered a vast global conspiracy and the ‘Foreign Triad’ – a secretive expat clique in cahoots with the Chinese gangs.
Alone and confused in the neon glare of Hong Kong’s seedy backstreets, Chris was forced to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, hooked on the world’s most dangerous drug.
Engaging, honest and full of Chris’s irrepressible humour, this remarkable memoir combines gripping storytelling with brooding menace as the Triads begin to cast their shadow over him. The result is a truly psychotic urban nightmare …”
To keep updated and support Eating Smoke on Facebook, click HERE