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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Get Disoriented; Be Creative

“Expecting to be wrong about most things most of the time brings, finally, the kind of humility that leads to peace. I think.” – John Burdett

Born in London on this date in 1951, Burdett is a British crime novelist whose working career actually began as a lawyer – primarily at posts in the Far East, where he not only made a small fortune but also got most of the grist for what would become his writing mill.   The bestselling author of the Bangkok 8 series – the original and 5 sequels – he also gained acclaim with his blockbuster crime mystery The Last Six Million Seconds.

Set in Hong Kong in April and May 1997, just before the British turnover of the territory to mainland China, the novel deals with a horrific murder investigation and introduces one of his most interesting protagonists, half Irish-half Chinese Royal Hong Kong Police Chief Chan (“Charlie”) Siu-kai.

Burdett is the son of a London cop and traces his family back through carpenters and stonemasons on the eastern outskirts of London.  He decided early on that he wanted to see the world and write about it.  “The world other than as advertised,” he said,  “can be an amazing place.”  These days, he divides his time between Bangkok and a stone farmhouse in southwest France.        “I advise aspiring novelists when they complain to me that they are stuck, ‘Get disoriented,’” he said.  “Maybe your agonizing writing block isn’t agonizing enough.  Your enemy is comfort.”

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