Dominic Lavin, a regular contributor to Khaosanroad.com has recently published his first novel entitled "Last Seen in Bangkok", he is 36 years old and comes from Wigan which was in Lancashire England before they moved it to Greater Manchester. Here's what we talked about when we caught up with him recently.
Let's start from the beginning, what was it originally brought you to Thailand?
A jumbo jet (laughs).
I mean what were the reasons for coming here?
I think I was trying to find an island like the one in The Beach, no to be honest I was and still am involved in Thai Boxing so that was the main driving force among a general interest in the place and culture and a desire to broaden my horizons. I'd got sick of the herd mentality in the UK and wanted to spread my wings, explore alternatives.
When was that?
'95 I think, I've lost the passport with the first stamp in it, it could have been 1994 I'm not sure. If my old mate Tommy Dodds checks in he might put a fix on it.
What was it like then?
It was a bit of a shock to the system to be honest, especially Bangkok, I remember walking through the brown glass doors into the arrivals hall and thinking "F*** me!". I mean I'd visited a lot of Western Europe but never seen anything like it. It was just a mass of humanity, sweat musty odours it was great, the traffic was at standstill it was before the Skytrain and it took two hours to get round the corner. For a lot of reasons I've always felt a bit sort of marginalised, disenfranchised in Europe and there was something about the place that just said 'welcome', I'd never been here before but it felt like home.
Have you noticed any changes since then?
Yeah. Things have changed massively to some extent it's a different place, it's become a lot more westernised, there's McDonalds and Starbucks all over the place, and modern buildings going up left right and centre, in some ways it's becoming what I was trying to get away from, but it's still Thailand at heart I don't think you can ever change that. It's becoming a lot saner and tamer though. If you look at the rate of development in Ko Samui the place is almost unrecognisable from the undiscovered tropical paradise of 12 years ago which in some ways is a shame, but you can't say to the locals, "Stay poor and don't develop your land" can you ?
So what's the book about then?
You'll have to read it and find out. It's very reasonably priced at...
Come on give us a bit of a clue?
Well to start with it is fiction I want to point that much out. It's about a bloke who's really become disillusioned with things in the UK and "conspires" to start a new life over here. It's full of the sort of things you can't really tell your Mum about.
So it's a bit gritty then?
Well you know it's a sort of warts and all tale, the side of life you don't see in glossy brochures, there's sex, drugs, violence, it's like a rap video with white guys in it, or a cross between Trainspotting and the Beach.
What inspired you to write it?
At the time I was still spending most of my time in the UK and getting seriously fed up with my job and lifestyle, I was in Golden Beer Bar on Soi 4 back in 2000 celebrating my 30th birthday with a very very good friend of mine and I sort of looked out onto the street and soaked up what I can best describe as "the freak show" and thought "I've really got to write about this." Then a couple of years later my moons aligned in such a way that allowed the project to happen.
What exactly happened?
I got sacked and wrote the book to fill my day.
I'm starting to notice a few parallels between the storyline and your life style is there any truth in that?
Ahem certainly not, I lead a pure and simple lifestyle, my day includes 6 hours of yoga, 3 organic fruit juices two hours tai chi and green tea before bed. Oh alright there is a bit of me in there, you can only really draw on your personal experiences but to be honest I've spent a lot of time and money on bacchanalia in the last ten years or so and even if the spirits still willing the body's starting to get weak.
Who or what do you see as your influences?
I grew up in the North West of England in the eighties, so a lot of people have been through the terrace culture, rave scene etc etc etc. You know the old Scally fashions and lifestyles. From a writing point of view my Dad was an English Teacher so the house was always full of books and my nose was often buried in one when I wasn't getting into fights.
Can you be more specific?
Not really, I'm a grumpy git. No in terms of writing I've read a lot of good and bad, I like Irvine Welsh, Kev Sampson, Hunter S Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, Burns all the blokey blokes stuff, although I've got a mate called Chloe Poems from Manchester, he's a gay socialist transvestite poet, he's my polar opposite but we get on like a house on fire and his writing's fantastic if you get the chance definitely read his work. I've always liked a lot of the 'Manchester Bands' especially New Order, I had the privilege of interviewing Peter Hook recently for www.khaosanroad.com which was great. Every now and then I'll read something like 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' and think "F*** me I'll never be as good as that", I like Brett Easton Ellis as well, but you get times and I'll omit names out of diplomacy but you read things by so called big name authors and think "That's sh***. That's an unreadable f***ing disgrace."
I believe there's some hidden symbolism in the book; can you tell me more about that ?
Tough one that you'll have to work it out for yourself, (laughs) it's a secret. The book as a whole is a sort of onomatopoeia a metaphor and there's other symbols that have a meaning but I'll leave that to you to try and suss out. It's not Dan Brown sort of crypto logical stuff but it'll be interesting to hear people's theories.
Are you writing any more books?
It's bad luck to talk about that.
What are your ambitions your aspirations?
Oh you know nothing special... 1000 square metre condo in Thong Lo with a Bentley Turbo in Wigan Athletic blue in the car park. No, to be honest I just want to stay happy and keep living the good life. I love Thailand, my life at the moment is reasonably happy in a lot of ways, I'd like to be able to carry on writing and have people like what I write although I know I'll have my critics. Just actually seeing this effort get off the ground is a relief after all this time.
Any final words?
Mine's a Guinness.