Featured Interview With Stephen Shaiken
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in New York City, and spent over three decades as criminal defense lawyer in San Francisco. These days I split my time between Tampa, Florida, and Bangkok, Thailand.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I fell in love with books the minute I could read. I started writing fiction and taking creative writing classes at Queens college, NYC. Before I went to law school I came out West for a few years and earned an M.S. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I’m eclectic, to say the least.
My favorite genres are suspense and thrillers, including detective and police stories. I also love literary fiction.
My favorite English language literary authors of today are Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Mary Gordon, Paul Theroux, Alice Walker, Ward Just, Joan Didion and E.L. Doctorow. I love the novels of Ismail Kadare, an Albanian whose work is all translated. In the suspense/thriller/detective genre, Loren Estleman, James Lee Burke,J.J Vance, Walter Mosley, Sara Paretsky (recently deceased).
Past masters I revere and who have influenced me include Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott. Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, Flannery O’Conner, Dashiell Hammett, and too many others to list.
And I devour post-apocalyptic and dystopian science fiction.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Bangkok Shadows tells the story of Glenn Murray Cohen, a stressed-out American criminal defense lawyer who grabs a bundle of cash from a murdered client and creates a new life for himself in Bangkok. For seven years he leads an idyllic existence, and then he is dragged into a CIA plot to kidnap a Russian gangster, a scheme that risks his life and those of his closest friends from the mysterious NJA Club. Glenn is totally unsuited for this task but he has to learn quickly.
This seemed like the perfect book for me to write: I was a real-life criminal defense lawyer, I was living in Thailand, and I love the thriller genre.
It started as a series of character sketches and then it took on a life of its own. By the time I wrote the last line, I felt like Glenn Murray Cohen and his NJA Club cohorts were friends of mine. I could picture Glenn and the others: Sleepy Joe, the hippie, full of surprises; Oliver, the go-to guy for information you can’t get elsewhere; , the deceptively oafish-looking Rhode Island Joe; The General, who defies categorization; the beautiful and elusive Noi; and Panchen, the wise and skillful Thai lawyer.
The City of Bangkok is present trhoughout the book, almost like a character. It affords the novel a strange atmospheric mix of noir and exoticism.
Word is that there may be more books featuring Glenn and the NJA Club.
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