Hello. I write international thrillers as well as non-fiction books on Asian history for travelers. My works include debut novel Gaijin Cowgirl (Crime Wave Press) and The Story of Angkor (Silkworm Books). I have been based in Hong Kong since 1997, where I built a career as an award-winning financial journalist, notably as the founding editor of AsianInvestor magazine and website. I once practiced muay thai (kickboxing) but now do yoga to clear away the hangovers.
Jame is almost my real name (it wasn’t my mom’s fault). I was born into a middle-class family in the US, and grew up reading Stephen King and Ian Fleming and watching “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. From the start I wanted to tell stories as exciting as those.
Early attempts were crude comics or handwritten adventures featuring lost pets. I got my hands on a typewriter in my early teens and churned out a few space operas. Then came word processors, the kind requiring you to download the software for five minutes via a cassette tape, and I branched into longer swords-and-sorcery epics. (In the eleventh grade, I took a typing class for an easy grade, and was the only kid to actually practice.)
My 20s were a fallow decade for writing: college, dead-end jobs, grad school, spells in Europe, and finally a parachuting into cut-throat finance journalism in New York…but no Great American Novel. Not even a lousy one.
In 1997 my employer transferred me to a small Hong Kong outpost, six months before Great Britain was due to transfer sovereignty over this colony to China. The Asian financial crisis erupted that same summer, which was a great learning experience for a young reporter with a travel budget.
Somewhere along the way, reading non-stop and mixing business with pleasure – or at least with a lot of drinking – I got some funny ideas. On a sweaty summer night (which is most nights in Hong Kong) I hunched over the laptop in my tiny apartment and began writing about a beautiful but troubled American woman working as a hostess in a Japanese nightclub. Val Benson, the Gaijin Cowgirl, was born.
If rejections still came by letter instead of by email, I could have covered the walls with them. Good thing I kept the day job. I married Mabel, a Hong Kong Chinese and a creative force in her own right, in 2005. Life was great, but it was missing one crucial thing.
Finally a new indie imprint, Crime Wave Press, published my novel Gaijin Cowgirl in 2013.
I have a passion for history and travel, and my next work was a departure from pulp thrillers: The Story of Angkor, a non-fiction tale about the Angkor civilization for visitors to the ancient temples in Cambodia. This was published by Silkworm Books, a Southeast Asia specialist.
My new thriller, Bloody Paradise, will be released in the spring of 2016 by US-based Water Street Crime.
This blog is important to me. I enjoy sharing reviews of cool books, updates on the writing biz, and opinion. My book reviews have appeared in Asian Review of Books, the South China Morning Post and the English-language version of Chinese publication Caixin. I’ve even appeared on BBC World to explain financial and political events (back when I had a goatee). I tweet #jamedibiasio; same handle for pics posted on Instagram.
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