‹ Back to 'Books' main page

The Siamese Connection

"Blood on the Keyboard – Vampire novels and the rise of Anti-Heroes."

 


The Siamese Connection is the fourth book in the Vampire Of Siam series - an epic tale that spans half the globe and a course of 150 years.

In The Vampire Of Siam (Book 1) a nineteenth century explorer, Ramonne Delacroix encounters an ancient Chinese demon in the temples of Angkor Wat. He is bitten (twice) and transformed into a creature of the night. The Chinese vampire banishes him (he wants Cambodia all to himself) and so he journeys to Siam where he witnesses the coronation of kings and the capital's metamorphosis into the modern day city of Bangkok.

Living the life of the lone hunter for the first 145 years of his incarnation as a night stalker, the vampire is reborn in Ramonne (Book 2) and eventually seeks to know the true extent of his powers. As he learns, he evolves. By the second book's end, the Vampire's strength is enormous and he has control of the true magic he has been vested with.

In The Reckoning, (Book 3) armed with this new-found knowledge, Ramonne seeks the source of his powers and journeys back to Cambodia and the ancient temples to a fateful encounter with Zhoupeng – the mighty devil who "turned him" so many years before. Ramonne vows to put an end to his reign of evil over the poor land and an epic battle ensues.

Throughout the three books, Ramonne's fate is inextricably entwined with that of Martin Larue – wealthy American ex-pat. Drawn together by mutual admiration and fascination, they eventually end up relying on each other to sort out the twisted path they find themselves thrust upon. Together they face vampire-hunters, corrupt cops, opium dens, bordellos, blind fortune-tellers, jealous lovers, terrorists, suicide-bombers, smugglers, warlords and soul-sucking demons.

It's been a little over 4 years since I wrote the last Vampire of Siam tale. In the interim I wrote 2 novels. First was Chasing Jimi, followed by Tinsel Town.


Click here to see 'Bangkok Scene' article and video.

'NEW BOOK ON Jim Thompson sheds light on his CIA role & disappearance'.
Click here to see the Newsweek magazine article.


 

All books are available at all Asia Books & Bookazine stores. Signed copies of all books and CDs are available from the author. For more information please click here.



 
Press
 

Lang Reid - Pattaya Mail
 

Jim Newport is a writer with great skills in describing non-stop, hold your breath action, and his latest book The Siamese Connection (ISBN 978-616-90861-0-9, Willat Publishing, 2011) has plenty of action, to make it a true thriller. Add in the fact that the principal character in the book is a 175 year old vampire Ramonne Delacroix, and you have the fear factor that vampires engender.

This is the fourth book in the Vampire of Siam series, and of course, with vampires that have always been notoriously difficult to kill, you can always bring the anti-hero back again for another book.

A quick internet search will turn up methods to kill your vampire including fire a silver bullet blessed by a priest into his heart and drive an aspen, ash or white thorn stake through his heart with a single blow. However, this will not work in the case of Ramonne Delacroix, as author Newport states categorically that his vampire has no heart at all, but there is a pump elsewhere in his body that circulates his vampire food.

Newport writes in the cinematic flashback style, which sits well with his own background in the visual media; however, I must admit that when reading this book I was getting confused as to what time scale I was in. With visual stimuli it is easier to identify the era, without them, it can be difficult.

In this particular vampire tale, Ramonne becomes involved in a post WWII Japanese secret society, whose operatives become entangled with the American OSS, which later becomes the CIA. Naturally the 'good guys' are the Americans, aided and abetted by the vampire, who pulls the Americans out of the fire many times. (In fact it would appear that the CIA need Ramonne right now.)

Plenty of side sub-plots with an American sweating on the results of an IVF pregnancy, a Thai lady for whom Ramonne had returned to normal living after a period as a vampire, and even Ramonne himself flirting with normal life and enjoying the odd daytime excursion, something he had not been able to do for around 150 years, and a love tryst between two OSS members.

As the excitement mounts, the full-scale war between the enemy and the good guys escalates, but with the added problem that the other side wouldn't stay dead and kept on popping up again. Throw in a crooked Thai senior policeman and go on from there.

Newport has mastered the art of 'faction' in his books (Chasing Jimi, his book on Jimi Hendrix being a good example) and uses the ploy of describing actual places and persons to lend an air of authenticity to the plot. The usual disclaimer is in the front of the book, with references to people and places living or dead, but this is totally ignored when you use people such as Jim Thompson, the silk king and Kurt Wachtveitel (ex GM of the Oriental Hotel) in the plot.

At B. 590 in Asia Books/Bookazine it is a captivating read for those of ghoulish inclination. Me? I prefer my villains with the heads on.


 

Bangkok Post
American author Jim Newport talks about his vampire books set in Thailand
By: Devin Heroux
 
Newspaper section: Life


In the softly lit room of the Bamboo Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, American author Jim Newport is busy explaining his newest vampire novel, The Siamese Connection. It's the fourth novel of his Vampire of Siam series.

Soft blues music plays in the background as Newport recalls the many nights he spent in the lounge dreaming up scenes that would become chapters in his books. A glazed look falls over his eyes as he describes parts of his stories he knows so well.

"I've sat here many nights watching everything unfold," he explained. "This is really one of my favourite places. I've set more than one scene in here."

When the book-writing began for the Phuket-based author seven years ago, Newport never dreamed he would end up writing four novels. In fact, after the completion of his first book, The Vampire of Siam, he thought his work was done.

"When I wrote the first vampire book I thought that was it. I thought it was a one-off," said Newport. "Then about four months later, I started think about how much I liked the characters and the theme, so I had to rebirth the vampire."

Vampire fiction was a fairly new concept in mainstream Thai society at the time of his first novel, so Newport knew he was taking a few risks.

"I'm a pioneer in the vampire world and everyone thinks I'm rich _ that isn't the case," he said.

The first book received so much praise that Newport sold the rights to the novel to be made into a Hollywood film. Seven years later, he is still waiting for the movie to be made but says Millennium Films is very keen on doing it at some point.

Since the first book, Newport has written five other novels, including three more vampire books, and two other books. Chasing Jimi, is a novel about Jimi Hendrix, and Tinsel Town – Another Rotten Day in Paradise is a novel based on Newport's earlier life in the film industry in Hollywood. He credits a lot of his writing success to living in Phuket.

"I came here many years ago looking for an island culture and to find a place where I could work and see if I could be a writer," he recalls. "Every time I had a break I went around looking for an island around the world; eventually I came to Phuket. It is quite a paradise."

By why vampires? It's a question Newport grappled with for a while before coming to the realisation that every time he flew from the US to Thailand, something mesmerising happened.

"The vampire idea came about from the feeling you get when you come here after the long, long, long flight," he laughed. "Sometimes you don't see the sunlight for days after getting here, and I found myself on a night-time-only schedule."

This nocturnal lurking throughout Bangkok became the premise of Newport's series. He would spend many late nights and early mornings watching the city transform from a bustling, frantic place to an eerie, mysterious world full of nighttime characters. In the pages of his books, neighbourhoods of Bangkok are exposed; it's as if the series is a riveting encyclopaedia of fact and fiction. Readers of the books will find undercurrents of local history, art, music and myth.

"People who read these books are going to go on great journeys," he said. "I think they are page-turners and easy reads. In the newest book people are going to learn a lot about Bangkok after World War II."

In the early going, Newport faced a lot of criticism for writing vampire books. He says there was a lot of prejudice towards the idea of vampires. However, his character isn't a stereotypical one; you won't find stakes going through the heart or garlic cloves in his books. To make sure he didn't fall into a trap of the same old typical vampire story, Newport set a list of criteria for his novels.

"There are rules you have to come up with when you're writing vampires books, and one of those rules is that you don't get turned into a vampire if you're killed by a vampire," he explained. "I didn't want to leave Bangkok full of vampires [so] I decided you have to be bitten twice."

While Newport admits he's probably finished with vampires, he still has one more novel left to write. His fascination with music, history and the legend of Jimi Hendrix is something he wants to explore further.

"It would be called Losing Jimi," he said. "I don't want to write a downer book about Jimi, but I want to write about all the myths that are spinning around about his death."

Writing books isn't the only thing Newport is well known for in this area of the world. He also loves music and can be found performing at the Phuket Blues festival annually under his music alias, Jimmy Fame. For more than 20 years he's gone by that performing name. The international man of mystery and talent got his start on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

People interested in hearing from the author on all things vampire-related can listen to Newport speak about his latest book on Tuesday, Sept 20 at 7:30pm at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand. He will be speaking about the craft of writing a vampire novel set in Bangkok and the diminishing divide between killers and heroes in today's fiction. He'll also try and explain, at last, the mysterious disappearance of Jim Thompson, one of the original partners in the restoration of the Oriental Hotel and the man responsible for reviving Thailand's silk industry.

 

Bangkok Trader
Jim Newport's 'Vampire of Siam' Series: Blood, sex, murder, and mystery in Bangkok
 


PosterVampire literature is back in everyone's focus. As a matter of fact, it seems that bookstores have their bookshelves crammed with vampire adventures, both for young adult readers and the adult readership. This, however, has nothing to do with Jim Newport, who finished his Vampire of Siam trilogy in 2006. Comprised of The Vampire of Siam (2004), Ramonne – The Return of The Vampire of Siam (2005) and The Reckoning – The Tale of the Vampire of Siam (2006), Jim's trilogy tells the reader the story of Ramonne Delacroix, a 175-year-old French vampire that made Bangkok his home. This year, Jim Newport added a forth novel to the series, The Siamese Connections.

It seems that Jim Newport had three good years in which he published, first at Asia Books, then at Willat Publishing, his vampire books. And, to be honest, Thailand needed these novels to fill in the gap of a niche writing that hasn't been explored until Jim entered the scene. To my knowledge, there are no other vampire books about / set in Thailand.

In the first book, The Vampire of Siam, we are introduced to Martin Larue, a man wealthy beyond measure who has made Bangkok his home. He likes to attend film festivals all over the globe, tries his hand at cinema journalism, and enjoys the finer things in life. But he is jaded and bored and he desperately needs some excitement. That is until Martin uncovers a serial killer in the City of Angels and his article is front-page news. This leads to a visit from the murderer himself, a sophisticated and worldly vampire called Ramonne. A bond is formed between the two and Martin becomes intoxicated by the vampire's powers. On the verge of crossing to the dark side himself, Martin is betrayed and plunged into a mortal hell, from which he will ultimately learn a lesson about how precious life really is.

PosterMy favourite of all four books is the second one, Ramonne – The Return of The Vampire of Siam, with its bloody narrative, which weaves throughout the novel on three different paths. First, you have the story of Martin Larue's return from a year of monkhood and the start of a relationship with Yaya, another character from the first book. Then, you have Kanchana, a rich Thai woman who resurrects Ramonne in search of eternal health and beauty, only to later regret her transformation into a vampire. Third, there's Mestaphel, the Muslim terrorist, who plans to blow up Bangkok's red light district. The one that connects these three plots is, of course, Ramonne, who gets a job as a hitman.

What I find hard to understand is the author's choice of using the "f" word almost every other page. No doubt that any vampire novel needs its share of sex and violence, but gratuitous foul language only wipes out a whole lot of possible readers. Or, maybe, I've been immersed in my own world for so long that I lost track of reality and, actually, Jim's dialogue is a good mirror of what is being said out there, in the world of Bangkok's red light districts.

A plethora of other characters, some brought to life only as a means to satisfy Ramonne's and Kanchana's appetite for blood, litter the rest of the novel. From bodyguards, blind shamans, prostitutes, crooks, mafia bosses, politicians, drunkard police officers, gangsters, religious fanatics, drivers, and trusted servants, they all form the ingredients of a recipe Jim Newport would like us to believe is part of every day life in Bangkok.

PosterThe Reckoning – The Tale of the Vampire of Siam, book number three in trilogy, takes the reader on a wild trip from Paris to Angkor Wat, to ancient Siam and then to modern-day Bangkok. The readers are made private to Ramonne's quest for the secrets of his past. Finding his old journal in Paris, Ramonne retraces the fateful journey that he made in 1858 with Henri Mohout to Southeast Asia (an expedition that happened in real life!). Martin Larue is back, this time as the founder of an orphanage and a school in Cambodia, right outside the gates of the ancient temples of Angkor. Here, Martin's fate is once again entwined with Ramonne's: the vampire encounters Zhoupeng, a thousand-year old creature whose bite originally transformed him.

The fourth and last book (at least, for now!) in the Vampire of Siam series is The Siamese Connections. The novel begins in Bangkok in 1948, shortly after the end of World War II and the Japanese occupation. Ramonne becomes involved in a quest for the Oracle, a mysterious, supernatural artifact that was hidden during the war by the Japanese. He joins forces with American expat Jim Thompson (who, rumors have it, before he became the "Silk King," was an OSS agent) and together they wage war against the Black Dragons. The tale picks up where the third book left off. Of course, Martin Larue and his pregnant wife cross paths with the vampire, and soon they too are involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Japanese, who are also in search of the Oracle.

vampire4-SiameseJim Neport's style of writing is typical to someone who has been in the movie industry for a long time: brief and concise. The author, a production designer for both film and television (Jim worked with Nicholas Cage in the 2008 Bangkok Dangerous), leaves the impression that his books are actually extended movie scripts. The novels are dialogue-driven, with very little emphasis on descriptions and characterization. Bottom line, the Vampire of Siam is an action-packed series that reads easily and makes a good companion on a trip to the beach.

All four books are actually stand-alone novels, but I recommend reading the quadrilogy in its chronological order. Still, Jim Newport inserts enough background information in all his vampire books so that the reader is not left with unanswered questions regarding the relationship between the vampire and Martin Larue, Ramonne's old "friend".

Jim Newport has been living in Thailand for 15 years, with frequent flights to Los Angeles. From his base in Phuket, he has also published two other books about Hollywood and Jimi Hendrix: Tinsel Town and Chasing Jimi.



HOME  |  BIO  |  BOOKS  |  MUSIC  |  FILM  |  CONTACT

Email. jfamenewport@gmail.com
FOLLOW MY UPDATES



© 2012 - All Rights Reserved Site Developed By Cre8 Media