Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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The Travels of Marco Yolo: Blazing Trails where Marco Polo Feared to Go


My friend Marco Ferrarese has published his latest and very very cool travel anthology, The Travels of Marco Yolo: Blazing Trails where Marco Polo Feared to Go.
It’s a great read that jumps all over Asia and the Middle East, including some pretty obscure and remote corners, proving that good travel writing survives among all the tepidly commercial literary terror out there.
Marco asked me to write the foreword, so here’s a short extract, conceived to aggrandize myself while riding the Ferrari crazy train…
“I first met Marco Ferrari in a flash Bangkok shopping centre, the type of soul-sucking consumerist hell we both detested. He’d emailed me asking to meet on his forthcoming jaunt to Thailand. Apparently he felt I was some kind of role model, being a German writer working in English who’d managed to scratch a living from my craft for the previous couple of decades. I took one look at his literary anarchist blog – Monkey Rock World – and thought, fuck, this guy likes all the things I like. That was a huge shock. I had to do something.
I told him that his career choice was awful, that freelance journalists were generally treated like shit and didn’t get paid properly and that fiction writing was a mug’s game for romantic losers. That was then of course. These days, things are much better. Journalists are now well respected and well funded. Writers are finally getting rich. Society now understands that without investigative, meaningful articles and great fiction, barbarism is never far away. I now employ sumo wrestlers to heat the gold plated pool on cool mornings and to cool it down on hot ones. They do that with their tongues, somehow…”

And the rather excellent cover is by Rizo Leong from the formidable Borneo based Pangrok Sulap art collective.

Crime Wave Press at Partners in Crime Radio – 1pm EST

The Death of Bangkok’s Amazing Streetfood in The Daily Telegraph

My thoughts on the imminent demise of Bangkok’s incredibly varied, often delicious and pretty cheap streetfood in today’s Daily Telegraph.

“Since the May 2014 military coup, Bangkok has been gradually changing from a chaotic, bustling happy-go-lucky south-east Asian capital with a hedonistic bent into an increasingly drab and orderly bargain basement version of Singapore,” said Tom Vater, our Bangkok expert.

“Street food lies at the heart of this development. The more than 20,000 street food vendors who currently face eviction have long been one of the city’s major attractions and Bangkok is regularly cited as one of the world’s street food capitals.

“Nonetheless, cleanliness issues, control and security concerns are the ruling military junta’s priority and so all street food must go. The vendors have not been offered adequate alternatives and the hundreds of thousands of poor who make the city run – from cleaners to taxi drivers – will no longer be able to afford to eat in downtown Bangkok.

“The tragedy is twofold – tourists will no longer enjoy delicious, cheap eats and Bangkok’s hardest working people will be pushed out of the city. What this will do to public and private services in the long run is anyone’s guess.”



Bangkok’s ‘motorcycle mamas’ roar into men’s world – in the Nikkei Asian Review

My latest article with Laure Siegel in the Nikkei Asian Review looks at how women enter the motorcycle taxi workforce in Bangkok, a traditionally male bastion. With fewer and fewer job opportunities for unskilled Thai women, riding a motorcycle taxi remains one profession that promises a degree of independence and freedom.

Read Bangkok’s ‘motorcycle mamas’ roar into men’s world here.

Crime Wave Press – The Movie

Here’s a little story from us at Crime Wave Press.

It’s about the struggle, as indie publishers, to birth great crime fiction into a market controlled by a few sluggish and conservative giants. It’s a fight we can’t win on our own. Having fantastic authors producing thrilling and captivating stories polished and edited close to perfection is not enough. We need readers who value quality, variety, exotic locations and non-mainstream points of view. Readers who know that freedom of choice is an empty promise when the choice presented is heavily culled to present the familiar.

Are you ready to become our Partners in Crime?

Today’s publishing world is dominated by a handful of giant conglomerates. Their risk averse gate-keeping results in the same authors and the same books being pushed in equally risk averse chain bookstores wherever we look.
The internet, in a counter move, has abolished all the controls and thrown out the baby with the bathwater in the process. Hundreds of thousands of books published with little to no quality control make it harder for talented authors to rise above the clutter.
At Crime Wave Press we’ve been publishing exceptional crime fiction since 2012. We love what we’re doing. Give our authors and books a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Remember: It’s always too late for someone.

Watch Crime Wave Press – The Movie!

Cast: Tom Vater, Hans Kemp, Patrae

Camera: Hans Kemp, Laure Siegel

Soundtrack: CharlieParadis

Thanks to Dasa Book Cafe in Bangkok


Rise Tattoo goes to India



























The brand new edition(#46) of Rise Tattoo, available at all good newsagents in France at present, features 16 pages on India by Laure Siegel and myself. We look at ethnic minorities tattooing, street styles, the world’s largest tattoo market in Delhi, political tattoos and Mumbai’s celebrity tattooists.

The Bangkok International Tattoo Expo

Just attended Bangkok’s International Tattoo Expo with writer Laure Siegel for French magazine Rise Tattoo.












Encountered a great cast of remarkable characters and some old friends.

My Rumble In The Jungle – Getting Tattooed In An Iban Village in Borneo










I have just published a guest post on The Next Best Book Blog on how I got tattooed in Borneo.


I was in the jungle in Borneo, somewhere, a day’s travel from Kuching – first by car, then by boat up a Conradian river, to an Iban longhouse community. I was on assignment with two French journalists to write and photograph a story on the tattoo traditions of the Iban.
The Iban are an ethnic minority living in Sarawak, Brunei and West Kalimantan on Borneo, former head hunters, but long socially check-mated by national politics, loggers and oil palm companies. And by cheap alcohol.
The young men in the villages we visited knew little about their grandfathers’ tattoos, but they did know a thing or two about getting so drunk in the mornings that the communal space in front of the private long house sections had turned into alcohol graveyards by mid-day. They called the stuff they drank langkau. It was made from rice, and perhaps lighter fuel, judging by its taste.
Well, they say that if you can’t fight them, join them, but I am not a drinker and don’t like having a glass shoved into my face for days on end. Other problems, the usual casualties of alcohol abuse in remote areas, soon manifested. Dark stuff. The booze really was doing damage to this community.
To complicate things, Obama friend and master TV chef Anthony Bourdain, the Donald Trump of cooking, had been to the village the previous year and had given every villager a fistful of cash in return for their cooperation while he shot his culinary reality apocalypse. This had created significant and unrealistic expectations of our little group of poor-ass, underpaid freelance journalists who needed to get the story on the cheap…

Read the full story here.

Roy Harper interviewed at Noir on the Radio

“Being an outlaw is about freedom, it sets you loose from the boundaries of society, the boundaries of law, and the things that hold you back. The limits of where you can and can’t go and what you can and can’t do. If you have no boundaries there, then that’s the freedom that it gives you.”

Noir on the Radio host Greg Barth interviews Crime Fiction author Roy Harper and it’s absolutely epic.

Roy Harper has been incarcerated in Mississippi since 1981 for armed robbery. He has gained nationwide notoriety for two highly publicized escapes from a maximum security prison in 1983 and 2000 and for his efforts in the courts to reduce brutality and injustice in American jails.

Roy Harper is the author of Shank and Heist, both published by Crime Wave Press.

Listen to this truly incredible interview here.

Interview on Creative Writer’s Post














Liz Kingsbury McKeown interviews me about my writing career.

It was fun.

Do something creative with your life. Don’t work for a boss in an office all your life. Don’t fall into consumerist trappings. Don’t get a mortgage if it means having to earn money day and night to make payments. Stay free enough so you have time to write. Once you have to make time, it all gets very difficult. Contribute something to the community. Don’t expect to be financially secure. If that is a priority for you, do something else.

Read the whole story at Creative Writer’s Boost.