December 7 is approaching

“Pearl Harbor and More”, a great title for a great collection of stories, all focused on that fateful date in 1941 when the world changed forever. A date that marks the beginning of the end of the great British, Dutch and French colonial empires in the East, of the emergence of a whole new global powerstructure and a cold war as a consequence.

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We, as authors, have tried to capture some of the pivotal events that happened on that day. Not only on the US Navy base at Hawaii but in many other places, like France, Germany, Ireland, the US … and Singapore.
My contribution to the anthology takes place in that seemingly impregnable bastion of the British empire. Here is the first chapter, introducing you to Singapore life on December 6, 1941:

…. Mike Murdoch made his way through the streets of Singapore on a quiet Saturday afternoon, trying to get a feeling for the town. He wandered slowly westward from his hotel in Queen Street and, after giving Raffles Statue in Empress Place a passing nod, he came to the Singapore Cricket Club’s grounds. There, a score of white-clad people were scattered all over the field and two of them were frantically running forwards and backwards, but to what purpose he did not know. Shaking his head he walked on; the rules of that game were beyond him.

As he crossed the bridge to Fullerton Road and passed in front of the General Post Office towards Change Alley, the character of the town changed radically. Within moments he was immersed in a bustling, noisy crowd that was haggling at market stalls and rushing in and out of shops. Content to drift on this human tide, he was slowly but surely carried towards Raffles Place, the heart of the old town and his destination for today. A glance at his watch told him he still had plenty of time before his appointment with the photographer, so he sat down with a beer in a small bar, took out his notebook and jotted down his latest thoughts.

“Europe has been at war for two whole years now but the conflict barely seems to have scratched the surface of life in the British and Dutch colonies in the east. The British ‘Raj’ still sedately rules large parts of Asia. Under the swaying punkahs at Raffles, curry tiffin is served daily to the Gentlemen and Ladies of the Empire who, despite the broiling hot and humid weather, are fully dressed in tropical suits complete with starched shirts, collar and tie plus the odd Panama hat, the ladies in summer cotton dresses and large, wilting straw bonnets. In the thriving markets and shopping streets of this city, the fact that half a world away a violent war is being fought seems to be unknown. And for the Dutch it seems to be business as usual, except that the war-induced demand for oil and raw materials makes for a brisker trade.”

Taking a sip of beer, he thought about his next lines.

“Whenever someone disturbs the complacent mood in the Singapore clubs and hotels by voicing his concern about the warlike rumblings coming from far-off Japan, it is met with derisive laughter. Never will the Japanese be foolish enough to start a war, if only because of the great Royal Navy!”

He closed his notebook with a grunt and inwardly cursed his editor-in-chief for sending him to this backwater where nothing was happening! Wondering if it meant the end of his career as a senior foreign affairs correspondent, he morosely drained his glass.

“Want a refill?”

Looking up he saw a skinny, youngish-looking guy smiling broadly at him. “Hi, I’m Helmut,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m supposed to be your photographer.”

“Hi, I’m Mike. And a refill sounds good.”

“Be right back,” Helmut said and he hurried off to the bar.

“What kind of work do you normally do? Sports, general reporting, studio?” Murdoch asked over a fresh glass of beer.

“Whatever work I can get. I’m strictly freelance.” And when Murdoch raised an eyebrow, Helmut explained, “I was ‘society photographer’ with the Straits Times for a while. They sent me to photograph gowned and flower-hatted lard tubs at Government House tea parties.”

“Are you still with the Times?

“No, I must have set an all-time record there. I did not produce a single publishable ‘society’ photograph for weeks and in the end they sacked me.”

“And now?”

“Now I am earning a few dollars here and there by taking pictures of tourists. I hope you’re here to hire me for something better.”

“Doubt it; doubt it very much. Nobody seems to take things seriously here, there’s no sense of urgency. Not at all like the Dutch; I passed through Batavia and you should have seen the preparations there. They must be convinced something bad is gonna happen . . .”

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The rest of the story covers the events on December 7 and beyond, of smugness and the unpreparedness of the British forces; of the underestimation of a very dangerous and ruthless enemy…

Want to read it too? Buy your copy for only $ 0,99 from Amazon!
https://www.amazon.com/Pearl-Harbor-More-Stories-December-ebook/dp/B01M4L8HGT

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A Proud Author!

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Our Boxset was launched on November 1 and the reception has been heart warming! The editorial reviews are wonderful and very flattering. And they are matched by the customer reviews now coming in!
I am particularly proud of this reader comment:

Amazing how eight authors from different parts of the world and different perspectives could give the readers a recount of the impact of that horrendous day when Pearl Harbour was attacked.
The stories that appealed to me were:

“A Rude Awakening” by Robert Kingsley. I’ve read “The Java Gold” which I thoroughly enjoyed, and looking forward to reading more of his books. His style of writing creates a feeling of actually being there. A real page turner, fascinated by the plot, and wanting to know more.

“I am an American” by Robyn Hobousch. I was fascinated by the plot, and would be interested in reading more about the treatment of American Japanese.

“Allies After All” by Dianne Ascroft. Very well written and easy to read. Also fascinated by the plot and waiting to know the outcome of the relationship between the American and Irish acquaintances.

“The List” by Vanessa Couchman. Good plot and also well written. Easy to read and would be interested in reading more of her writings.

The above noted were my favourites, but I must say that they were all enjoyable reads which made this a good anthology experience.

 

Of Amazon … and more

It is always a tense moment when you launch a book  on Amazon.
How will it be received? How will they rank it? What reactions will we get?

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I must say the initial reactions were beyond our expectations. We were classified as the #2 Hot New Release and hit the top segment in various categories . Amazon now lists “Pearl Harbor and more” as the #1 Literature – Asia choice.
Not bad at all for what in fact is just an announcement.

The book will officially be released on November 1 so don’t forget to pre order! Here’s the link to the US site.
https://www.amazon.com/Pearl-Harbor-More-Stories-December-ebook/dp/B01M4L8HGT/

Back to work!

The holidays are over and it is high time to climb back into the saddle. Looking at the weather (cold wind and swirling leaves, a low grey sky and drizzly rain) I want to gallop back to the sun and the warmth but no, there’s work to be done.
Most important right now is the November 1 launch of our boxset!

bxs_t1Pearl Harbor and more is a collection of eight stories, each written by a different author, all set in different places, about different characters but all linked together by that same tremendous event: the attack on Pearl Harbor. Just to give you an idea what the stories are about: here are the contents:

Deadly Liberty – R.V. Doon
The List – Vanessa Couchman
Christmas Eve in the City of Dreams – Alexa Kang
Allies After All – Dianne Ascroft
Time to Go – Margaret Tanner
Turning Point – Marion Kummerow
I am an American – Robyn Hobusch Echols
A Rude Awakening – Robert A. Kingsley

As a truly intercontinental team, we worked hard to make the boxset an attractive and rewarding reading experience. But there’s more:  for a limited period we offer you the opportunity of receiving a FREE COPY (in mobi, e-pub or .pdf format) And if you liked what you read, we would appreciate to have your comments published as an Advance Reader Comment on Amazon, preferably as close to November 1 as possible!
Interested? Just contact me and I’ll send you the link!

 

Work in progress

This December, it will be 75 years since the Pacific War broke out.
A war that completely changed our world, as its aftermath swept the colonial empires of Britain, France and The Netherlands into history’s dustbin.
During a “textbook campaign”, the Japanese forces conquered the best part of South-East Asia and reached nearly all their planned goals. Their  ninety day campaign revealed the  Allies’ staggering level of un-preparedness and their almost suicidal underestimation of  Japanese capabilities and equipment.

My short story “A Rude Awakening” (to be included in the November boxset) highlights the beginning of the war, as seen through the eyes of several characters based in Singapore. The story describes how the complacent mood is rudely destroyed by the Japanese attacks and the desperate efforts to stem the tide with totally inadequate and insufficient means.
Here is a fragment, describing life in Singapore as jotted down by an American reporter:

“For two whole years now Europe has been at war, but the conflict barely has scratched the surface of life in Singapore where the British “Raj” still sedately rules. Under the swaying punkahs at Raffles Hotel, curry tiffin is served daily to the Gentlemen and Ladies of the Empire. Despite the broiling hot and saturatingly humid weather, they are all fully dressed in tropical suits, complete with starched shirts, collar and tie plus the odd Panama hat, while the ladies wear summer cotton dresses and large, wilting straw bonnets.”
He took a sip of his beer while he thought about his next lines.
“Whenever someone disturbs the complacent mood by voicing his concern about the warlike rumblings coming from far-off Japan, it is met with derisive laughter. Never will the Japanese be foolish enough to start a war, if only because of the great Royal Navy!”

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Raffles Hotel in Singapore, 1941. Despite the Japanese attacks, the hotel remained the social centre of gravity, where the British Colonial Society came to drink, dine and dance     (It was declared “Out of Bounds” to all military personnel under officer rank)

Or, summing it all up in the Boxset’s cover blurb:

Singapore, December 1941; the fortress sleeps, still believing its own tales of strength and invulnerability. A rigidly class based society throws garden parties and dines sedately, disregarding the slowly growing number of warning signals. Suddenly, the underestimated enemy ferociously attacks and the myth of invincibility is shattered forever.

The boxset will be released on Kindle.

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The shape of things to come:The boxset on a Kindle Reader