Behind The Smile
The story of Lek,
a bar girl in Pattaya.
The new novel
by Owen Jones.
Paperback & Kindle with
free p&p in many cases.
Welcome to an Interview with… Owen Jones.
Author of: “Behind The Smile”
A brief synopsis:
“Behind The Smile” is the story of Lek, a bar girl in Pattaya.
Lek was born the eldest child of four in a typical rice farming family. She did not expect to do anything any different from the other girls in her class in the northern rice belt of Thailand.
Typically that would be: work in the fields for a few years; have a few babies; give them to mum to take care of and get back to work until her kids had their own children and it would be her turn to stop working to take care of them.
One day a catastrophe occurred out of the blue – her father died young and with huge debts that the family knew nothing about. Lek was twenty and she was the only one who could prevent foreclosure. However, the only way she knew was to go to work in her cousin’s bar in Pattaya.
She went as a waitress-cum-cashier, but when she realised that she was pregnant by her worthless, estranged husband, things had to change. She had the baby, gave it to her mother to lookafter and went back to work. However, now she needed real money to provide a better life for her child and to make up for spending its whole youth 500 miles away. She drifted into the tourist sex industry.
The book relates some of her ‘adventures’, her dreams and nightmares and her ‘modus operandi’. It tries to show, from Lek’s point of view, what it really is like to be a Thai bar girl – the hopes and frustrations, the hopes and the let-downs, the hopes and the lies and deceit that are part of her every day life.
One day she meets a man she likes and he likes her too. Nothing new there, it had happened hundreds of times before, but she feels that it is different this time. They have a wonderful four weeks together and then he goes home – as they all had, leaving more promises and more hopes.
This one returns, but real life with a real boyfriend is not as easy as she had dreamed it would be. They go through good and bad times, but will they stay together and for how long?
After all she has been through, will she be able to be a regular girlfriend or even a wife again? Will she ever really be able to trust a man enough again either? Or would she be better off giving up her dreams and carrying on working in the bar?
Lek begins to find out that getting what you wish for is not always as good as you thought it would be.
What made you decide to write this book?
I used to go to one bar in Pattaya a lot and the girls there began to trust me.
They told me stories of their exploits and I helped them out with their English and their love letters.
I soon saw a contrast between what many ex-pats said about the girls and how they behaved towards me and I thought that the discrepancy should be recorded. Not all the girls are angels by any means – there are some really hard-faced pros there - but in my experience, most of them are just ordinary, inexperienced, country girls.
They go their fairly naive about foreigners, but don’t stay that way for long.
They learn quickly.
It just depends who they learn from, I suppose.
Where did the title come from?
Thailand is known internationally as the Land of Smiles, as Wales is know as the Land of Song.
Pattaya is one of the four main destinations for ‘working girls’ and is known locally often as ‘Sin City’.
The girls have to wear a smile and ‘forget’ their troubles while they are working, but they can’t all always forget their families, children and friends who are usually hundreds of kilometres away back in the village.
Do you always write in this genre?
This is my first novel, but I did collate some of my father’s papers into a book called ‘The Eternal Plan – Revealed’.
If you ruled the World what would be the first thing you’d banish?
Having been born in the UK and living in Thailand, I would have to say snobbery and class distinction, which brings on privilege based on birth.
It really gets my goat to see someone behaving badly just because his or her parents have money.
I don’t think I’d have time to change much though, because they’d assassinate me PDQ.
( I don’t know. Maybe you’d find that even those with privileges get annoyed at the idiots who can’t behave with or without money).
What was your inspiration to write and when did you start?
I have travelled a lot and so I have always written letters home, but I did not think of writing a book until I met the girls in Pattaya.
That was eight years ago.
I started writing very soon after, but it was only note-taking really.
Then I came to live in a remote Thai village where only my wife speaks English (except me) and I started writing.
I ha a few long periods off when I was frightened to write what I wanted to, so it took me six years to finish the book.
What was your destination to publishing? ie are you self published.
I wasted the whole of 2011 looking for a traditional publisher, because I did not know any better.
I had read that, according to etiquette, an author must approach one publisher and await a reply, which ‘can take three months’.
I did that and nothing.
After four months, they said they couldn’t use it.
OK, I tried three more and gave up.
However, I had promised to collate a book for my Dad and I wanted to do it for his birthday on Feb 21st, so I had to get a move on.
I found self-publishing and did that.
Then I went back to my own book and did the same.
Share with the readers one little known fact about yourself.
I, like most people, say things like: ‘Oh, what a coincidence!’, but I don’t believe in coincidence at all.
I believe that everything is preordained, but by oneself.
You choose your parents, so that you are born into the best environment to learn the lessons that you want to learn.
Just like going to university.
And when the course is over, you go home and decide what you want to do next.
In other words, there is no point in complaining about your lot, because you chose it.
(Which makes removing class privilege impossible
(Hung by your own petard? LOL)
Do you have a website to share?
I have 140 websites, which is how my need to write first manifested itself, but my favourite one at the moment is:
Any links to the book/books
Please feel free to share an excerpt.
I am not against giving an except, but I would not know which one to give!
Several parts of the book are so different (I think that was a problem with finding a publisher).
I would rather that you are handed a random section (fate again), which Amazon and Smashwords will take care of for you.