Colin Cotterill is the author of Grandad, there’s a head on the beach – a detective story set in the South of Thailand. This novel is on our Teen Book Shortlist.
What’s your favourite Thai food? I’ve always had a weakness for sticky rice and lahp. I like the way it sits in your stomach for several days like bricks. It always reminds me of Laos even the peculiar version of it they make down here on the Thai Gulf.
How did you choose the main character, and how similar are the events in the book to anything that has happened in your own life? My ex-wife was an educated city girl who left her element to come and live in a very rural community. It was fascinating to watch her culture shocks and interpret them for the book. The Jimm series is set where I live and although the crimes may not exist here (apart from the incidents with the Burmese fishermen which are sadlytrue) it’s pretty much my experiences with the environment and the neighbours.
What can young people learn about Thailand from reading your book? It’s often a problem to use fiction to teach anything to children apart from how to write fiction. We make a lot of this stuff up and you have to be canny enough to work out what’s real and what’s not. In the Jimm books however I’m able to take on contemporary issues. In the third book it will be the misleading advertizing of the milk companies. So there’s a lot of follow-up to be done.
Did you do any research for your story, and if so how did you go about it? It’s not a coincidence that I write about where I live which really cuts down on research time. I just jump on my bicycle and go ask the people who know the answers. I’ve interviewed most of my neighbours and officials. Still a lot of good stories left untold.
You can find out more about Colin Cotterill and his books (he’s also written another series set in Laos) on his website,