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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What You Don't Know

Right now, author Elka Ray is my guest. She's promoting her new release What You Don't Know and is doing a book tour - which you can follow, plus it allows you to win a 10$ GC from Amazon or Barnes&Noble. Each time you enter a comment, you have a chance to win. Use this link to place your comment:

I've asked Elka to answer some questons about this publication - a collection of suspense-crime short stories. Here they are, along with her answers:

Why do you place the action in far-away places? 

I set my fiction in places I know well that evoke strong feelings. I spent my earliest years in Africa and the bulk of my childhood in Canada with frequent trips to Europe and the UK. For the past two decades, I’ve been based in Vietnam. The stories in my latest book, What You Don’t Know: Ten Tales of Obsession, Mystery and Murder in Southeast Asia, are all set in Southeast Asia, a region I find endlessly fascinating.

Do you like to travel a lot? 

As well as writing fiction, I work as a magazine editor and travel writer. Now that I have kids, I travel less - and less adventurously - than I used to. Since I live in a small village by the beach in Central Vietnam, now and then I need a dose of urban life, which means a short flight to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore. 

Do your memories of such travels have a response in your writing?

Maybe on account of my nomadic childhood, I feel very attached to places. I have strong and often irrational feelings about the places I visit - for instance locales that others consider beautiful might strike me as ominous. In retrospect, I’m often right - a riot was brewing, a coup was imminent, a horrible crime took place nearby… I believe that places, as well as people, give off good and bad energies. 

Some places I go inspire stories, that little twinge of unease leading to a “what if”.  An example from this collection would be the story “Burning Bright”, which is set on Cambodia’s Bokor Hill, home to a French colonial casino in the 1930s and a Khmer Rouge base from the 1970s through 1990s. When I visited a decade back, it was utterly desolate - a few burned-out ruins on a windswept plateau. This haunted setting inspired a story about a bereaved woman traveling with a husband whose many betrayals have pushed her to the point of doing something unthinkable.

More about What You Don't Know:


An American lawyer dreams of killing his trophy wife in Thailand. A Vietnamese soldier goes mad in a haunted forest. A bereaved mother's trip to Cambodia ends in tragedy - or does it?  Take a spine-tingling journey from the jungles of Sumatra through Bangkok's seedy bars to the seemingly sedate streets of Singapore. Your traveling companions are a slew of dark emotions - fear, grief, jealousy, greed, lust and revenge. And your destination?  With flashes of black humor and hard-to-forget characters, these ten stories shine light into the dark corners of Southeast Asia.


It’s the quality of light that I notice first, for I have broken free of the foliage and reached the river. Although it's dark, it is slightly less dark than it was under the tree canopy. I turn and see the darker shadow of our boat. The baby’s cries seem to have ceased. Relief floods over me.

I wade through the shallows, stumbling with fatigue. The rocks are loose and slippery. 

The boat is as it was when I left, still listing to one side, a rope tying it to a thick branch. I stagger towards it. I am about ten feet from the boat when I trip, my foot striking something hard yet yielding. In my panic, I fall forward, my hand touching something smooth and slippery.

It takes a moment to register, and even when I realize what it is, my mind rejects it. That cannot be Chau’s head bobbing with the current. It cannot be his hair brushing against my arms, or his bulging eyes staring up at me. 

My voice seems to have left me.

Author bio and links

At the age of eleven, Elka Ray co-founded the Double Trouble Detective Agency. She’s been on the lookout for mysteries ever since. Elka’s latest book, “What You Don’t Know: Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia”, takes readers on a darkly suspenseful tour of the Far East. Her first novel, a fast-paced romantic adventure titled “Hanoi Jane”, was published by Marshall Cavendish in English and DT Books in Vietnamese. Elka’s next novel, the thriller “Saigon Dark”, will come out with Crimewave Press in November 2016. Elka is also the author and illustrator of a popular series of bilingual kids’ picture books about Vietnam.
Elka divides her time between Hoi An in Central Vietnam and Canada’s scenic Vancouver Island. When she’s not writing, drawing or reading she’s in - or near -the ocean.

Contact: Email Elka at
Agent: Elka is represented by Amy Tipton at Signature Literary Agency
Elka Ray’s website:
Elka Ray Facebook Author Page:
Elka Ray on Twitter:
Elka Ray on Goodreads:
Amazon buy link:


  1. I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!

  2. Congrats on the tour, the book looks great and thanks for the chance to win.

  3. Thanks Nikolina, Lisa & Goddess Fish! Any of you - or other readers - believe in ghosts or have had inexplicable/supernatural experiences?

    1. I did not believe in ghosts until two years ago. We were visiting a castle in Ireland and there I felt the presence of... something. When we came home, I occasionally saw a dwarflike figure duck behind a cupboard. Since then the ghosts moves things in our house. According to the guide in Ireland, Puck (the ghost of the court dwarf) attached himself to a family with long standing roots. Since the last owner of the castle died in 1980, he must have felt lonely and now we've got him. No kidding! Our ancestry can be traced back to Robrecht Van Bethune, Count of Flanders in the 13th century. We descend from his bastard son by a scullery maid.
      And my sister can predict when someone in our close family is going to die (not such a nice gift). As long as she doesn't mention anything, I assume my time hasn't come yet.

  4. Nickie F - greetings from Vietnam & many many thanks for hosting! Elka

    1. It's my pleasure to have you here, Elka.

  5. I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.

  6. This sounds like a book I'll enjoy reading - thanks for sharing the excerpt :)

  7. Enjoyed the interview sounds like a great book!

  8. Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!