Michele’s Seamless Fishnets

I’m referring to Michele E. Northwood’s “seamless” smooth-reading Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea It was a great, riveting read that compelled me to give it a five-star rating (please see last week’s review).  I’d gotten so involved in the three women’s lives and mis-adventures, I found myself wondering what transpired after they’d returned home.

I contacted Michele and asked if she’d be interested in doing an interview—she was!  If you’ve not yet read Fishnets, please do; you won’t regret it.  And if you have and you’re curious to find out more . . . here you go, my friends . . .

An obvious question: do you still keep in touch with anyone from the Fishnet days?  If so, who?  Do you reminisce?  Or do you just not go there?

I’m still in touch with Louise via Facebook.  Occasionally, we share photos and reminisce, but as I mentioned at the end of my book, the memory fades and we tend to obliterate the bad experiences and remember the good ones.  Although it’s impossible to forget some of the experiences, we usually talk about funny or pleasant times and ignore the negatives.  Occasionally, the name of our agent pops up, but I think time mellows a person and I hold no malice towards him.  

When did you begin writing the book?  What served as the “trigger” to write it?

To answer that question, I have to go back to my time in Korea.  I knew from the first couple of days being in that country that we were living through a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I kept a detailed diary of every single day.  I came across the two notebooks I had filled a couple of years ago, and when I sat down to read them again, I realised that it would make an interesting book.  I thought that the uniqueness of the situation would be eye-opening, not only for other dancers but for readers interested in travel and the Far East, as well as appealing to anyone with a curiosity to discover the not-so-idyllic truth behind a dancer’s life.

It took me over a year to write the book and it was released in 2019.

 What were your takeaways from the experience?  Any regrets?  Lessons learned?

I have no regrets about doing the contract.  Although I went through some unpleasant experiences, the three of us dealt with each episode with a lot of laughter, something that I also wanted to get across in the book.  It wasn’t all doom and gloom; we had some good times too.

The experience made me mature and become a much stronger person.  I was an extremely naïve twenty-year-old who was thrown into a seedy world that I was ill-equipped to deal with.  I soon realised the need to stand up for myself if I hoped to see this contract through to the end.  But I was lucky to have Louise as my friend, as she was much more worldly-wise and mothered me for the first few months of the contract.

Some readers have asked me why I didn’t just go home.  This would have been impossible.  I was on the other side of the world at a time when cheap airfares were nonexistent and a one-way ticket back to the UK was eight hundred pounds.  This was a huge amount of money for me at that time, and with our intermittent salary being literally drip-fed to us by our agent, the thought of saving up enough money to buy a ticket home was an insurmountable task.

I think we were all committed to seeing the contract through, regardless of the circumstances. As I said earlier, in between the bad experiences, there were some good times too. These positive experiences kept us all going.

I have no regrets about my time there, I think I grew as a person, particularly mentally, and I learnt to accept that throughout life there is always a Ying and a Yang. We all experience good and bad events throughout our lives and we have to deal with whatever life throws our way.    

That’s a great, sage outlook.  What happened after?  How did the experience affect you?

Well, believe it or not, I went on my next contract with the same agent!  This time I travelled to the island of Hokkaido in Japan!   (In fact, I’ve just released the second book in the Fishnets series. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Fishnets+and+Fire-eating&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

I guess I felt that if I could cope with Korea, then Japan couldn’t be any worse.  Japan was a totally different experience.  I enjoyed the contract, but once again I experienced some daunting experiences along with a lot of laughter and weird experiences.  To whet your appetite, here is the blurb from the new book:

MichelleNewBookabcThis amusing, true story tells the tale of four young, professional dancers who travel to the island of Hokkaido, an area steeped in mystery, myths and legendary beasts.  When the quartet discovers that they are living next door to an ancient Japanese Indian tribe, they drunkenly decide to conduct a Ouija board session and, from that night onwards, things never seem quite the same again.  Not knowing, understanding or really appreciating the ancient Japanese traditions, culture or etiquette, the quartet finds themselves in some hilarious situations as well as living through some shocking real-life experiences.  They stumble their way around massage parlours and maternity hospitals, museums and temples, learning the intricacies of the hot baths and the Japanese green tea ritual.

The girls are plunged into a world of secrets and mysteries where nothing appears to be what it seems.  People vanish without a trace, and there is the strange disappearance of a large amount of money. What is the big secret on the island?  Who is in control?  Will the girls manage to keep themselves safe?  And will they ever uncover the truth behind these mysteries that seem to enshroud them all?

Sounds intriguing!  You’ve certainly sold me; I can’t wait to read it.   . . . Have you returned to Korea since?

No, I have never returned. I sometimes imagine going there out of curiosity, to see how it must have changed since 1989.  It would be interesting to visit the same old haunts, but as I have a terrible sense of direction, I´d probably never find them again!

How did your sister’s time in Korea go?

As I mentioned in the book, she seemed to have hit the jackpot compared to me.  Her agent seemed attentive to the trio and their accommodation was almost palatial compared to our digs.  However, her relationship with her agent also turned sour.  He became abusive towards the girls and my sister eventually left, leaving the two other girls she was contracted with to work as a duet.  She started modelling in Korea which was more lucrative and on her return to the UK, she never danced again.

Good for her; a happy ending, indeed.

Thanks so much, Michele, for sharing this captivating insight into yourself and your fantastic journey.   You’ve certainly piqued my interest and I’ll be looking for Book #2!

A few more fascinating facts about Michele—she:

◊  was not only a dancer, but a magician and fire-eater who toured the world for 20+ years in theatre, musicals and circus    ◊  went back to school upon retiring from the entertainment world and now has a First Class Honours degree in Modern languages, (English and Spanish)    ◊  has been in the Guinness Book of Records, during her years in entertainment for being part of the world’s largest Human mobile while working for the circus of horrors as their first “Girl inside a bottle” (wow!)    ◊  rubbed shoulders with Sting, Chris de Burgh, David Copperfield, Claudia Schiffer and Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gees    ◊  worked as a knife throwers assistant; assisted a midget in his balancing act; and also taken part in the finale of a Scorpions’ concert.

Michele currently lives in Spain with her Spanish husband, Randy, two dogs and two cats, and is an English teacher, preparing students for the prestigious Cambridge English examinations.

A great concern of Michele’s is climate change, the abundance of plastic pollution, and hates the way man unkindly treats the other species that inhabit this beautiful planet, which we are slowly destroying.   She loves living in the countryside with views of the sea and likes nothing better than to sit on the terrace at the end of the day, looking up at the stars and contemplating.

She can be contacted/followed at:

https://www.facebook.com/michele.e.northwoodauthor

Twitter : @northwood_e

Pinterest board: michele e. northwood pinterest.es https://www.pinterest.es/nextchapterpub/pinterest-board-michele-e-northwood/

Books by Michele:

Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea (a true story)

Fishnets and Fire-eating: A Dancer’s True Story in Japan

The Blood Red Retreat (coming soon)

The Circus Affair

Review: Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea by Michele E. Northwood

I’ve embarked on a reading frenzy these days (won’t last much longer, but it’s fun)!

Michele E. Northwood’s Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea has received great reviews—for obvious reasons.  It’s a fascinating real-life tale.  Usually, I find autobiographical accounts rather flat and dry, but Michele’s flows smoothly, like a gently rippling late-spring stream.  It’s entertaining, engaging, a can’t-put-down read.

Here’s a bit from the Amazon blurb:

Set in 1989, a year after the Olympic Games in South Korea, this is the true story of Michele, a young dancer, whose naïve dream of working in the Far East quickly turns into a nightmare. She finds herself in a host of situations for which she is ill-equipped. Dancing her way across Korea with Louise and Sharon, she is—among other things—propositioned by the Mafia, turned away by the British Embassy, caught in a student riot, and taken to Korean brothels. Both shocking and humorous, this Double Award Winning Memoir takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you follow the life of a timid young girl caught in a male-orientated world of alcohol, sex and seedy nightclubs.

If that doesn’t pull you right in to Michele’s well chronicled story, nothing will.  This last paragraph of the first chapter makes for foreshadowing . . . as, indeed, fate does take its course.  

This struck me as a bit odd and rather deceptive, but I did not voice my opinion. The deed was done. I had signed the paperwork, so all I could do was let fate take its course.

From the get-go, you’re compelled to accompany the threesome on their crazy journey.  

I equated our situation to how animals must feel when loaded into a cattle truck heading for slaughter. I could not help but feel as though we were heading for the same fate – comparatively speaking. What did destiny have in store for us now?

Our author has a disarming narrative manner; description, characters, and dialogue are convincingly presented.  It’s easy to visualize the various venues (like dim or dirty bars with daft or dangerous customers), appreciate the fluctuating feelings as Michele and her colleagues interact with sordid sorts, and hear the emotions as they discuss dilemmas and incidents. 

WPFishnetstwitterDOTcomAs the dancing trio travel around the country, they deal with dubious agents and managers, meet some pervy people, and encounter lascivious males.  Work is often an “audition” and money is tight (if at all).  Food is sometimes scarce and hotel rooms are rat- and insect-infested.  You know things will go from bad to worse before they get better—and there are moments where you wonder if they truly will improve—but you hang in, needing to learn what transpires.

Funny moments intersperse the drama; Michele, Sharon, and Louise share humorous moments and situations just as they share grim ones.  It takes strength—perseverance and persistence—to contend with what they did.  Hats off to them!

The editor in me usually deducts a half point or so when there are typos or the like; but in this case, I so enjoyed Fishnets, I have to give it a 5 out of 5. 

Rating:  savesavesavesavesave

Please check out Michele at:

https://www.facebook.com/michele.e.northwoodauthor

https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/michele-e-northwood

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18794280.Michele_E_Northwood

By the By . . . By Gaslight

It’s rare that I get to pick up a book just for the pleasure of reading—what little novel-related “me” time I have is devoted to reviews for authors I’ve come to know through Next Chapter or social media.

When I picked up By Gaslight (lying on a friend’s coffee table) and read the back flap, I had to borrow it.  I was intrigued.  Very.

LONDON, 1885.  In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Pinkerton, the son of a famous detective, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows.  Adam Foole, haunted by a love affair ten years gone, has returned to London in search of his lost beloved.  But when these two are drawn together in their search for answers, what follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and séance halls.

How could you not want to read Steven Price’s thriller?  Obviously others were of the same mind, because the book (published by McClelland & Stewart, 2016) was a Canadian National Bestseller and on the prestigious Giller Prize Longlist.

Price has an enviable way with description—he writes eloquently, evoking vivid images.

It was a wide tunnel high and well ventilated and the waters moved at a steady drift, muscling past, scraping the filth and detritus of a world city against its bed.

(Can’t you just feel the layers of rubbish and smell the wretched stench of waste?)

This is far from a review, simply a suggestion: if you’re search for a good [long] riveting read, this book is for you.  The one thing that takes getting used to: no quotation marks denoting dialogue.  It’s not unheard of . . . but it is . . . weird.

Regardless, as the Toronto Star called it, it is a darkly feverish page-turner . . . or, even better, as Anakana Schofield advised, a poetic, persuasive pea-souper.  Love it!

Day Five, Still Alive!

Hi there!  This is Xav.  My mom posted yesterday and when I heard what she’d done, I begged my private-eye friends to let me do it, too!

As she told you, I had a pretty serious drug problem . . . and I wasn’t even eighteen.  What I was, actually, was a mess.  You’ve probably read and heard enough about the ugly world of drug addiction, so I don’t need to repeat what you already know.  But let me tell you, it’s not a place you ever want to find yourself!

On a sweeter note, it’s the fifth and final day of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  You can purchase it for .99 cents.  You can’t even buy a burger for that.  I say, go for it!

Besides my story, there are a few murders, dangerous drug dealers, and ornery gang members who don’t like being questioned by JJ, Rey and Linda.  Guess I wouldn’t either, if I didn’t want to end up in jail.  But they stick with it—even nearly get themselves killed—and finally figure it all out.  How cool is that?

Check us out at . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

Day Four, Can You Take One More?

Promo post, that is.  It’s Linda and I’m here to introduce a lovely lady Honey Konani, the mother of teenaged Xavier (or Xav, as he prefers).  She actually called JJ to ask if she might have the honors.  JJ—Rey and I—were happy to oblige.  Over to you, Honey . . .

Hi.  I’ve never done this before, so please bear with me.  I met the three private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency when JJ brought home Xavier after a bad bout with drugs.  

Before I get into that, please note that it is Day 4 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  You can purchase it for .99 cents—today through November 17.

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that this first official case has the three women attempting to discover the secret of the young and pretty wife of a rich, elderly gentleman.  Sadly, she’s found murdered in the Pacific.  In the quest to find the killer, they happen upon drug dealers, gang members . . . and Xavier, in a dark dank alley.

Regrettably, I’d grown accustomed to his “flights of freedom”, as I called them. Oh, I fretted as any mother would, but I no longer experienced hysterics or despair as I had the first couple of times he’d ventured off (“staying with a friend”, “sailing with a school chum”, “visiting a cousin on Big Island”). My belief in God kept me sane and calm, and hopeful that my son would one day see the light and stop doing drugs. Yes, I’d known for a while, but hadn’t voiced it, not to him, not to my daughter, not even to myself. To do so would have meant acknowledging a bleak truth.

Thanks to these three women, Xavier eventually turned his life around; he’s still clean and seeing life with fresh eyes.  I’ll be eternally grateful to them.

You can check out Hula here . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

Day Three . . . with Three . . .

. . . Lovely ladies who are professional P.I.s on Oahu.  Hey, it’s Rey—welcome to Day 3 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  For .99 cents—today through November 17—you can read how the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio (that’s us, those lovely ladies, in case there was any doubt) solved our first case.

It all started off pretty simple: find out what William Pierponce Howell’s young pretty wife, Carmie, was up to.  He was thinking “affair”; we were thinking the same.  But then we found her floating along the shores of a quiet beach, and it wasn’t because she couldn’t swim.

It turned out there was something suspect in her past . . . as there was in hubby’s and a few other folks’ history.  This led us into the weird world of gangs, drug dealers, and criminal types.

If you’d like to learn how we solved this challenging—dangerous—case (and nearly ended up like poor Carmie), please check us out.

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

Aloha all.

Day Two, Yeah, Me Too

So you’ve got Cash here.  Yeah, JJ talked me into posting about the promo today (Linda wheedled and Rey, as is her way, threatened to rearrange body parts).  Man.

Anyway, here goes . . .

. . . It’s Day 2 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  For .99 cents—today through November 17—you can read how JJ and her colleagues from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency solved their first case . . . and how JJ and I first met (in a dive where drug dealers and felon types liked to call home).

It all started when the threesome had to discover the “secret” of a rich old coot’s dishy wife.  Unfortunately, they found her swimming in the Pacific.  As they determined to find out who the killer was—and more bodies dropped—they encountered the aforementioned drug dealers, druggies, and gang members.  And, no surprise, none of the nefarious offenders liked being pursued, much less questioned.

Here’s a little taste (no one can tell it better than my hon, JJ) . . .

“Howzit? Mind if I sit?”

Cash stood a good 6’2” and was more muscular up close, like one of those extreme wrestlers.

I motioned one of the ladder-back chairs across from me. It creaked when he sat.

“I’ve never seen you in here before. I’d remember.”

“That’s not an overly original pick-up line . . . Cash.”

“I wasn’t aiming for a pick-up,” he replied. “And Cash is the name. My mom loved Johnny Cash. I got the name Cash because my brother, born two years before me, got Johnny.” Jade green eyes seemed to see beyond that which they viewed. “You don’t look like you belong here.”

“Why? Not enough make-up? Or maybe I’m not rowdy or brassy enough?” I asked with a cynical smile, feeling oddly catty. Malevolence was something I experienced only when sleep-deprived.

“Not young enough.”

My flat response was “mahalo”. Thank you.

“It’s more of a guy place and the women that do come are generally not in their late twenties and above.”

I took a sip of the flat beer in the mug. Ugh. “I’ll make sure to apply for Social Security on Monday.”

His laughter had a rich timber, like a temple bell.

“You don’t exactly look like you belong here, either.”

“Why’s that?”

I met his probing gaze. “Besides the fact that the preferred color for members of the male persuasion in here is black, you look more like someone who’d be sipping martinis while sitting in a jazz lounge or an oceanside bar. You don’t have that tough-ass attitude most of the males here have.”

“I’m very tough. Trust me.” His smile was dark and for the briefest second, I sensed a no-nonsense-or-crap-accepted side.

To be honest, I was quite surprised the three of them didn’t end up with a knife in the neck or a bullet in the brain (I’ve been around) but very happy with the outcome: the successful—if not bizarre—culmination of the case.

Given I’m very fond of JJ, I’d appreciate you checking out how they performed as first-time private eyes.  Guaranteed: you’ll find the tumultuous trip quite entertaining.

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

 

Day One, What Fun (Again!)

Welcome to Day 1 of the Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? promotion.  For a mere .99 cents—today through November 17—you can read how the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency did during our first official private-eye case! 

. . . All we have to do is uncover the “secret” of an elderly millionaire’s pretty young wife—an affair.  There’s a twist, though: trophy wife is found murdered on the rocky shores of an off-the-beaten-track  Oahu beach.  And there’s a secret all right, one of many in fact—and they don’t all belong to the deceased woman.  Who of the curious cast of characters is the murderer?  As JJ, Rey and I try to fit puzzle pieces together, we stumble across more bodies … and a few unscrupulous sorts who don’t like us poking our noses in their business. 

While this new set of quirky personalities proves quite taxing, we have enough faith in our developing talents to persevere and unscramble clues.  It’s the perfect opportunity for us to prove we made a wise choice in becoming bona-fide detectives. 

If you’d like to come along on the zany but fun roller-coaster ride, please check u out at . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Hula-Hattie-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEEBNOS

(The Boss requests—humbly and happily—if you had a moment or three, perhaps you might be willing to do a review?)

Day Five, One More High-Five

Hey, it’s Rey again!

Welcome to Day 5 of The Connecticut Corpse Caper promotion. It’s FREE one last day—today.

Caper set the stage (in more ways than one) for JJ, Linda and me becoming official private eyes.  We solved a murder (a few, actually) during a crazy week at our Aunt Mat’s old, super creepy mansion!

We actually had to stay there a week to collect on an inheritance.  Almost from the moment we got there, bodies started dropping.  Strange sounds flowed through walls and dark hallways, and we traveled along a few long damp passageways.  It was a puzzler, trying to figure out who the killer was.  And, man, did we uncover a few bizarre “secrets” along the way.

Maybe you’d like to check out our escapades (as JJ’s former boy-toy called them)?  We’d love it if you did.

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&qid=1604758403&refinements=p_27%3ATyler+Colins&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

Day Four, Just Two More

Hey, it’s Rey!

Welcome to Day 4 of The Connecticut Corpse Caper promotion; only two more. It’s FREE from Nov 8 – 12 (sounds like a steal to me).

Caper gave JJ, Linda and me a taste of what being a detective was all about.  Okay, so we were more like Nancy Drews—pretty amateur sleuths—but we eventually solved the caper, er, case.

My cousin JJ and I had to stay at Aunt Mat’s huge “haunted” house for a week to collect on an inheritance (Linda was along for the ride).  From the get-go, bodies started dropping.  Weird sounds flowed through walls and long, dark passageways became part of the norm.  It was quite the challenge, determining who the perp was.  Can’t share that with you, though, sorry.  You’ll have to read Caper to find out.  But I will share this: you’ll be surprised.  He-he.

If I’ve tweaked your interest, check out . . .

https://www.amazon.ca/Connecticut-Corpse-Triple-Threat-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KEDWHMG/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&qid=1604758403&refinements=p_27%3ATyler+Colins&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

See you again on Day 5!