Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Notes from an intern

While I was in college a publisher or someone from a publishing house would come in every Friday afternoon to talk to the class about the wonderful world of publishing they worked in. It can’t be denied that some of them could be pretty negative about the industry. The main complaints were the small salaries and some difficulties in getting a job. People looking for an internship in a Publishing House can be particularly concerned with these issues.

When you here horror stories of trying to make it in publishing it can really put you off. After getting a degree and maybe even a Master’s you would expect to get a good job that paid reasonable well. However if publishing is what you want to do you have to except that this nice salary may not happen for a little longer. In publishing, like with most industries, you need experience before you can get a job. As an intern you may not be getting paid much or even at all but the experienced gained will be invaluable.

I have learnt more about publishing in three days as an intern than I did in a year of study. College can give you an idea or overview of how things work but until you are actually working your way through a huge pile of submissions or laying out a 300 page book yourself that you really see how things work. The more work you put in the more value you will get out of what you are doing.

Deciding to embark on a career in publishing can be a difficult decision to make. You are basically agreeing to work very hard for very little money. However once you start down the path of publishing, have decided you are dedicated to the industry and find a good internship I don’t think there can be any turning back. - Niamh Gargan, Maverick House Intern

The competition is now closed. Congratulations to our final winners, Anthony and Rosa Penny, from Queensland, Australia.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

World Bank watch dogs sit and watch the wheels of corruption turn

Enter the competition at the end of this blog entry!

On 23rd December 2000, the secret police of the corrupt Communist Laos Government kidnapped Kerry Danes and took him to an undisclosed location in the nation's capital. Under Australian Embassy instructions, Kay Danes attempted to leave Laos with the couple's two youngest children, only to be intercepted at the Thai border.

Kerry and Kay Danes were former executive employees to one of Britains leading Security companies - Jardine Securicor. Kerry Danes, a highly decorated SAS soldier, was appointed Managing Director of Lao Securicor in 1999, a start up Security Company of the UK giant operating in the communist landlocked country of Laos.

Kerry and Kay Danes were centred in a dispute between their client, Gem Mining Laos, a US$2 billion dollar sapphire concession and the Laos Government. Despite intense interrogations, the Danes refused to make false statements that would otherwise implicate Gem Mining in unlawful activity, and result in its nationalisation. As a result, the Danes were detained in a prison of exceptionally primitive, squalid conditions in rural Laos for almost a year. They endured torture and ill-treatment. Their government deemed them hostages.

The Australian Ambassador to Laos, H.E. Jonathan Thwaites added “Let’s be clear about the Danes, the Australian Government will not let this matter rest until we have what we want, the Danes release. They are innocent. They have been caught up in power plays.”

Gem Mining Lao suffered mass destruction at the hands of the Laos Government, wilful destruction of property and blatant disregard for the assets and integrity of Foreign Investors. The illegal nationalisation of one of the world’s richest sapphire deposits almost brought the tiny landlocked country to its knees. Gem Mining Lao Directors were sentenced 20 years in absentia and fined US$30 million dollars by the Laos government for allegedly stealing their own assets.

Kerry and Kay Danes suffered immense injustices and trauma that tested their resolve both professionally as security managers, and emotionally, as husband and wife. Their story became one of the highest profiled cases in Australia at the time, featuring on every news channel until their release on November 9, 2001. Their plight highlighted the deceit of a country that pledged itself to upholding United Nations mandates and laws that were supposed to protect foreigners and investors but failed.

Now, six years on, Kerry and Kay Danes are once again enduring public humiliation at the hands of the Laos Government that is using their unlawful conviction as a smoke screen to its continued underhandedness. In a country steeped in corruption, the illegally nationalised Gem Mining Laos concession is being floated to the international market, at far less a price [US$5 million dollars] then what it was reportedly worth [US$2 billion]. Smell a rat?

The wheel has once again come full circle and one has to wonder how many more foreign investors will suffer at the hands of this regime? Where is the accountability from the so called watch dogs of corruption, the World Bank and the International community in Laos, who are fully privy to evidence supplied to them of torture of foreigners and investors caught in the snare of greedy Laotian officials! - Kay Danes, author of Nightmare in Laos.

Laos Government float GML to foreign market

Lao Securicor Security Audit Report [Shows mass destruction of Gem Mining]

Congratulations to the winner of our previous competition, Karen Araujo from Canada!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

An empty seat

Enter our competition at the bottom of this blog entry!

I’d had terrible dreams weeks before the launch of my book in Bangkok. I tossed and turned as I imagined every possible thing that could go wrong like turning up at the wrong place, on the wrong date, forgetting to invite people and then to have the few guests who did come, walk out on me. Thankfully it was a pleasant relief that none of those things actually happened on the big day.
60 people attended the launch, including a former executioner, a former prisoner, prison visitors, various volunteers, media folk, friends and interested expatriates. It was a highly meaningful time with sharing some thought provoking ideas concerning penal reform and activities to make the world a better place.
Sadly there was a very important person missing from our forum and it was not due to my forgetting to invite him either. Seri served over 20-years in Bangkwang; he lives like me in Nonthaburi, where he runs his newsstand. I see him almost daily; we share a common bond as well as a joke or drink. He flirts and I dance around his invitations for a ride on his new motorbike all the while encouraging him about his new life.
He was to be one of my guests of honor, one of the ones without whom there would be no book or proof that sometimes folk do actually make it out of the Big Tiger. He accepted my invitation willingly; he too wanted to have his say. But sadly he was dying. He did not make it as he had lost one of his lungs due to cancer, most likely caused by forced labor working for years in dusty, chemically polluted factories within the prison. He was just too weak to leave his bed. I have lost him, he has not returned to his newsstand and I fear the worst.
One consolation is that the book launch was more than a promotion of my book, or even of the executioners, but it became a panel and opportunity to bring out truths and hopes for change so that folk like Seri will not have to suffer in the future. Even the high-ranking authorities attending joined us in challenging the legal system and futility of the long sentences. The organizers were pleasantly surprised by the responses and I felt that everyone left stimulated and challenged, and secretly I hope that Seri is at peace feeling pleased that he was adequately defended. The launch signaled a rallying of additional voices that will defend the likes of Seri I pray! - Susan Aldous, author of The Angel of Bang Kwang Prison

Pictures by Virginia McCrae

Maverick House will be giving away 5 books from our backlist to one lucky reader. The answers to the following question can be found on . A winner will be drawn from all correct entries.

Question: What is the title of Susan Aldous' memoirs?

Send your answer along with your postal address to:

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The smiling temptress

Enter our competition at the end of this blog entry!

One of the things I learned early on in my career as Art Detective with the FBI is that there are good reasons why art theft and forgery is such a bullish growth industry. The soaring value of classic paintings has combined with a comparatively minuscule legal risk to create a landscape that has become every criminal’s dream job. With the auction price of a single Picasso topping $100 million in 2004, the sky is now the limit in this crazy, highly specialised industry. Yet the legal statutes haven’t remotely kept up with the unprecedented temptation to cross over to the dark side. Someone could snatch the Mona Lisa off the wall of the Louvre in Paris, sell it in New York’s Central Park for a cool $350 million, get caught a week later, and expect to be given no more than 18 months or so for the ‘sale and transportation of stolen property.’ Lady Justice, herself a popular model for so many painters, blindly doesn’t consider the value of the goods when doling out her democratic, non-prejudicial punishments.
Why not steal the Mona Lisa as a first time offender, and you may only walk away with probation? Or drive away in your goldplated Hummer limousine. How many people would trade a year and a half stint in jail for $350 million? A better question is: who wouldn’t?
- Thomas McShane, author of Loot: Inside the World of Stolen Art

Maverick House will be giving away 5 books from our backlist to one lucky reader. The answers to the following question can be found on A winner will be drawn from all correct entries.

Question: Which law school is Thomas McShane a graduate of?

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Friday, 4 May 2007

Give it away

My parents are at present celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and a life well lived. I am fortunate enough to have been able to come home to share these special moments with them. Australia and family are great places to take a break from the maddening pace of my life abroad.
Sadly though, the local newspapers are full of news of two young girls who ended their lives tragically in the bush this past weekend. Found laying side by side, looking intimately serene, the 16-year-olds ended their Emo lifestyle leaving a nation stunned. One of the pair was an only child, both were beautiful and from good families with such bright futures, but tragically felt they could not go on.
These awful deaths have caused parents and teens alike to do some serious soul searching, and most certainly have presented me great cause for inner reflection.
I too am an Aussie, I too at 16 found no purpose in life. I too wanted to end it all…but thankfully someone threw down the live-life-to-the-fullest gauntlet and challenged the confused teenager with this profound thought, “If you want to throw your life away, why don’t you give it away?”
My rejoinder is 30 years of fulltime volunteer work in 18 countries. A life lived, not with ease, not without mistakes, tragedies or grief, but one lived with purpose. One Life lived feeling truly blessed.
My book has just been published. What a nerve wrecking ordeal I am undergoing as I await the launch and responses that will follow from having opened up my life and feeling so vulnerable to critics. Somewhere during the bouts of see-sawing anxiety, denial, regrets and glee—talk about manic depressive lifestyles—comes a sobering thought that puts all things into perspective. “The girls, the two beautiful girls, if only they’d found the treasure of a challenge that had been presented to me! If only I or some other concerned person had been able to pass it onto them! What about all the others”
Hopefully, someplace amongst the uncertainty of my life’s tales a tiny light will shine forth and a soul will be able to read between the lines and discover that same treasure. As for the critics, they do not nearly matter as much as the troubled Emo child, the lonely wanderer and those who care enough to give a damn; these are they for whom I wrote the book.
- Susan Aldous in Melbourne

In the spirit of giving, Maverick House will be giving away 5 books from our backlist to one lucky reader. The answers to the following question can be found on . A winner wil be drawn from all correct entries.

Question: Where is author Susan Aldous currently living?

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You may also submit your answer via e-mail to: