A life destined for writing crime thrillers.
Dad was a Dutchman, from Germanic heritage. My mother was an ‘Indische Nederlander’, or Indo-Dutch, a description given to a culture and race born out of the inter-marrying of Dutch colonial settlers and the indigenous Indonesian people, since the Dutch East India Company arrived in Batavia ( now Jakarta ) in the early 1600’s.
Born in Indonesia, and spending the first twelve years of my life growing up in Singapore exposes me to the wonderful cultural differences of Malayan, Chinese and Indian people. And of course, us Westerners, who had a different take on life altogether.
Singapore in the early 60’s was a volatile place to live, marked by political unrest between a Chinese majority population and a minority Malayan one. Despite being a young tacker of around seven to eight-years-old, I experience first-hand the fear our Malay servants have when going home – the fear of being macheted in the street by the roaming disenchanted. And the fear, my little sisters and I experience because of a bomb threat, a bomb planted in our neighbour’s yard next to our fence. A Chinese businessman on a killer’s hit list.
I remember the journey from Singapore to Holland, where I am to start boarding school. A stop-over in Beirut, June 1967. It is the 3rd of June, two days before the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt. At Beirut Airport I am confronted by a soldier and his huge machine-gun. Without any intent for harm he moves me along by nudging the barrel gently against my back. I am eleven-years-old, and lucky that the path of my future life protects me from the violence of war. Violence, you as a person have no control over, when it erupts around you.
The secret trade…
While my parents lived in Singapore, I was sent to Holland to embark on my secondary education. Once a year for the next five years, I spend a lot of hours on a slow plane travelling from one end of the world to the other. While sitting in airport lounges I learn the ‘secret’ trade of people-watching, not just travellers, but the locals, often wondering where or how people live, and how different their lives are from mine.
That silent and secretive observation eventually turns into imagining what people are actually up to, and what secrets they hold.
Sometimes I wonder if that soldier at the airport in Beirut survives those later years of war violence – to become a killer, a covert operative?
My life seems to be one of constantly saying goodbye to friends: from my primary school days in Singapore to my high school mates in Holland. Then, others again in Singapore, followed by my four-year stint at Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas, USA. Until finally settling in Australia in 1981, my life was in constant, but cushy upheaval.
…Life in Australia steers me to a thirty-year stint working in home building, being a father and husband.
Stop talking, start writing a crime thriller.
More than once in my colourful life I am told, “Geez, you talk a lot, always have something to say, don’t you? Maybe, you ought to write a book or something. Might keep you quiet for a while.”
I have to become a story-teller. A writer of fiction: colourful characters, crime, thrillers and killers.
An author of Australian fiction – bring to life all those tall stories and great yarns I’d heard at smoko, camp-fires, boozy arvos around the work truck, and not to forget the many pubs I stumbled out of.
…Years later, STEALTH is born.
February 2015, staring out of an airplane window high above the Queensland, a crisp clear landscape underneath, the morning-blue sky around us, no cloud …the idea for a story pops out of its shell.
But … STEALTH turns out to be completely different from the early mind explosions full of a thousand plots. READ: https://www.amazon.com/Stealth-John-Hollenkamp-ebook/dp/B06XFPWNZX
In STEALTH, a thriller plot emerges. I just follow the footsteps of STEALTH characters as life hands it out to them, and so I write their stories.
Life is unpredictable in its daily dish-up. I think we all ask the question: “How did that happen? Where did that come from? … and without warning.
Here’s an excerpt from STEALTH:
…Two Berettas, a grand, you fucking beauty. It seemed like days ago, that happy thought. Bouncing around tied up in the back of the roughest ride of his life, … was angry at himself for being such a fool. How was it that he ever got involved with this arsehole?…
And that’s the gist of it – one day you choose the left-hand direction only to wind up in the right-hand lane, going off a cliff…
The outcome arrives by stealth.