Friday, January 23, 2015

Expats & Amahs - Conmen & Cheats

Australian con-man exploits naive local girl

When you're living in a foreign country you gravitate to your own countrymen and in the 90s there weren’t a lot of Australian’s living in Miri so we struck up a friendship with Joe.  Like my own husband and  90% of the men in the oil town, he worked for Shell. An entrepreneur from way back, he confided his plans to open up a bar. Not that straightforward a  proposition. You see in  Malaysia foreign investors must have a Bumiputra (native Malaysian) partner. The objectives of the policy  is to increase the incomes of tribal people who suffer from economic or social deprivation.

Enter Rosie 

Deserted by her husband, Rosie was struggling to bring up six children without any financial assistance from her ex or the government. In Dayak culture the family bond is strong and when Joe offered her a job, as his live-in amah, her sister offered to look after the children. It wasn't long before they were in a relationship.
Imagine how she felt when Joe told her about his plans to open a bar and offered her a partnership. For a poor uneducated woman with no prospects but a life of drudgery, it must have been like winning first prize in a lottery.

Once a cheat always a cheat

Joe's wife,out of the way in Perth, didn't know about Rosie. Once a cheat always a cheat, it wasn't long before he was cheating on Rosie. His opportunity came at Gawai, the Dayak harvest festival. It is the custom for  tribal people to travel back to their ancestoral long-houses for the celebration. The last thing Rosie did before leaving was bring in a big, heavy box she found outside the front door.

It sat for an entire week in the hot, muggy house, because in his girlfriend's absence Joe had taken off to the island of Labuan for a dirty weekend with a pretty barmaid, half his age.When he got back, the house ponged. Blood had seeped from the box, dripped from the table and pooled on the floor. Getting up the courage to open the box, he discovered a pig's head. Significantly, it's right ear was missing. You might wonder why a missing ear was significant. One look at Joe and you'd know. You see he'd lost his right  ear in a motorbike accident.You didn’t need to be Einstein to figure out who the pig represented!

By this stage, the bar was up and running with Joe playing mine host while Rosie cooked up a storm in the kitchen. When we went in for dinner he showed us a blood-soaked note.  It warned him to stop messing around with Muslim women or there's be another head in a box , also minus an ear.

Unlike that guy in The Godfather who woke up with a horse's head in bed beside him, Joe seemed unfazed.  I thought he should have have got out of town... and fast.  I mean this was the wild, wild East and I’d heard stories of ex-pats who had accidentally run down a child being hacked to death by the relatives.

No Justice


I don’t know what else Joe did to get on the wrong side of the locals, but down the track  gangsters broke into the premises and broke up the place. Maybe he had refused to pay protection money. Anyway word got round. Work colleagues, frightened for their safety stopped patronizing the bar. Bills mounted up and Joe did a runner leaving poor old Rosie with all his unpaid bills.

In the meantime, my husband had a health scare and we went home. I don't know what happened to Rosie. I can only hope, she found someone a whole lot nicer-- because life is no bed of Roses for a poor woman on her own in Malaysia. As for Joe, I heard he conned his way into a $300,000 job in Nigeria. I wrote about a Malaysian girl fresh from a jungle longhouse who is exploited by an ex-pat in The White Amah. Available in paperback and ebook formats click here to read or sample.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Karma Christmas Read



Ambitious and itching for adventure a schoolgirl auditions for the White Diamond's tour of South East Asia. From the moment she hits Singapore, the new recruit is determined to step into the star's sequinned heels.But how can a seventeen year old dance student compete with a show girl who has performed at the Lido in Vegas? Intent on heading uphill fast, Crystal will do anything....ANYTHING for top billing.

People pay for what they do, and for what they allow themselves to find out what Karma has in store for Crystal click here. $2.99 buys you a delicious weekend read.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Free Kindle eBook: SALVATION JANE by Ann Massey ~ a Christmas gift of hope & goodwill to all men

On December 5, 6 & 7, I am giving away SALVATION JANE. I thought of all my books, SALVATION JANE with its message of "goodwill to all men" was the best gift I could give to you at Christmas.

If you like a book that makes you think about the society we inhabit and the challenges we collectively should be tackling you will really enjoy Salvation Jane. Many readers have told me they have laughed and cried. Others say they now feel differently about the homeless.

So today please accept a free copy of SALVATION JANE and share it with a loved one this Christmas.

This book with a Christmas message is FREE on Amazon on the 5th , 6th & 7th only

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Molly, such a cutie!
At the start of  February I spent an utterly blissful week – (gorgeous dog, heavenly house) – with my darling daughter, Emma,  who patiently returned to the airport when I discovered I'd picked up the wrong case--her fantastic husband Daz,  and my adorable granddaughter Molly. They live in Sydney, my favourite city-- on the northern beaches near Palm Beach, the location for the long running soapie "Home and Away". The last time we got together was at a party to celebrate  my mother's 100th birthday last July. It's not just the tyranny of distance that keeps us apart-- I must admit I panic about leaving my  husband on his own. Any guilt I felt was completely wiped out by the gorgeous days I spent with my daughter, and reinforced by long phone  calls in which Cole told me he was managing brilliantly.

 While in Sydney I enjoyed the  pleasure of picking Molly up from school, and watching her train with her cheer leading team, the highrisers. At 7 tiny and utterly fearless, Molly is a flyer. I have to admit my heart was in my mouth watching her standing atop a rather shaky human pyramid.   Believe me being a long distance grandmother sucks in the worst possible ways! 

Sydney must have some of  the best restaurants in the world. Emma took me out for a most wonderful dim sum lunch at the fish markets with her best friend--also an Emma--I was thrilled to finally meet this very pretty young woman who is such fun and a wonderful friend to my daughter.

It was so lovely being part of Emma's life. I wish it could have gone on longer than just a  week.  The 7 days were, in a way, momentous because I have learnt that it is possible for me to spend time with my family. Maybe the next step forward will be convincing Cole to come with me. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Do Spirits really Exist?

A skeptic tells of an encounter

 with a believer

don't believe in spiritulism, fotune tellers and magic so I was skeptical when Jilly told me that a bomah had put a spell on her. A bomah is the Malaysian term for a witch doctor. At the time I was living in MIri in Sarawak, East Malayasia and I knew the Dayaks, the Indigenous tribal people still consulted bomahs but Jilly was a UK ex-pat. Still I have friends back home who visit clairvoyants so it wasn't so much the fact that she'd consulted a witchdoctor as much as her reaction to what he said.

Jilly was frankly edgy. Finally she broke down. In tears she told me the bomah threatened to curse her unless she gave him ten thousand rinngits.  I couldn’t believe that she could take his threat seriously. “Tell him that you’ll curse him back,” I joked.

Not long after Jill returned to England. I heard through a mutual friend that she had cancer. She later died. Though I believe her subsequent illness and death was no more than a coincidence perhaps I was too quick to dismiss other's beliefs. 


Writing is a way to reflect on experience


 When I constructed Roger, one of the more unpleasant characters in The White Amah I was having a dig at my own flippant attitude to unfamiliar ideas because I still feel guilty about the unsympathetic way I responded to Jilly. 

In my story Roger is having an affair with his amah, Rubiah. Hoping to become his wife, she has gone to a bomah for help.  Her plan miscarries when the bomah demands more money and threatens to put a spell on her if she doesn't pay up.

Roger is as skeptical as me. "Tell her  you'll curse him back," he says.  He then proceeds  to  mocks her beliefs calling her “an ignorant little jungle bunny”. I warned you he was an unpleasant character, didn’t I?  

As to whether spirits really exist the jury is out because as someone famously said--

"There’s more in heaven and earth than we can ever know."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Books That Defy Genre Labels

Today I'm turning my blog over to author and blogger, AB Shepherd. She talks about facing writers whose books aren't a perfect match for the major book genres. Over to you AB...

"What is a genre? It is a label used to categorize a book. It is intended to be useful to help readers discern whether they will enjoy it, and to help book stores know where to stock it on their shelves.But what happens when a book just doesn’t fit quite so nearly into a pre-established genre?

You end up with a book like Ann Massey’s Salvation Jane - which is chick lit, wrapped up in a political thriller, tied together with a romance/contemporary fiction/literary fiction/drama. It is one of those books that needs to be read by the masses, but just how to get it to them to read is tricky, because it doesn’t fit neatly into a genre category so it can’t be marketed easily.The same can be said of Lifeboat, my novel.

Lifeboat is a science fiction/mystery/thriller with aliens and UFOs, but it is so much more than that. It is a story of love, loss, isolation, coping mechanisms, manipulation, and mind games. It is a story that will leave you thinking. Don’t take my word for it - read the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.
But it is difficult to market because it doesn’t fit neatly into one or two of those predefined genre categories. Several readers have said of Lifeboat, “I hate books about UFOs and aliens, but I loved Lifeboat”. But because so many people dislike books about aliens and UFOs they will pass it by and miss out on a really good (if I do say so myself) book.
How many other authors are having this difficulty with their novels? I’m guessing many. I almost did the same with Salvation Jane. I don’t enjoy books about politics, so I nearly said “sorry”, but Ann told me it was more than that, so I gave it a chance and I really enjoyed it.

Oh sure, there are some authors who say “I write romance” or “I write thrillers” and that is exactly what they write. Those books easily find their target audience. There is nothing wrong with that, and good on ‘em. But what about the rest of us? Ann, me and all those others authors out there whose books are more than they appear at first glance. How do we go about finding our target audience when our books are different, and we don’t have a defined target audience?

It is difficult. All we can do is list the category we think it comes closest too and cross our fingers, hoping.
We can only hope that some open-minded readers like you will find them, like them, and share their discoveries with the world by not only leaving reviews, but talking about them with their friends and family.
I hope you will give Salvation Jane, and Lifeboat, a chance and keep your minds open.
What books have YOU read lately that defy their genre label?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Grass is Always Greener

Ann Massey's Reviews > Of Men and Monsters

Of Men and Monsters by E. M. Bahnsen
's review 
Jul 24, 13  ·  edit

Read in July, 2013

OF MEN AND MONSTERS is an intriguing book about a sexually naive young woman who thinks herself in love with a personable young man, the kind that well brought up girls from Main Line marry. Amanda Greene and Nick Toner go into the marriage with expectations they've never discussed. Before the year is out the marriage is in trouble, but instead of airing their problems both bury their heads in the sand. Unhappy and let down, Amanda is ripe for the picking-- and she's still to learn that when an alpha man meets a woman he wants, it doesn't matter if there's a ring on her finger.Embarking on an affair with her boss, Remy with her "eyes wide shut", she learns that the grass isn't always greener.

A romance:I would also categorize OF MEN AND MONSTERS as "a coming of age novel" because by the end of the story the immature, dependent girl-woman has been replaced by an independent grown-up adult.

A good, long read--I loved it