Colin Redux, February 2013

Since last year around this time, the Cotterill Compound, then home to one amiably irascible mystery author and six rambunctious dogs of dubious breeding, has morphed rather dramatically in several dimensions, not limited to those of time and space. One year back, I stayed in what was then the main house, a large detached studio apartment with a big porch overlooking the Gulf of Siam no more than twenty meters to the east. A two-car carport, a semi-outdoor washroom, and a nicely-appointed maid’s quarters completed the suite. There was, however, no maid in sight, and none on the horizon.

A one-room artist/writer studio, a few steps away, housed volumes of Colin’s books in several languages, award plaques from various writers’ organizations, and an artist’s desk piled high with drawings (both finished and otherwise), rendered in a style that can be much easier illustrated than explained (however, if you are reading the Braille edition of Mysterious Orientations, there is a bit of Gahan Wilson in the characters, more than a bit of Charles Addams in the quirky humor–there is a reason why his UK editions are published by Quercus–and overtones of Maurice Sendak or perhaps Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the expressions of those individuals caricatured by his sharpened quill).

The day I left, ground was broken on what would someday be his new house. I got to see the architectural drawings of the place, and it all looked very two-dimensional to me: no color, no texture, just a bunch of geometrically-oriented lines that looked for all the world like, well, an architectural drawing.

So, you can begin to imagine my surprise, when I arrived this year, upon seeing a large edifice of yellow and white concrete, red tile roof, and broad expanses of glass. Barely two weeks finished as of my arrival in January, it looked to be an integral part of the grounds, as if it had been secretly in place the whole time.

A few other additions rounded out the roster of changes: Ei and Jo, the Burmese couple serving as housekeeper and jack-of-some-trades respectively, and Kyoko, Colin’s new wife, fresh from Japan!

Add to that mix a pair of Japanese guests: Saki, visiting me from Tokyo for a couple of weeks of her annual holiday; and Keiko, a long-time friend of Kyoko’s who flew in from Singapore on her way home to Kyoto. The boys were seriously outnumbered!

Stay tuned for the photos, or better yet, pick up a copy of GQ, the Chinese edition, which will feature Colin’s new digs as one of its “Foreigners’ Homes in Thailand”, coming soon to bookshelves all over the Middle Kingdom!

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