S.E.A. Write Award winning writer Prabda Yoon, 38, recently made headlines for his support for amending Article 112, relating to the lèse-majesté law. He defends his comments, while revealing his former desire to become a priest, and his love of all things Japanese.

I love mystery. As a kid I wanted to be a magician or an archeologist so that I could dig up something mysterious.

I wasn’t an outdoor kid. All I did was read books and watch movies alone.

Bookstores were my favorite place when I studied in the US. I would be there for hours reading books and magazines till late at night. I was interested by novels but had no confidence to become a writer.

I came back to be a soldier in the Thai army for six months. I didn’t want to do it because I was kind of against the whole idea of the army. But I had to come back because it was required by law.

Being a soldier was pretty boring. I thought I would feel frustrated being under such strict rules, but I wasn’t. It was like going back to school again. All I had to do was wake up at 4am and train until noon.

There is internal politics everywhere, even in the army. I saw that soldiers are professionals; they also want to get promoted like everyone else.

I started my new life after the army without any plan. I felt out of place here. All my friends were in the US and I didn’t know where to find new ones.

I had no motivation to be a writer. I just wrote some English novels while working as a movie critic for the Nation Weekend magazine. I watched lots of movies back then.

I asked Praew magazine about writing short stories for them when they contacted me for an interview. They said yes and that’s what kick-started my writing career.

I’ve never thought my writing was that important or gave value to society, so it was a real surprise when I won the S.E.A. Write Award in 2002. I thought they would focus on serious novels, but this cemented my desire to become a professional writer.

I’ve never felt any pressure having a famous father [Suthichai Yoon, Nation Group’s Editor in Chief]. I’ve never really gone out much so I didn’t know what people’s expectations were.

Becoming a journalist like my father was never my plan. I love routine: to go to work by day and to go home in the evening.

Media is now in the hands of the people, so it’s hard to maintain steadfast principles. I think the media is in a period of transition. The fact that you can write and post something online, doesn’t make it news. Journalists are still the main reliable source of information but they have to adapt to technology.

I’ve come under attack from some parts of the media because I support an amendment to Article 112 [the lèse majesté law]. It’s a sensitive issue, so I understand why they are so angry at me.

I want to live in a society where we can have an argument without violence. When disagreements occur, one side shouldn’t be painted as traitors. It’s an immature society that fights without reason. We should accept that there are different opinions and faiths.

Loving your country doesn’t mean that everything is good and you can’t criticize it. Specific issues should be considered individually. If we don’t talk about these problems now, it might be too late in 10 years time.

If the definition of being a traitor is disagreeing with the majority, then yes, I might be one. But from my viewpoint, I love Thailand in my own way.

I opened Typhoon Publishing House nine years ago because I wanted to slow down my work. Writing lots of column inches burns a lot of energy.

I now plan to open an e-book shop and website, www.bookmoby.com I plan to make it a society for book lovers, writers and book designers to share their work and get noticed. I want it to be as open as Youtube or Facebook, where you can share your work freely.

I love Japanese philosophy and culture. I fell for their artistic simplicity when I studied in the US. I even thought of becoming a priest in Japan where they can marry and have children. I couldn’t be cut off from the world like a Thai monk.

All I can do is travel there. I’ve had works like Kagami no Naka o Kazoeru (Counting the Inside of a Mirror, 2007) and Zayuu no Nippon (My Desk-Side Japan, 2008) translated and published in Japan. I am also an occasional columnist for Esquire in Japan.

My life is quite straightforward because I live in the city. Now I dream of being more outdoorsy. I used to go trekking and camping in the forest and it felt so good. I’ve been planning to take a trip with Japanese friends for years but have not yet managed it.

I never think about success. All I do is focus on finishing the work at hand.

I will consider myself successful when I have no passion to do anything new, and I content living a routine life.


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