The Awful Consequences
De La Mare had earlier tried a similar "publish me" stunt in New York, circling the Empire State Building in his glider before landing in a garbage bin outside a police station and being arrested. You'd think he would interpret that as God telling him to rethink his direction in life, but he didn't, and he was arrested in London as well, with a palace spokesman remarking that the struggling author seemed "surprised by the vigor and speed of the police response."
Translated into American, that means "they tasered him until he peed himself."
All things considered, though, De La Mare was lucky: both of his publicity attempts occurred in late 2000, so being arrested was the worst thing that happened to him. Try something like that these days and you'd be shot down by drones before you could say "Guantanamo." It doesn't work out that well for everyone.
Being Sent to a Thai Prison
In 2009, Australian lecturer and writer Harry Nicolaides was arrested in Thailand. Most foreigners who get arrested in Thailand at least get to enjoy some drugs shortly beforehand, but Nicolaides' crime was far less enjoyable: several years earlier, he'd self-published a novel that contained a passage obliquely insulting the Thai royal family. This happens to be totally against the law in Thailand, where the king is revered as semi-divine. Seriously, it's like going to a World Coffee Fan Convention and declaring that you prefer decaf Nescafe. You just don't do it.
We laugh now, but a guy in Seattle went to prison for that.
According to Heath Dollar, an old friend of Nicolaides', the decision to break the law was a deliberate attempt to be arrested. Nicolaides, Dollar said, had confessed to him in the past that he believed the key to getting a publishing deal was creating a publicity stunt. He'd even admitted to Dollar that the anti-monarchy passage was a deliberate way to drum up talk about the novel.
The Awful Consequences
Nicolaides' stunt happened during a particularly harsh crackdown on printed "we hate the king" material. The writer was denied bail and sentenced to three years in a Thai prison, a place that ranks up there with "bovine anti-diarrhea-drug testing facility" in the category of places you probably don't want to stay for three years. He was released after six months, but unless being kept in a crowded, unhygienic cell with murderers and rapists does a lot for your creative-writing juices, it still probably wasn't worth it.
Things got even worse when he emerged with a script for a gritty reboot of Anna and the King.
Here, I should also note that Nicolaides denied Dollar's accusation that the passage was a publicity stunt and accused Dollar of making up the story so that he could further his own writing career. So I guess the next step is for someone to accuse me of inventing the entire Thai royal family to get another entry for this article. Come on, has anyone you know actually been to "Thailand"? Wake the hell up, people.
C. Coville's funny book, One-Star Reviews, is available right now! Please buy a copy to ensure that she never needs to resort to any of this stuff.
For more from C. Coville, check out The 4 Selfish Reasons People Share a Thing on Facebook. And then check out The Terrifying (Inevitable) Future of Advertising.
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