Daddy’s Hobby by Owen Jones is the first novel from this Welsh writer. It explores why so many girls work in Pattaya and how they fare. It is his best-selling book.
Daddy’s Hobby by Owen Jones is an insightful look at why tens of thousands of young women choose to enter the Pattaya sex tourism industry, and how many of them get on. They and other attractions bring more than a million tourists to Pattaya every year. Most of them are men with money looking for a good time.
Daddy’s Hobby by Owen Jones – Origins.
In the mid-to late Seventies, Owen Jones was working in the south Netherland’s city of s’Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in Noord Brabant. One day, a popular new bar opened up at the bottom of the street he lived in. It was a ‘Relax Bar’, a concept he didn’t understand, but he liked the sound of the music. One afternoon, he ventured inside. The bar was practically empty despite the fact that the landlord was very friendly and played lots of Heavy Metal, which was very popular at the time.
After a while he noticed a few scantily-clad young ladies looking at him from the darker recesses at the back of the room. When he went to the toilet, he was left in no doubt what a relax bar was. The owner/barman, whose name was Rick, I think, played the Meatloaf album ‘Like A Bat Out of Hell’ from cover to cover three or four times a day and sold marijuana, which had been decriminalised. This record more than any other brought the ‘house dancing girls’ out onto the floor.
The bar was called ‘Daddy’s Hobby’. I liked everything about it including the name, which I thought was very clever. Within a month or two, it was the busiest bar in the city. However, sadly, within a year, Rick had been murdered and his bar burned down. We all thought that it had to do with drugs.
Daddy’s Hobby by Owen Jones – Development.
In the early 2,000’s Owen Jones moved to Pattaya, and started going out with the cashier of the first bar he had a drink in. It put him in a ‘trusted position’ with ‘the girls’. Soon most of the thirty-odd girls who worked there were seeking his advice. Their favourite topic was how best to write saucy texts and emails to their ‘boyfriends’. Most of these had already returned home to their wives or girlfriends in Europe and elsewhere, but mostly the UK. That bar was a more flagrant example of Rick’s Daddy’s Hobby, but without the drugs.
After a few weeks, he had inadvertently collected many scraps of paper with translated messages on them. So, he sought the girls’ permission to write them into a book. No-one disapproved when he promised to use false names. It was funny, he said, because all the girls and most of the clients were already doing that anyway. Everybody was lying, especially the men. He recalls that he had never met so many navy SEALS, SAS, commandos, MI5 and CIA operatives in his life before. Not a one of them was a carpenter or civil servant, and they were all single, looking for a wife!!
There was no other name for the book than Daddy’s Hobby, subtitled Behind The Smile but for various reasons, it took him eight years to self-publish it.
Daddy’s Hobby by Owen Jones – Sequels.
Owen Jones used the name of Lek for his lead female character. She was also the life and soul of the bar, and didn’t mind the author using her real name. She too is sadly long dead. He used the Welsh name Craig for the main male, although there are many other dramatis personae in the novel. When he was writing the book, it was the Lek character that dictated to him in his head what he must write. He had already determined that the book should be 100,000 words long, but when he reached that level, it was clear that Lek hadn’t finished her story. So, Owen closed book one, published it, and started a sequel.
You may be wondering why it took eight years to bring Daddy’s Hobby to market, if it was being dictated.
“Well, when I looked at Craig’s character I could see too much of myself… I just was not prepared to share it at that point”, he says. “I nearly gave up several times, but Lek and I stuck with it and produced a result”.
He did not like the idea of calling the second volume Daddy’s Hobby 2, so he gave it the name of a significant chapter in volume one, An Exciting Future. It now needed a series title to bind them together and that became Behind The Smile. The books are frequently referred to as Behind The Smile.
Lek kept up the pressure for several more years until Behind The Smile consisted of seven volumes, of 720,000 words.
Daddy’s Hobby – the Future.
“Although the Lek in my head was the inspiration of the actual stories, encouragement came from elsewhere. It was also more important”, he says.
“My stepmother hated the book, and two of my three brothers have never mentioned any of my fifty-odd novels. However, one thought it was fantastic though, and asked me to write a sequel. I had also run a competition for a free copy. Coincidentally, the woman who won it was a student journalist, who wrote an encouraging review. I opened the door to Lek again, and started volume two.
“Suddenly, I started to receive encouragement from complete strangers all around the world. Unfortunately, I have still heard nothing from friends and family from my home town. It used to upset me a lot, until I learned that that was quite common in the UK. People seem to resent someone improving themselves”.
He claims to know three readers, who hadn’t read a book since leaving school – one of them being eighty-four! Two others have since written novels, and one has moved to Thailand to see it ‘for himself’! Many readers have sought him out for a drink when they are visiting Thailand, and others went to Spain and Wales to meet him.
Owen says that he hasn’t been back to Pattaya for several years. However, when he was last there tourists and expats knew of his books, and some had read them all. Its particularly affected him when a young Thai woman ran up to him, kissed him on the cheek, and said: “You’re the lovely man who writes nice things about Pattaya bar girls, aren’t you. Thank you very much”.
Every month, he sells several box sets of seven, who can only be going off reviews or recommendation.
Behind The Smile by Owen Jones – Narrations and Translations.
In these days of Covid, it has been difficult to find further inspiration for what he calls the Lek Series. Between 2016 and 2018, he and his Thai wife (that first girl, the cashier, that he met in Pattaya) lived in Andalucía, Spain. From 2018 to 2020, the tried living in Wales. However, Pritti Patel and the Tories made it too difficult for his wife to obtain a residency permit. He says that he will never forgive them for that.
However, while in Spain, Owen started to have his books translated and narrated. Principally in Spanish so that he could sell them to the local Spanish as well as the expats. He soon started to receive offers of collaboration from all over the world in fifteen languages. Since living back in Thailand, and he has been in lockdown in the village because of Covid-related travel restrictions. So, he has been concentrating on these narrations and translations. He now has more than one thousand books in thirty-eight languages registered in his name in the British Library.
“I still would prefer to be writing fresh material though”, he adds with a hint of sadness.