Lawrence Gray has had three books published by Proverse Hong Kong. Most recently, his novel, "Adam's Franchise", won the Proverse Prize 2015 and was published in November 2016.
"In the land of Daoistan, freedom has arrived at last. The revolution liberated all, then enslaved everyone, and now it was liberating them again by allowing people to own credit cards. And a man with credit is a man who has the world at his fingertips, or at least a trip into town where the temptations are pretty much as they have always been, only more people can afford them.
"ADAM’S FRANCHISE is a story about Adam and his Franchise. He is not quite sure what that means, but he is a modern man, embracing the economic miracle and taking up a gift shop franchise at a new hotel. There he will sell much the same things that he always sold: baskets, pots, cultural artefacts of various kinds, except at a modern price to foreigners, should they ever care to come to the hotel. The desert that he lives in is not the most beautiful of places, policed by Omar who has to learn how to get out of his hammock, fuelled by Castrol who just loves the smell of petrol and the visions it gives him, and terrorised by nomads and Adam’s volatile brothers-in-law. But if it ever rids itself of the last vestiges of barbarism, both pre-revolutionary and revolutionary, as epitomised by Adam’s indolent, lustful, embittered, rapacious, cynical, superstitious father, Saleem, then harmony – both spiritual and economic –might assert itself. Or maybe, just air-conditioning.
"Daoistan exists everywhere, or has done at some time or other. And there have been many Adams."
In 2014, Gray’s collection of short stories, Odds and Sods, appeared as a Proverse Prize Publication with publication support by Hong Kong Arts Development Council. It features stories that meld French farce, Chinese opera, religious mysticism, Hollywood and Hong Kong movies in a kaleidoscopic tour de force.
Gray's satiric novel, "Cop Show Heaven", published in 2015, was also published with support by Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
Gray was born and educated in the UK and took BA honours in Economics and Politics from LeedsUniversity. He has lived in Hong Kong since 1991. He is a professional screenwriter and director and has written episodes of UK and Singapore TV dramas and written, produced and directed a number of films in English and Cantonese. He directed the feature film “Lust $ Found”, which he describes as an eccentric English gangster movie set in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong he founded the Hong Kong Writers’ Circle and chaired the group for twenty years, publishing many collections of stories from a wide variety of Hong Kongwriters.
Gray has taught screenwriting in various cities around the world, and was one of the first to professionalize the industry. In 1996, he won the first Public Awareness of Science drama award (PAWS) and the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum’s (HAF’s) award for best Hong Kong film project of the year in 2006.
These three titles can be purchased as follows:
Adam's Franchise: https://www.createspace.com/6263009
Cop Show Heaven: https://www.createspace.com/5976161
Odds and Sods: https://www.createspace.com/5962343
Cop Show Heaven
A character in a popular cop show, Dan Symmonds, is written out of the series and finds himself lingering in Cop Show Heaven. Here he must try to discover some depth to his personality in order to inspire a writer to re-invent him.
But of course, that’s just propaganda because nobody really wants depth, they just want what sells, or if not that, they just want that which sells what they want to sell! Here we are in a world aware of its own fictional nature, questioning the reasons for its own existence.
In this parody of parodies, any resemblance that Cop Show Heaven bears to Hong Kong and its film-making community is purely coincidental and whoever the readership assumes any of the characters to resemble is much mistaken.
All is fiction. All is fantasy. Nothing is predicted. No thesis is proffered. No solution is offered. And it all ends as Hollywood would have it end, with a beginning. Shakespeare might hold up a mirror to the times, but Gray holds up a mirror to the mirror.
Odds and Sods
Lawrence Gray's short stories and texts were written as the antidote to his screenwriting. The story, 'The One Legged Rickshaw Boy' illustrates his view of the absurdities of the film and TV world. And so in Odds and Sods he allows himself to have fun with words alone.
Characters in this world change their lives as if they are changing their clothes. They view reality as a shifting negotiation between moments of insanity. And when they want to fly, they take flight without reference to budgets
He buries the conventions of one form of writing within those of another. French farce clashes with Chinese opera. Science fiction translates into Chinese fairy tales. Sitcom meets Shakespeare. And the lyrics of Blues songs create narratives for the lives of those attempting to recreate them musically.
Literary greats turn up as bit-part players. Samuel Taylor Coleridge mingles with Punjabi Rap artists. Tang Xianzu of the Ming Dynasty bumps into George Feydeau. Antonin Artaud has a walk-on part, and if one wants to look, one can find Julian of Norwich, medieval mystic, stealing pencils in the dark.
In Gray's final piece, he gives a stimulating and unusual view of Hong Kong's chequered history.
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