All posts in the shanghai [exile] diaries

twenty nine and 2190 days


well, thanks, little nephew of mine.

it’s been a helluva year, since my last birthday…

let’s see:

– Josie and I spent my 34th cruising on Absurdity in the South of England, if you learn to sail, you can have her [boat].

– after that, I went to go see Nico [he’ll be a quasi-uncle to you] in Paris and had the time in Paris that everyone wants.

– but I got into a little bit of trouble with the U.K. government, and had 30 days to leave.

– so, naturally, I dragged Josie to Vietnam. to live.

– we stayed there for a few months, but ended up going our separate ways. she to Australia to work. me to Oregon to finish a book.

– a few months into my stay in Bend, I finally got to meet you. and that very day, I started writing another book.

– a month of so after that, I flew to Perth to see Josie for her birthday. we took a campervan around wine country. it was fun.

– a few months later, I left Bend for a month in Oklahoma and the promotional run of the book would be released. it sold out.

– a few weeks after that, I got the call that I never thought I’d get – I was about to take a job in New York fuckin City! I’ve now been here a little more than 4 months and it’s been amazing. I’ve been sending you little postcards and stuff, hopefully one day you’ll be able to check them out.

– my birthday was spent with a lot of friends. which, considering how short I’ve been here, should tell you how lucky I am.

… so there you go, nephew – it’s been a fun 34th year. you just started walking and by the time my 36th [ugh] rolls around, you might even be able to talk with me on the phone a little bit. a lot of your and my birthdays will be spent on the phone, but I’ll try and make that up to you.

so, thanks for the card and the cheeky little grin. I showed this to a lot of people here and they all thought you were amazing.

and I think so too.


Uncle Aric

interview 1. upstart.

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Heather Rogers, at UpStart in Australia, had the amusing task of calling me late one night [read post below to get an idea of the setting] and then transcribing all of my cultural and life wisdom into an interview about the book. she might now be rethinking journalism as a career. although I hope she doesn’t.


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we all have those friends who – after years of not seeing each other – pick right up where things were left off. no need for a huge so-tell-me-all-about-what-you’ve-been-up-to? pow-wow. just a hug, a laugh and an adult beverage.

in the theme of complete transparency, when I released the book, I scrolled through my contact list and, have to admit to wondering if a handful of people – like the kind mentioned above: those I don’t keep in constant contact with, despite really liking – would take the time/effort/money to pick up a copy. it’s a sensitive thing, this… art [?]. ask anyone who creates anything – it’s a really personal experience. birth-giving, if you will. with more stretch marks.

well, not only did my friend Neenz pick up a copy, she took the time to write about it yesterday.

‘oh sure’ you say, ‘an image here, a few words there and presto!’, but it’s not that easy. it takes time. thought. research.

and Neenz is a busy lady. a very busy lady. 15,000+ followers on Twitter. on top of everything else she does, she’s even into politics these days [although, many would question why she, herself, isn’t running for the Hawaiian Governor title?].

so yeah, this came from a lot of love. and I got to say, I got nothing but the same for this wonderful being.

and she is, most definitely, that. ask anyone who knows her.

this is, officially, my first piece of press. and for it to come from her made my entire week.

[it meant a lot to me, lady. thank you.]

the shanghai diaries [preface]

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so. the books are here. and the books will start to be shipped to you on wednesday. over the past weekend, we had a little book launch party and it was fun to start handing them out. once you get yours, I’m quite keen on all sorts of feedback, so if/when you get a chance, drop me a note to let me know what you thought of it.

it should be said that what got me in trouble in China, was the online/television show I was producing for Current TV. it started out as a small thing and quickly went viral. it was nothing more than a homemade movie where I checked in daily explaining everything that was really going on.

the shows are still up on Current, but they’ve got the annoying commercials in front of them, so what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks is uploading them all to a personal account [quite the feat when you realize I’m in the backwoods of Oklahoma].

starting tomorrow [was going to be today, but I’m sick. and I never get sick. ugh.], I’ll start posting one video a day; if for no other reason than to watch the slow decline of my mental stability until one day I just bought a ticket to Thailand, shaved my head and told everyone to ‘fuck off’.

so check in. they’re only about 2-3 minutes each. and it’ll definitely help the book make sense.

okay, I’m going to go back to being ill.

cover. and synopsis.

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[this is the blurb, or, synopsis which is going on the back of the book. I. fucking. love. it.]

”At the prow of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, few so irreverently cut through the Chinese suppression as Aric S. Queen, the messy-haired controversial producer of “The Shanghai Diaries.” While on hiatus in Indonesia, one phone call changes everything. Aric discovers the Chinese police are hunting him down. Caught between nowhere to go and nowhere to go back to, this is the story of his exile.

From climbing Mount Rinjani in an orange sarong to riding a motorcycle through Nepal, smelling the burning dead in Varanasi and ditching patchouli and enlightenment at a Thai Monastery, to visiting secret Burmese schools and skirting through a labyrinth of sexual and pharmaceutical faux pas, this book accomplishes much more than the duct tape inside this vagabond’s backpack. The Shanghai [Exile] Diaries wields a conspicuous rip through the cloaked underbelly of China while pulling its reader through an intensely personal journey of love, validation, and utter originality.”

by Sunny Cherme Cooper

your first.

aric the red. aric the read.


it should be noted that once, somewhere in my mid-twenties, I slapped a musician friend of mine for referring to himself in the third person. it should also be noted that there is a very large potential for me now to be even more up my own ass than before, having just sold a shit-ton of books before they are even out for public consumption. both of those being admitted, I couldn’t help but put that title in.

aren’t I clever? did I mention I wrote a book? what an interesting person I’m becoming!

I kid.

sadly only a little.

what you’re looking at is the first proof of the book. 3 years, 7 revisions and countless directions took with it and I’m still not happy with it. but I’m going to have to be happy with it, as the order goes out sometime next week. I was thinking about making a mad-dash with all of these monies in my pocket, but sadly, even after selling 200 early copies, I’m left with $183.

seriously. a little more than a buck-fifty.

should I go ahead and dispel that myth right now? I think I should…

writing a book ain’t gonna make you any money.


I need to sell 300 more copies just to break even. and I’m not meaning ‘break even’ as in ‘well, I spent $2000 worth of wine over the past 3 years while working on this, so I need to recoup that’, no, I’m talking about paying my amazing staff, and paying for the printing.

500 copies! to make a profit!

long story short, this will end up costing me money. is it worth it? 1000 times over. I get to give my friends something I made… at a price, mind you, but it’s still kind of giving.

but this isn’t about how much money I’m not going to make.

it’s about that old saying:

‘if a movie didn’t have a deadline, it’d never get made.’

and boy-oh-boy, ain’t it the truth? I see, on every page, things I would change. this was started 3 years ago and I’ve grown [debatable] since then. especially as a writer. did you ever read my early stuff? they were chapters! painful! not to say this is anything mind-blowing, but seriously… I even had a poetry phase. twice. geeze.

but no. it’s about needing to put that red Sharpie down. in 5 days time, it’s going to have to be put down. and then, I step back away from the pool of personal validation and public acceptance. I need to throw it into the deep end and simply let go.

so, good luck, little book.

sorry about the months of neglect, or the constant mood changes. Frank was right when he said ‘man, the first thing you gotta do is learn the difference between ‘mood’ and ‘style’; and for that, I’m sorry for my bipolar approach to you. sorry about the scars, trust me that I did it out of love… for the most part.

thanks for carrying a lot of my weight.

it’s time for you to go to someone else’s home now.


book orders!

well, hello!

you might be here to buy a book.

unfortunately, all 200 of the advance copies sold out in 4 days.

of course, you can still buy a regular copy.

and, if you’d like it signed, can pay a bit extra to have it shipped to Aric to do so.

[our ‘order’ page is undergoing a makeover now, that’s all.]

but, should you not be able to wait, simply pay:

$25 for the book and either $5 for U.S. delivery, or $10 for anywhere else.

if you want it personally signed, throw in another $10 for that as well.

PayPal it to: book [at] theshanghaiexilediaries [dot] com

and you’ll be all set… sorry ’bout the mess!

the monday after the thursday.


uncle aric might need to edit that a bit for your little ears, nephew.

these past 4 days have been nuts. this book and I have had an on-again/off-again relationship for the past 3 years, so I guess that it just slowly became an all-consuming part of me. but starting last Thursday, it became something else. it took the first step into being in someone else’s hands. that’s both fun and scary.

by the end of today – again, just 4 days in an advance run – we’ll most likely be in back order country, which is amazing. it’s amazing because I sold 85% of these on Facebook, and the other 15% from here. no paid marketing, no Google Ads, nothing.

and this is all from a book people haven’t read - that’s what I keep reminding myself.

there’s also the argument now to whether or not we go ‘public’, IE: buying an ISBN number, getting on Amazon, etc… to be completely honest, I’m torn with this one. I walked away from two publishers when this first got started for the reason that I wanted complete control, as well as I couldn’t stand waiting around. there are more books in my head [after reading this first one, you might not care to purchase any more, but still…] and I’m already 3-years older than the kid in this book. and it’s time to evolve. I also like the fact that, through extreme luck and fortune, I was able to find a team to help me with this book who are also operating under the same ‘rogue’ description. so I’d really like to be able to sell a handful of these things without ever going to the monsters. everyone now knows how to search for a book, and, if we’ve done our jobs right, then that search will end up here. I’d like to think that everything was bypassed and this book still did decently.

did I mention being 5 books away from a back order? without this book ever seeing anyone’s hands but mine? 195 people. that’s a helluva lot for a first-timer with no advertising. and it has little to do with me.

it must also be said that I’m in talks with a PR team. maybe they want to be on these big sites and they’re much smarter than me. but I’ve spoken to a number of people who are also interested in self-publishing and I’d like to be able to use this first attempt as an example.

so there’s that.

and then, there’s the problem I’ve been running into since this whole thing started. the problem is that I come from two families: The McQueens, and The O’Conners – both Irish. meaning we’re no good with monies. I was taught this at a very young age. money is helpful, but it’s nowhere near the top of things important. so I had this amazing thought of being able to click ‘reject’ on the PayPal button for everyone I owed a great deal of gratitude to.

I started running down the list, doing the math in my head as I went.

and ended up with 7 people who I’d let pay.


but, in the end, I got people to pay and a print order to settle up, so I went ahead and took it all.

rest assured though, if I didn’t have these bills, it would have been a pleasure.



a note. from the editor.

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Like any editor, I worry and fuss over my book projects like they are babies, hoping nothing falls through the cracks because they inevitably do, which explains the obsessive reading and the editorial insistence to “send it over to me one more time” while the baby is rushing headlong through multiple phases of publishing puberty.  Ask any editor, they will admit the same plague. At some point, I have to kiss it goodbye and wish it all the best.

But this book, perfection or not, deserves just the raw dish it served me.  Editor hat aside, I found myself in a rare place with this project … often reading ahead, shifting my gear into neutral so that I could take in the terrain of Aric S. Queen, vagabond traveler with a penchant for narrow escapes and artistic success of providential margins.  This book manages a conspicuous rip through the cloaked underbelly of China while pulling its reader through an intensely personal journey of a soul-baring backpacker.  If you don’t like the F word, don’t read this book. If you like spitting on ducks, don’t read this book.  If you love China, don’t read this book. If you are wondering what China was hiding during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, read this book.  If you have a nagging feeling China sent a clear message to the rest of the world with all those synchronized drummers, read this book. If you want some insider nuggets you won’t find anywhere else on traveling through Asia, read this book. But you will get more than you bargained for. (Ie. Brothels, Opium, The Himalayas, and a lot of beer and noodles.  But you didn’t hear that here … )

What you heard was this: You will not like everything you read in this book, you will pee in your pants laughing, you will be surprised at this man’s quest for love, and you will sleep better at night knowing a man as fearless as Aric S. Queen exists.

So, before Anderson Cooper and the rest of the world get their hands on Shanghai [Exile] Diaries, buy a signed copy and invite this man to dinner.

Sunny Cherme Cooper

The Proof Pen

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