"It's very hard to write about that which is beautiful and pleasant and good. There's no friction in it. There's no trouble. You have to have trouble. Somebody's got to get in trouble, or nobody wants to read it."
Paul Bowles said that, and he ought to know - the characters in his books get in enough trouble to last the rest of us our whole lives through. Remember the professor of languages who gets his tongue cut out by Moroccan villagers and spends his days trying to ask visting tourists for help? "Ugh um un unkpunk lungkpunk, hunk unkh!" And they think he's the village idiot and give him a dirham.
And so to work.
Sue Guiney's "A Clash of Innocents" deals with the eruption of a mysterious stranger, Amanda, into the orderly world of 60 year old American expat Deborah, who runs an orphanage in Phnom Penh.
Deborah at first resents and mistrusts Amanda, then comes to rely on her, until we learn Amanda's secret. It's as melodramatic as anything Bowles could have imagined.
Deborah is well drawn and believable, and there's a host of lesser characters - the children from the home, Kyle the male lead, and even a special guest appearance from a Swedish (sic) doctor who runs a hospital in Siem Reap. (He doesn't play the cello).
and Sue Guiney's website is here (all authors these days have websites and twitter accounts).
It's available through amazon and kindle.
I wish more people would write books set in Cambodia.