Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael’s Penance. I love all of the Brother Cadfael series, but this one is so beautifully written with a slightly mournful elegiac note that it is my favourite. What lends it extra poignancy is that I think Ellis Peters was probably dying of cancer when she wrote it.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I’m not sure where the guilt comes – I’m retired and if I feel like reading, I read. I don’t watch much television, which mostly seems to be a lot of boring nonsense to me, and I have no pretensions to being an intellectual, so any book that captures my attention is a worthwhile read for me. My cottage is full of books so there is never a lack of material.
Most satisfying writing moment?
I’m not a wonderful writer, but I think the best thing I did was a final showdown between my detective, Mara, the Brehon, (judge), and the guilty person. I wrote a whole chapter without giving away the identity of the killer and I really enjoyed writing that.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Probably Tana French’s In The Woods – rather disturbing for someone like me who likes her books to be cosy, but undoubtedly very powerfully written.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Would it be terrible to say that I think My Lady Judge would make a great movie? I think the Burren landscape is so unique and so little known, even to many people in Ireland, that I think it would make a wonderful film. If you have a look at www.coraharrison.com you will see what I mean about the landscape.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is how long it takes for a book to get published. I write very quickly and am always ahead of publishers’ deadlines, so when it comes to editing time I’m quite bored with the book and just interested in the one that I am currently writing. The best thing about being a writer is that it gives you a unique opportunity of creating your own world and this, I think, is what I have done in My Lady Judge. I keep thinking how much I would have liked to have lived then and how beautiful and peaceful life was – despite the odd murder.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
I don’t know, but I would guess that it is part of turning himself into a different person so that he can write in a different style. I read once of a woman who wrote under two names, and she used to have two computers, each in a different room, and this helped her to have a distinctive voice for both series.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
History, mystery and romance.
Cora Harrison’s My Lady Judge is available in all good bookshops now
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.