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?
If Donna Tartt’s incredible The Secret History counts as a crime novel, then definitely that. Otherwise, Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. I like crime books that mess with the conventions.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Eva Ibbotson – not a guilty pleasure, exactly, but definitely a self-indulgent one. She’s the fiction equivalent of a big box of good chocolates.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Finishing In The Woods. I’d got to the point where I thought the bloody thing was never going to be done, I’d be eighty and it would be the length of a phone book and I’d still be writing, so finishing it was hugely satisfying. Also, I did a reading in the East Village in New York a couple of months ago, and I ended up signing a skateboard. Maybe I’m easily amused, but that made my day.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Pat McCabe’s The Butcher Boy. It grabs you by the throat and drags you straight into the narrator’s twisted world; you come up gasping for breath.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Come on, just about every writer in the world is going to say ‘Mine! Mine!!’ I'’d love to see any of John Connolly’s books on film, though, and any of Arlene Hunt’s would be great on TV.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best: I get to wake up every morning and know that the only thing I have to do today is something I love doing. I’m constantly amazed by how jammy I am. Worst: It’s hard to switch off. When you’ve got a deadline, the temptation is to go into full-on panic mode, handcuff yourself to the computer and forget to have a life.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
He could have lost a pub bet and had to let his mates pick his name for his next book, except that ‘Benjamin Black’ is sort of mild for that. I don’t know what John Banville’s mates are like, but mine would have come up with something a lot more embarrassing.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
I’d love to say something like ‘dark, tangled, haunting’, but going by readers’ e-mails, the real answer is probably ‘makes you late’. I’ve had a bunch of people tell me that they were reading In The Woods and ended up being late for work / missing their stop / staying up all night. I like that. Being a bad influence is one of my favourite things.
Tana French’s In The Woods is on a best-seller list near you
“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.