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?
My next one. Seriously, there are so many that I’m just in awe of. If forced to choose, I’d probably say LA Requiem. Tomorrow, though, it might be something else.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t really feel guilty about anything I read. Some people might regard military science fiction, stuff like David Drake and John Ringo, as something I SHOULD feel guilty about, but you know, I just don’t. It’s fun, even when it’s totally absurd.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Cracking open a big cardboard box that the UPS guy just delivered and looking down to see a whole bunch of real live honest-to-God new books in there, each one with my name on it, and thinking, “I did this.” The pleasure is somewhat diminished when the UPS guy leaves the box out under a tree, in the rain, like they did with my promo copies of Safe and Sound. I was not well pleased.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Well, I haven’t read every Irish crime novel; I don’t know that I’ve even read a fair sample. So, best Irish Crime Novel that I’ve read would have to be Ken Bruen’s The Killing of the Tinkers. That’s the one where I think Ken really hit his stride with the Jack Taylor character.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
John Connolly’s The Black Angel. I can see the scenes in the ossuary in my head already. The only problem would be that Connolly’s gorgeous prose wouldn’t make it onto the screen, but there’s enough striking visual imagery that it’ll still work as a movie.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best part is the people I meet: readers, booksellers, and especially other writers I admire. The day I met Ken Bruen, when I was all nervous and star-struck and wondering what the hell I was doing on the same panel with someone that talented, and he got up, hugged me, and told me how much he liked The Devil’s Right Hand … Man, I was, like, “Take me now, Lord, so I can die this happy.” The worst? Well, I think it’s the same for every writer: those moments when you’re staring at a blank page and going, “I got nothing. I can’t do this. I was just fooling myself.”
The pitch for your next novel is …?
It’s about a guy who’s paranoid because everybody IS really out to get him. The title is Breaking Cover.
Who are you reading right now?
I just started Christopher Buckley’s Boomsday, which promises to be as wildly funny as his other books No Way To Treat A First Lady and Thank You For Smoking. Buckley’s one of my favourites, because he’s got the most important personality trait for a satirist: balls of 100% cast iron. This is a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the words “over the top.” I picked up Boomsday because I’d just finished Jon Clinch’s Finn. It was excellent, but very dark, so I felt a craving for a few laughs. Next up is Ken Bruen’s Calibre.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Short, sharp, shock.
J.D. Rhoades’ Safe and Sound is available in all good bookshops.
“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. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.