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?
Lord. Straight in with the easy stuff, aren’t you? Either The Death Of Sweet Mister which really is one of those books that does the odious thing of “transcending the genre”, and written by one of the finest living American authors, or The Grifters by Jim Thompson, which remains my favourite Thompson. Or Cotton Comes To Harlem for its humour and brevity. Or The Postman Always Rings Twice for its longevity and clarity. Or The Shark-Infested Custard for its savage take on single men about twenty years before Neil Labute.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
The literary children of Peter Biskind. I’m a sucker for movie non-fiction (just finished bios on Spike Lee and Hitchcock), and the only reason it’s a guilty pleasure is that something like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls has absolutely no bearing on what I’m currently writing. Hell, anything I read nowadays that isn’t research is a guilty pleasure.
Most satisfying writing moment?
When a book has passed muster with my wife. If there’s anything more satisfying than that, I haven’t experienced it yet.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
The Guards is a major book, but if I can pick one by an Irish author not necessarily set in Ireland, I’d have to go for one of my favourite Bruens – The Hackman Blues or American Skin. Having said that, I hear good things about Declan Hughes. Oh, and Gene Kerrigan.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Don’t know if this counts, seeing as he lives in Denver, but Hidden River by Adrian McKinty is ripe for the movies.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst is the chatter, the “advice” from people I wouldn’t trust to sit the right way on a toilet, the naysayers, the doomwatchers, the wannabes and neverweres, the sheer overwhelming stench of a million “writers” who don’t actually read books for fun. Especially when it overwhelms the reason we all started this in the first place – to write something we’d want to read. The best is when we hit that, when we write something we’d pay good money to read. And if I ever make a living out of this, that’ll come into it, too.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Cal Innes, steeped in a full-on codeine jones, becomes a local hero when he saves a wee Asian lad from a house fire. Turns out the fire was arson, our man has to investigate it during the hottest summer on record, whilst trying to keep his habit under control, the press off his back, and himself out of the middle of a race riot. It’s my anti-issue book.
Who are you reading right now?
Jean-Patrick Manchette, The Prone Gunman. Chilly. And James Ellroy, American Tabloid. Sweeping.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
I’ll use Russel MacLean’s – Dirty, hard and fast. Yeah, that about sums it up.
Ray Banks’ Donkey Punch is available anywhere they appreciate good books.
“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.