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?
Jack’s Return Home by Ted Lewis, re-issued in connection with the Michael Caine movie as Get Carter. “Hard-boiled” doesn’t even begin to tell the story. The main character is tough to the bone, the dialogue is chillingly understated, and the bleak atmosphere is perfectly rendered. It’s been called the best thriller ever written, and I agree.
What do you read for guilty pleasures?
My guiltiest pleasure read last year was Men’s Adventure Magazines, a history of men’s adventure magazines in post-war America. It mostly consists of covers and illustrations from the ultra-lurid mags that I used to inhale as a boy: sweating adventurers being attacked by locusts as big-breasted women in skimpy, often torn, garments swoon nearby; gutsy American soldiers gunning down Nazis while big-breasted women in skimpy, often torn, garments swoon nearby; blood-covered pirates repelling boarders while big-breasted … (well, you know).
Most satisfying writing moment?
Getting an e-mail on my PDA saying J.T. Lindroos at Point Blank Press would accept my novel Pay Here for publication. This after writing six novels, having three of them agented, and having none of them sell. I love the Point Blank Press writers – Ray Banks, Allan Guthrie, Duane Swierczynski, and all the others – and it was humbling and thrilling to know I would be joining that select group. Second-most satisfying moment: Walking into The Poisoned Pen Mystery Bookstore in my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona, and seeing a big, lovely display of about 20 hardcovers of Pay Here.
The best Irish crime novel is. . .?
It’s hard to beat The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen. But I’m also a big fan of Dublin by Sean Moncrieff. Divorcing Jack by Colin Bateman is also great fun.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I think Dublin would suit the big screen just fine. It’s got action, drugs and intrigue. Colin Farrell could play the lead, but he would have to develop a pot belly. Don’t know if he’s willing to do that.
Worst/best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing about being a writer is waiting for years (sometimes many years) for the pay-off (the emotional pay-off, that is. Where’s the money in this game?). The best thing is the process, just going into the trance of writing and solving the storytelling problems. Christ, it’s fun!
The pitch for your next novel is. . .?
Old murders die hard. No one knows that better than crime reporter Michael Callan, who’s out to pin one on a friend.
Who are you reading right now?
Jason Starr, Ray Banks and Gil Brewer. Jason was up after me at my recent book signing at The Poisoned Pen, so I got him to sign his latest, The Follower. I’m reading that one and gobbling it up like candy, as I do with all of his books. I’m also reading Ray Banks’ Donkey Punch. Hard-nosed doesn’t get any better. The Vengeful Virgin by the late Gil Brewer is the selection for September to be read by our Hard-Boiled Discussion Group at the Poisoned Pen. Sexual obsession: love it.
The three best words to describe your own writing are. . ?
Too. Damn. Punchy.
Charles Kelly’s Pay Here is available at all good bookstores.
“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.