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?
The answer’s got to be THE LONG GOODBYE. Other top choices would be THE GRIFTERS or MONA, aka GRIFTER’S GAME, by Lawrence Block.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I read a lot of non-fiction for the classes I teach, so sometimes it feels like the crime I read is my guilty pleasure. But lately I’m reading Denis Johnson when I feel like I’m supposed to be reading more crime novels. So Denis Johnson, I guess. He, Junot Diaz, and Ray Carver are still my favourite writers.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Without a doubt, my most satisfying writing moments have come on the days when I’ve finished the first draft of a novel. Those are the only days where I feel like, Damn, I need to go out and celebrate. Usually I take myself out to lunch. Once revision starts, nothing ever feels finished. Also, the day Jeremy Robinson agreed to publish JACK WAKES UP on his Breakneck Books label. I’m already getting excited about this coming Palm(s) Sunday, March 16th, the day it comes out. That’ll be pretty satisfying.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Ummm ... this is where I confess as to how woefully unread I am on Irish crime writers. Ken Bruen’s on the shelf close to my bed, and Al Guthrie tells me great things about THE BIG O. Seriously. But my favourite Irish writer has got to be Frank O’Connor. His THE LONELY VOICE is the best book about writing I’ve read. Period.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst? Sometimes just having to stick to your guns, wait out the world, and hope that everything will work out. Sometimes the hope is all there is. Best? The days I finish writing and don’t feel like there’s more to do, the days I actually feel good enough about how everything’s going that I get out and take the dog for a good walk in the sun. Those times, those are the gold. But I guess that’s more about the “having written” than about the writing. Best thing about the writing? Getting lost in it and totally pulled into the story I’m creating. This, when this happens and the story actually comes along and surprises me ... those moments are awesome!
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Jack Palms is back in San Francisco and an SF cop just got killed. When a few young Russian sex slaves start turning up dead, Jack has to find the connection and stop who’s responsible before any more girls--or cops!--get bumped off.
Who are you reading right now?
Denis Johnson’s TREE OF SMOKE, Cornell Woolrich, and whatever I get in the mail from Hard Case Crime.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Talk, act, shoot.
Seth Harwood’s JACK WAKES UP will be published in March 2008.
“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.