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 POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE – brief, violent but very credible and I just love the sense of divine justice in that tale. You can empathise with the characters deeply despite their actions and you realise that when it comes to human emotions, searching for textbook ‘motives’ in crime is redundant.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
With time in such short supply I tend to choose books carefully and either decide to see them through or drop them quickly if I’m not interested. I used to read a lot of Stephen King for guilty pleasures, does he count? Apart from that I’d whiz through a copy of whatever celeb gossip magazine is on the shelf while waiting at the till, then scoff at the whole notion of celebrity.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Just getting published is enough … I think. Then you realise it’s only the start. That you then have to go out and hound everyone and everything to ensure it gets attention, on the shelf, in the papers, etc. So actually, I’m still waiting for that real moment of satisfaction.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Here’s where my ignorance of crime writing shows. I am not the most avid of crime fiction readers and have skimmed the classics. But I do intend picking up Declan Hughes’ THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD. I saw he won a prize for crime writing at a convention in Anchorage Alaska. I stayed there for one very weird night a few years ago on my way to Skagway and I just think I should read it. It’s got rave reviews.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
See above for that answer. I’m not familiar enough. Although I do recall reading Joseph O’Connor’s THE SALESMAN many years back and it read like a movie script – bang, bang, bang. Often wonder why that was never taken up. Revenge is motive that writers see through to the end in books because it’s such a strong one. O’Connor had the courage to pull back, which is what struck me at the time.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The self-pity, the selfishness. You expect people in your circle to be as besotted with your work as you are. They fail to understand that your writing is an obsession and that when you put your foot on the floor in the morning it’s the first thought that enters your head. How can they and why should they care? There is no switching off for a writer. It’s a life sentence and you’re on your own with it.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
I haven’t come to it yet as I’m still reworking two old ones. But I had been toying with a modern take on the Book of Job: a good man has it all taken from him by a God with a dark sense of humour. As he winds up on the shit-heap, he still maintains that life is good and God is great. The Fisher King had a stab at that notion but went a bid wobbly. I still think it modern society there is room for such a tale. I’d be tempted to be more of a Karamazov than a Job though.
Who are you reading right now?
Just finished A MIGHTY HEART by Marianne Pearl. It was repackaged for the European movie release and is a heart-wrenching read and something of a guilty one also. You know the outcome but are still gripped by the drama in the story. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m not sure whether I want to witness Angelina Jolie look exasperated for 90-odd minutes. Why they couldn’t find an actress more suited to Marianne Pearl’s complexion is mind-boggling, rather than getting Jolie to don a wig and gallons of fake tan. I’m in the middle of Andrew Meir’s BLACK EARTH, about modern Russia – a brilliant read. And by the locker is Martin Amis’ HOUSE OF MEETINGS, which I’m looking forward to.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Almost getting there.
Tom Galvin’s THERE’S AN EGG IN MY SOUP 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. “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.