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?
That’s easy – DEEP WATER by Patricia Highsmith. It’s pure perfection. Its slow, agonising depiction of psychological breakdown is superb. Highsmith is just amazing at doing psychopaths without being judgemental. She is my absolute favourite crime writer and she also had a pretty interesting life too. Those two things don’t always go together.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Biographies and autobiographies. Sounds boring? Not at all – I’m endlessly nosy about other people’s lives. Also, I don’t always like reading fiction when I’m writing it, so they are a great diversion.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Finishing my first novel, THE REUNION. I remember the moment very well. I was onto my fourth re-write and I was tinkering with the ending. When I finished the last paragraph, I literally slumped back in my chair and shouted out, ‘I’ve done it!’
The best Irish crime novel is …?
John Connelly’s Charlie Parker novels are superbly written. And, it might be a bit cheeky, but I’d also like to make a plea to include Joseph O’Connor’s STAR OF THE SEA within the ‘crime’ or ‘thriller’ genre. It’s a brilliant novel that certainly reads like thriller. I think the genre is stretching out so far these days anyway. Lots of crime writers are producing work that is expanding the boundaries of so-called ‘crime’ and there are authors from other genres coming into crime writing. I think all of that is an excellent thing for writing in general and for the genre in particular. For my part, you won’t meet any police officers in my novels or stacks of dead bodies, nor will you have any details of forensics, DNA or the like. None of that interests me as a writer. My novels are more about the darkness within people and their lies and deceptions. Much more scary, I think.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best is playing God. There is no worst – it’s a great job!
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Journalist Rowan Shaw moves from London to Edinburgh with her new husband. He has bought them a beautiful house near to where he lived as a child. But she discovers that the house has a dark past. He knew this but never told her. Soon Rowan is using her journalist skills to investigate her own husband …
Who are you reading right now?
Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA. I read it every year – and it’s time for my annual fix. I’m also reading the autobiography of former American diplomat Joseph Wilson who was involved in a big row with the White house over the Iraq/WMD issue. I’m really into politics – especially scandals and controversies (more lies and deceptions!). I’d have loved to have been working at the Washington Post during the time of Watergate.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Dark. Dark. Dark.
Sue Walker’s THE DEAD POOL is published by Michael Joseph / Penguin.
“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.