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 an easy one for me, assuming I can get away with a thriller: GREEN RIVER RISING by Tim Willocks. I love everything about that book, from the set-up to the characters and the journey they go on. From about the fifth chapter to the last, it’s almost non-stop action and violence, and yet it also creates a really powerful emotional connection between the reader and the characters involved. It shows the best and worst of people in a setting that rapidly descends into hell, and it’s one of the few books I can read again and again. Superb stuff. Although, like most books I really admire, I tend to think ‘there’s no way on earth I could ever have written that’.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t really have anyone for this, mainly because I’ll read anything I think looks good and I never feel guilty about it. If there’s pleasure from reading, there shouldn’t ever be guilt. The closest I can come is really trashy horror: stuff like Rex Miller’s SLOB, or Edward Lee’s BIGHEAD, or even some of Richard Laymon’s stuff. Books where the violence is almost pornographic, but you keep reading either despite or because of that. I don’t feel guilty about it though.
Most satisfying writing moment?
When I realised I could write full-time. I was working for a research group at Leeds University for several years, but I was temp staff and eventually the funding ran out and I got made redundant. I took a small pay-off and just thought ‘I’ll write for a couple of months, then get something else’, and a week later I sold some foreign rights which meant I could keep going. It won’t last forever but in the meantime it’s changed my life and means I can do what I always dreamed of. Nothing could really be better.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
This is where you have to get the rubber hose out, because I haven’t got a clue. I never pay attention to nationalities of writers. They’re all just books to me. I may have read hundreds of Irish crime novels without even realising. But assuming I can get away with an Irish writer, I guess it would be John Connolly’s EVERY DEAD THING. But, as I just said, it might not be. Actually, stretching the definition to absolute breaking point, it could be Dennis Lehane’s MYSTIC RIVER, but I know I’m pushing my luck there.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Well, I’ve always thought John Connolly’s EVERY DEAD THING would look pretty good on the big screen ... (cough).
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best thing for me is being able to do something I love, especially on the days when it’s all going well. There’s not much that can compare with being paid to do something you’d do anyway, especially when so many people hate their day jobs. In that light, ‘worst’ doesn’t really figure, although I guess you could say writing is sometimes really, really difficult, but not in a way you can complain about. I can’t say to my friends “work is really stressful at the moment”, because they’d just say “you sit at home and imagine stuff – shut up”. Or maybe the answer to both questions is the weird moment when you first see your book in a shop. You think ‘wow!’. And then you see the sixty thousand books crowded around it and think ‘hmmm’...
The pitch for your next novel is …?
The next one is out in May, and it’s called CRY FOR HELP. The book’s about a guy who doesn’t kill people, but ties them up in their homes and leaves them to die of dehydration, then taunts the friends and families who didn’t care enough to check up on them. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say much. But it involves conjuring, drug dealers, psychic debunkers, extreme violence, love, ex-love, mobile phones, guns, more extreme violence, and then the twists start.
Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading John Rickards’ latest, BURIAL GROUND, at the moment (which is great so far), and looking forward to crime novels by Kevin Wignall, R. J. Ellory and John Connor, and also some sci-fi from Richard Morgan and Simon Logan. And I have Ken Bruen’s PRIEST to read, as well, which is one I do know is Irish.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Dark, cruel and emotional. Other people might not be so kind ...
Steve Mosby’s THE 50/50 KILLER has been short-listed for a Spinetingler Award.
“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.