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?
I don’t know exactly. I suppose something by Elmore Leonard or Joseph Wambaugh. They have this brilliant ability to tell the crime story but to combine it with such humour and pathos without being clichéd in any way. I had thought maybe something by James Ellroy but I don’t want to think about that man’s mind. It scares me.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Football biographies. Ex-players, ex-managers etc. I like the way that no matter who the ghost-writer is he makes the footballer sound exactly like every other footballer. Especially when he’s trying to make him sound different. Other than that I’ll read anything really. Apart from chick-lit or any kind of romantic fiction.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Finishing the first draft of THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX PARK. Writing a blog is easy because you only do 500 or a 1000 words on any post. There doesn’t have to be continuity, there’s no need for fact checking, you don’t have to go back and figure out what someone said in chapter 4 to see if it makes sense compared to what you’ve just made them say, it can be random and pointless. Unless you’re Dan Brown, writing a book is very different. The first draft was finished on a Friday. I’d set that day as the deadline and I knew the story was coming to an end. I think I drank about 5 pots of coffee that day but because you know you’re on the finishing straight you can just keep going. I even wrote ‘The End’. Even though with all the editing and further drafts it was nowhere near. It was a nice moment though.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
THE THIRD POLICEMAN by Flann O’Brien. A piece of surreal genius.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
It’s hard to say. It’d be nice if it were something that was typically Irish and could be filmed here. You’d look at the John Connolly books in terms of their stories but the setting is the USA. Oh, wait, isn’t this the question where everyone answers ‘Mine!’? It would be nice to see some film companies take a chance with Irish books though. There are some excellent stories and characters out there, I suppose it just means someone taking a bit of a risk.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best - working on your own schedule, mostly, multiple coffee breaks, knowing that in some very small way you’ve left your mark on the world. I like the idea of somebody finding my book in old old cardboard box, years after I’m dead, and sitting down and enjoying it. Or thinking ‘Man, this is terrible. I think I’ll write a book. If this fucker can do it anyone can!’. Either way works for me. Worst - being easily distracted, that bit in the middle of the book where you’re completely stuck and filled with self-doubt, hangovers.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Twenty and Jimmy the Bollix owe a favour to somebody. At the end of the first book a meeting is set up. The second book deals with this meeting with a Dublin gangster who is calling in his marker. After that I kind of know where it’s going but I don’t want to say too much at the moment. It will mean a trip outside Dublin, to sunnier climes. And I don’t mean Brittas Bay. Basically they’ll be asked to do something that will prove very hard to do for all kinds of reasons. It may not be 100% crime based but there’ll certainly be a lot of petty crime in it.
Who are you reading right now?
Elmore Leonard – UP IN HONEY’S ROOM. Koji Suzuki’s ‘Ring’ series. Boris Starling – VISIBILITY.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Absolutely fucking ludicrous.
Twenty Major’s THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX PARK is published by Hodder Headline Ireland.
“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.