A Minister for Propaganda Elf writes: It being April 16, and the anniversary of the first ever Crime Always Pays post, and the three-week anniversary of the arrival of Princess Lilyput (right), and only eight days after the two-year anniversary of the betrothal of Mr and Mrs Grand Vizier (and, sadly, the one-year anniversary of the death of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut), the Grand Viz would like to take this opportunity to emerge on to his entirely metaphorical balcony and address his incredibly loyal readership of three in an Urbi et Orbi-style orgy of sentimental reminiscing. To wit:
“It’s been a strange and wonderful year, people. As all three regular readers will know, Crime Always Pays came into being last April in order to promote (a) Irish crime fiction, (b) THE BIG O, and (c) the monstrous ego of CAP’s Grand Vizier, Declan Burke.
“On the Irish crime fiction front, we believed there was that there was a lot of talented people out there writing novels that were relevant to an Ireland that has undergone cataclysmic social and economic upheaval in the last decade or so. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a hell of a lot more than just ‘a lot’ of talented writers out there: it’s no exaggeration to say that Irish crime fiction can make a genuine claim to be a substantial sub-genre of the crime fiction genus.
“Meanwhile, once we hit the interweb highway, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were two on-line Irish crime fiction resources already available, Critical Mick and Cormac Millar, although the real shock to the system came when both proved incredibly generous with their time and space in helping Crime Always Pays get established as the – oh yes! – third most relevant Irish crime fiction web presence. Gentlemen, I thank ’ee kindly.
“In fact, the kindness of strangers has been the most satisfying aspect of the blogging year. From all corners of the globe, people have been unfailingly helpful, friendly and generous. It helps, of course, that Crime Always Pays is a crime fiction blog, and that the crime fiction family’s willingness to lend a hand seems inexhaustible. To everyone who visited, wrote, linked and lurked their way to giving CAP almost 55,000 page impressions in the last year, a heartfelt thank you from the Grand Vizier and the, ahem, tireless elves.
“As for THE BIG O, well, where do we start? Hmm, the start, you say? Cunning … Having sent THE BIG O to a selection of UK publishers, and received a selection of gracious rejections, the gist of which runneth ‘not commercial enough’, the Grand Vizier decided to bypass Irish publishing houses and self-publish the novel, simply as an exercise in learning the industry from the ground up. At this point, fate in the lovely form of Marsha Swan of Hag’s Head Press intervened. She suggested a co-publishing deal, on a 50-50 costs and profits arrangement, and THE BIG O was duly published in April, with a wonderful jacket design courtesy of Carly Schnur. With a promotion budget of precisely nil to work with, and lacking the power that bigger publishing houses can depend upon for reviews, blurbs and generally spreading the word, the Grand Vizier founded Crime Always Pays and got hustling. The rest, as they say, is history – i.e., a load of stuff no one really cares about anymore. Suffice to say that Stacia Decker, then of Harcourt, took pity on us, and signed THE BIG O on a two-book deal, the first of which will appear in all its hardback glory in August. The sequel, currently labouring under the unlikely working title of THE BLUE ORANGE, is already written and bursting with the literary equivalent of Vitamin C …
“Meanwhile, to all the reviewers, both in print and on-line, who took the time to read and then write about THE BIG O, we are, and will remain, hugely grateful – unfortunately, we’re delighted to be able to say, there were too many to name individually, but you all know who you are. To the writers we persecuted for blurbs until they uncled and signed their names to the big-ups we’d pre-written for them, may you all wake up tomorrow morning to discover that the scribbling elves were in and finished your current novel while you were sleeping. And to everyone who parted with their hard-earned money to buy THE BIG O, and then spent your precious reading time on it – never, ever, underestimate what that might mean to an aspiring writer. God bless you, everyone …
“Finally, a few special thank yous: to Claire Coughlan and Chico ‘Chicovich’ Morientes, for their help in keeping Crime Always Pays on the rails; to my agent, Jonathan Williams; Marsha Swan at Hag’s Head Press; Ken Bruen, as always a rock of support; John Connolly, for sneaking around and giving THE BIG O and EIGHTBALL BOOGIE the hup-ya to anyone who will listen, and refusing to take any credit for it; Charles Ardai for recommending THE BIG O to Harcourt; the ever-lovely Stacia Decker, ex-Harcourt, for believing in THE BIG O; Allan Guthrie, for his sage advice; and finally, and most importantly, to the ever-ravishing Mrs Grand Vizier, aka Aileen (right), for her constant support, strength and encouragement, particularly as she spent the latter half of 2007 and the first three months of 2008 pregnant with our impending arrival, Princess Lilyput, currently the Granny Smith of the Grand Vizier’s eye.
“As for the rest of 2008: it’s upward and onward, people, and spare not the horses, James …”
“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.