“As one or two of you may or may not have noticed, failed writer Declan Burke (right), embittered but still passable handsome, recently began publishing a novel, A GONZO NOIR, to this blog. Basically, the idea was that a character from a draft I’d written five years ago stepped out of the pages of the m/s and demanded a rewrite, as he – Karlsson – was trapped in limbo. It was an intriguing prospect, so I agreed. Unfortunately, the character – now calling himself Billy – decided that he needed at least a little autonomy when it came to deciding his fate.
“That’s understandable on one level, as Karlsson / Billy, who works as a hospital porter, is something of a sociopath who is being investigated by the cops because aging patients have begun to die in what appear to be ‘Angel of Mercy’ assisted deaths; furthermore, Billy is now plotting to blow up the hospital.
“Were I in his shoes, I too would want to believe that my fate wasn’t entirely in the hands of someone like me.
“On the other hand, collaboration doesn’t come easy to me in any walk of life, and writing especially appeals to me as a private, solitary business.
“What matters there is that Billy, as a character trapped in limbo, has nothing to lose. I, on the other hand, have a family and a young daughter, Lily, whom Aileen found in the garden shed after I’d had a dispute with Billy, this despite the fact that Lily is as yet unable to crawl.
“So you can appreciate that there are issues that will have to be dealt with. I’ve already tried burning the manuscript, only to discover that, as Billy put it, the genie is already out of the bottle. For now there is an uneasy détente between us, as I wait to see what it is he will contribute to the story. Given that Billy will be reading this, you can appreciate that I shouldn’t really say any more than that for now.
“There are, however, other issues, chief among them the technical aspect of revealing a story section-by-section. Serial instalments, of course, have a proud history, going all the way back to Homer and THE ILLIAD. Unfortunately, a blog doesn’t lend itself to the kind of seamless narrative that makes a story easy to read, as any reader who might come to the story as we go forward will need to go back in time in order to catch up. This is at best inelegant and at worst pointless, as most interweb surfers will simply not bother to click the relevant link.
“So here’s what I’m proposing to do. Instead of uploading the novel section by section to Crime Always Pays, I’m thinking of uploading the story to a separate blog so that it reads the way a narrative should. As we are still redrafting as we go along, this means the story will be incomplete and a little rough around the edges, to put it mildly – in fact, it’s the writing equivalent of washing your dirty laundry in public.
“From a reader’s point of view, however, a separate blog means the story can be read in a linear fashion and be more easily digestible than the way it is being uploaded here. And, as I’m a reader before I’m a writer, and always will, the idea appeals.
“So, dear readers – all three of you – what say you? Yay or nay to A GONZO NOIR on a separate blog in a linear fashion that allows you to simply scroll down to the latest instalment?”
“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. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.