“And now / The end is near / In point of fact / It’s receding into the distance …” Yep, ye olde proofe-edite on the sequel to THE BIG O is done and dusted, and I can finally put away that hammer I was using to batter myself towards the desk of a morning recently. Seriously, there’s nothing like re-reading a punchline for the eleventh time to remind you of how unfunny it was the first time.
Still, all things considered, I’m not entirely disgusted by the story. It was fun to write, and I got to take multiple road-trips across Europe with the crew from THE BIG O before fetching up in the Greek islands for some mayhem. Hey, if you can’t get to take your annual holiday in the Greek islands on account of you’ve a little girl to worry about these days, writing a story set there is the next best thing.
Of course, now the fun really starts. With the sequel out of the way, I can take a few months off and not worry about writing anything at all, other than the occasional review and blog post. Right? Erm, not quite …
What is it about this disease that has you spinning a whole new set of lies in your head barely hours after you’ve put the old lies to bed? It’s not that it won’t be fun, but when you know how long, arduous and painstaking the process will be if you’re to get it right – because it never winds up on the page the way you see it in your head – you’d need to be some kind of self-destructive masochist to want to leap back into that abyss, the better to hit rock-bottom and start crawling upwards towards the light again.
The temptation? That this time, oh yes, this time, you’ll finally get it right …
As Beckett once said, Fail, fail again, fail better.
Anyhoos, I have one question regarding the sequel to THE BIG O. I’d originally planned to call it THE BLUE ORANGE, as a nod to Wendy and Panos, the very friendly folk of The Orange Bar, who were incredibly hospitable when my brother and I spent a month on Ios a few years ago, and who brew the finest White Russian this side of Moscow. But during the process of writing the book, I thought it might be something of a jape to call the story CRIME ALWAYS PAYS. So now I’m a little torn, because I like both titles equally.
Folks? A little help?
“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.