I mentioned during the week that I’d be chairing a discussion in the Spoken Word tent at the Electric Picnic. Easy money, right? Not only would I get to share a stage with writers of the quality of Julie Parsons (right), Declan Hughes and Brian McGilloway, we’d be spraffing about Irish crime fiction. How could it possibly go wrong? Well, it’s like this …
The fatal boo-boo Julie, Declan and Brian made was allowing the Yogi Bear-style Grand Viz drive from Dublin down to the picinick at Stradbally. Generally a reliable sort behind the wheel, the Grand Viz somehow managed to miss the motorway turn-off for the Electric Picnic and get us all lost somewhere in Kildare. With time ticking away, many and desperate were the calls made to the gig organiser, the unflappable Cormac Kinsella. Happily, the radio-waves were thick with the phrases, ‘Not a problem’, ‘It’ll be grand’, and ‘No bother’.
Anyhoos, we finally stumbled on-stage about 15 minutes late, only to discover there were three mikes for the four of us. Undeterred, we ploughed on, and the trio kicked off with superb readings – Julie from I SAW YOU, Declan from THE DYING BREED, and Brian from BORDERLANDS (he’d planned to read from his latest novel, GALLOWS LANE, but with typical generosity had given his copy away earlier in the day).
Then the discussion began, just at the point when a guy decided to have a baby on the stage next door. Amazingly, and despite the unique attraction in the vicinity, the Spoken Word tent filled up, and the audience were – given our tardy arrival and the horrific screams wafting in from next door to drown out practically every word said – surprisingly generous, loud and warm in their applause.
It’s a glamorous lark and no mistake, this writing life.
Every cloud has its silver lining, though, and after the gig a glamorous blonde stepped forward from the audience to say that she’d found the discussion fascinating, and that she’d really enjoyed it. What was nice about that, apart from the glamorous blonde bit, was that she just so happens to be the lady I’ve been dealing with at the Arts Council, which august body may or may not be funding a project currently under consideration.
Said project is – clumsy working title alert! – ‘a history of Irish crime fiction’, to be written by Irish crime writers such as John Connolly, Declan Hughes, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Colin Bateman, et al, each writing a chapter according to their own speciality, with yours truly, Adrian McKinty and Gerard Brennan sharing the editing duties. It’s still but a twinkle in our collective eye, but there’s a lot of enthusiasm and potential synergy out there, so here’s hoping it’ll get off the ground. Stay tuned for further details …
Next weekend it’s the Books 2008 Irish crime writing series, but right now it’s Sunday morning and the Princess Lilyput’s big day (right). Thanks to everyone who left comments on the Bell’s palsy post yesterday, by the way … If the events of yesterday didn’t explode it into a full-blown stroke, nothing will. Peace, out.
Praise for Declan Burke: “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – The Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “A hardboiled delight.” – The Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review). “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre, was ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL.” – Sunday Times. “The writing is a joy.” – Ken Bruen. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.