“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.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

No Sex, Please – We’re Irish Crime Writers

The great thing about these writers’ events is that you get to swank around for a few hours pretending that you’re a writer. And all the other writers play along. Which is nice of them, but then crime writers do tend to be a fairly friendly and generous bunch …
  Anyhoos, on Saturday morning – for the ‘Forty Shades of Grey: Real Fiction, Real Ireland’ panel, moderated by Mick Halpin, aka Critical Mick – I got to hang out with Ruth Dudley Edwards (right), Brian McGilloway, Gene Kerrigan and Arlene Hunt. All went well, with the conversation developing into something of a debate on journalism as the first draft of history versus crime fiction as its second, and the notion of social realism and truth / fact being mediated through fiction got a good airing too. And not only that, but Critical Mick did his best to give the gig a bit of added class by reciting some Louis MacNeice poetry relevant to crime fiction. Nice.
  After lunch, Declan Hughes interviewed John Connolly, during which John read from next year’s THE LOVERS, and chatted at length about THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. Which was pretty cool, because we don’t hear John Connolly – or indeed anyone else – talking enough about THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. It’s a stone-cold classic, and the good news is that there’s a rumour circulating that he may be gearing up for another non-crime standalone. If we hear anything, you’ll be the first to know …
  The afternoon panel was ‘Sex and Violence: How Far is Too Far?’, with John Connolly stepping in at the last minute to moderate Alex Barclay, Arlene Hunt, Brian McGilloway and yours truly. The content was a bit odd for me, given that I’d tried to write THE BIG O with an absolute minimum of violence, and I generally don’t write about sex at all (in fact, everyone on the panel dealt with violence, which forced John Connolly to read aloud a snippet about Charlie Parker’s trouble with socks and sex, a Homeric effort on his part given that his mother was in the audience). The questions basically centred on the extent to which crime fiction glamorises violence, with the general consensus being that writing violence is the means by which writers and readers strive to understand the kind of mind that will achieve what it wants regardless of others’ discomfort and pain, not an end in itself.
  The hard work (!) out of the way, yours truly headed for the pub for a dry sherry and a 2-0 win for Ireland over Georgia in the first World Cup qualifier, a fine result which set the tone for an evening’s blather about books in the company of fellow scribes Stuart Neville (right) and Shay Bagnall, and blogger extraordinaire Peter Rozovsky, who has just been nominated for a blogging award. Nice. Talking books with a drink in your hand – is there a finer way to waste a Saturday evening? If there is, I’m all ears. Although not just yet … yon hangover is just starting to kick in. Slainté.

10 comments:

maxine said...

Great post, Declan. I wish I could have been there, especially if I could have sat next to the mother!

Dana King said...

Good to see a reference to THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. I read it because I read everything Connolly writes. Fortunately I knew from his blog that it was unlike the Parker stories, or I would have had some pause early at the unexpected tone and subject matter. It's a wonderful book, and can be read on multiple levels. He's be to commended for having the huevos to do something so different in the midst of a still-growing career. His publisher deserves a shout out, too, for going with it.

Conduit said...

Declan Burke forced me to drink alcohol, and I'm telling the world that today's ill health is entirely his fault!

Declan Burke said...

What's sad, Dana, is the fact that Connolly has books in him like TBOLT, and yet the industry is set up to discourage one-off treasures like that ... Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Stuart? I only forced you to drink the first one, squire ...

Maxine, I don't think I've ever seen John Connolly with a reddener on him before ...

Cheers, Dec

Peter Rozovsky said...

Shite, that stuff was sherry?

Anonymous said...

Great day Declan, and so nice to meet up with so many scribes. And yes, John actually flushed to the tips of his ears.

Arlene xx

Brian McGilloway said...

...Especially when one of the audience asked him to read the sex scene slower!

crimeficreader said...

"Especially when one of the audience asked him to read the sex scene slower!"
I had a LOL moment reading that comment!

Anonymous said...

Hah. True!

Arlene.

Declan Burke said...

Was terrific to finally meet you, Arlene, and to share a stage ... And don't forget to plug the bejaysus out of your new book the next time you're here. When's it out, next week?

Incidentally, the guy who asked John to read the sex scene slower also congratulated all the writers concerned for writing crime fiction, on the basis that the crime genre is playing its part in upholding 'the Judaeo-Christian tradition'. Which was nice ...

Cheers, Dec