Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

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.