Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
There are actually three – A FATAL INVERSION by Ruth Rendell / Barbara Vine – amazing plot and wonderful atmosphere; THE SHINING by Stephen King, not so much a plot more a way of death; and THE BUTCHER BOY by Patrick McCabe, which doesn’t usually figure in crime fiction lists, but does it for me in horror, sadness and a meditation on loss and pain.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
When I was a kid I was crazy about the books by the American writer, Mary O’Hara. So I would have loved to have been Ken McLaughlin, who grew up on a horse ranch in the Rocky Mountains, in Wyoming.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. For pleasure I read anything by Martin Amis, Nadine Gordimer, Philip Roth and J.M Coetzee.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Writing the synopsis for my first book, MARY, MARY, and knowing, even before I sent it to Treasa Coady of TownHouse, that I had a winner.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
You know, I don’t read crime novels since I started writing them … terrified I’d be so put off by their brilliance and never write another word. Best Irish novel? THE BUTCHER BOY [by Patrick McCabe] for the above reasons.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
For the above reason, I can’t really say, but three of my books – MARY, MARY, THE COURTSHIP GIFT and EAGER TO PLEASE – have all been optioned for film and TV and I think they’d all be great - with the right writer, director, cast of course.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best is being on your own in complete control of your own world, and the worst is pretty much the same.
The pitch for your next book is …?
The next book is a high-concept, international DAY OF THE JACKAL-type thriller – the inhabitants of an island off the southwest coast of Ireland discover when the last ferry of the day has left, that they are NOT on their own.
Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading HUMAN SMOKE by Nicholson Baker, which tells in extracts from newspapers, letters and biographies of the build-up in the late 1930s and early 1940s to the Final Solution. Stunning and terrifying.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I don’t believe in God, but if I did the God I would believe in would never make such a demand. Because that God would know that to be a writer, you have to be a reader …
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Powerful, vivid, unforgettable.
Julie Parsons’ I SAW YOU has just been published in paperback by Pan Books
“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. “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.