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 so many of them--anything by Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, especially THE BIG SLEEP, or Ross MacDonald. They were really the inspiration for writing SWANN’S LAST SONG. And maybe an unlikely candidate, DESPERADOES, by Ron Hansen, about the James, Dalton and Younger gangs.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
I try to think of myself as a fictional character, it gets me through the day – and night. But if pressed, I suppose it would have to be one of those detectives, like Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe, who always seemed to know what they were doing, even if they didn’t know why.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Well, I don’t think of reading anything as doing something guilty. We all do enough guilty things during the course of a day. I actually think of reading anything today, with all the diversions there are – the internet, TV, movies – as virtuous. But I guess I’d have to say the New York Post, a tabloid here in America, especially Page 6, the gossip page.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Getting a book published, especially one like SWANN, which I first wrote nearly thirty years ago. But I’ve got other unpublished manuscripts in my drawer and getting one of them published would certainly be a satisfying moment.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I could probably google myself to death to come up with what I’d consider the best Irish crime novel, but then I’d be guilty of lying, so I’m going to tell the truth and unmask myself as a terrible impostor because I read very little crime fiction, though I’ll see every crime movie ever made.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Again, I’ll have to demur here. Besides, what great book ever makes a great movie?
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best thing: you don’t have to go out when the weather’s inclement. Worst thing: having to actually write.
The pitch for your next book is …?
I’m planning a sequel to SWANN, where’s he’s gotten out of the business and become a cable TV installer, but is dragged back into “the game”, and becomes involved in the stealing of and selling of rare books.
Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading a book of short stories by Bruce Jay Friedman called THREE BALCONIES, and a non-fiction book by Jerome Groopman, called HOW DOCTORS THINK, as well as trying to catch up with a bunch of New Yorker magazines lying around. I’m an inveterate magazine reader.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. Hands down. It would be a way to avoid writing, which every writer worth his or her salt wants to do.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …
Varied. Conversational. Character-driven.
Charles Salzberg’s SWANN’S LAST SONG is published by Five Star.
“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.