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?
Anything by Graham Greene – BRIGHTON ROCK perhaps, as it’s set in my home town, but even the books he classed as “entertainments” are beautifully written. I am in awe of his talent and versatility.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Jack Reacher. Tall, strong, fearless, morally certain and irresistible to women. It doesn’t get better than that.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
For the most part I think reading anything can be instructive, although I suppose Frederick Forsyth would fall into this category for me. The early books are very well-constructed thrillers, but his worldview doesn’t exactly coincide with mine, to put it mildly!
Most satisfying writing moment?
When Tif, my wonderful agent, rang me to say we’d had an offer from Preface. That was the moment when I realised I would be able to earn a living from writing. It was all the more gratifying because we were skint at the time, and because my editor, Rosie de Courcy, offered me the deal on the strength of my proposal for a very substantial rewrite. It was an incredible show of faith on her part.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I don’t feel I’ve read widely enough to comment fairly. I have Benjamin Black and Ken Bruen on my TBR pile, and after reading about Stuart Neville on your site I checked out the opening of THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST and thought it was excellent. And he’s not strictly a crime writer, but I think William Trevor is one of the finest writers alive.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Another question I have to dodge, I’m afraid! Often the books you most expect to translate to cinema prove to be a disappointment.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
It seems ungrateful even to contemplate the worst aspect of what’s always been my dream job, but I do miss the camaraderie of working amongst other people. Daytime TV is a poor substitute. The best part probably comes towards the end of the rewriting phase, when all the hard work is done and you’re just going over and over the manuscript, trimming it, making it tighter and better with each pass.
The pitch for your next book is …?
“DIE HARD on Sandbanks.” And as someone who’s always had trouble reducing my ideas to a snappy one-sentence pitch, I’m pleased that I’ve finally been able to do so with this book. The provisional title is TERROR’S REACH, about a criminal gang who take control of an exclusive island off the Sussex coast, intent on much more than just robbery.
Who are you reading right now?
Gregg Hurwitz, Adrian Magson, Brett Battles and I’m also re-reading John Sandford’s fabulous “Prey” series.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
That’s not a deity I could believe in. But I’d have to choose reading, as so much of the desire to write springs from the thrill of reading.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Fast, thrilling, satisfying – I hope. It’s for others to say whether I succeed.
Tom Bale’s SKIN AND BONES is published by Preface.
“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.