“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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

With Dark Joy, The Madness

The tiny but perfectly formed feedback to the post below suggests that folks aren’t all that optimistic about the short-term future for books, and particularly sales, but I don’t know. I think bad times can produce more great books than good times ever will. As the Chinese proverb-curse goes, ‘May you live in interesting times …’
  Anyhoo, I’m going to end the year on a up-beat note, for – lo! – I got good news last week regarding a project I’ve thinking about for quite a while now. The idea is for a book of essays, interviews and conversations about various aspects of Irish crime fiction, each chapter being written by an Irish crime writer. The names already confirmed include – although this may be subject to change – Colin Bateman, Gerard Brennan, Ken Bruen, Paul Charles, John Connolly, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Reed Farrel Coleman, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Gene Kerrigan, Brian McGilloway, Adrian McKinty and Neville Thompson. Messers, sorry, Messrs McKinty and Brennan are also on board as editors. Some of the writers’ chapters have yet to be confirmed, but the proposed material that has been is, in my entirely biased opinion, seriously interesting stuff.
  Anyway, the good news is that the project has been given the green light by the Arts Council with regard to commissioning funding, which means that we can afford to pay the writers a token gesture, at least. That means we’re over the second hurdle, and there’s only about 198 left to clear.
  The only downside at the moment is that there’s so few women on board. I have approached a few, but they’ve all been too busy to commit, unfortunately; and I’m still waiting to hear back from a few more. Hopefully the finished product won’t be entirely drenched in testosterone.
  Anyway, if the sound of this beeps even your smallest jeep, don’t be shy about letting us know or spreading the word. Oh, and feel free to suggest a title. I was thinking about using “WITH DARK JOY, THE MADNESS”, which is from a line in Liam O’Flaherty’s THE ASSASSIN. But I don’t know, it doesn’t sit right. Any ideas?

15 comments:

seanag said...

That's great news, Declan, and I love the title as a title--though I guess you'd have to ask the authors whether it sits right with them or no.

I also wanted to say that I am not at all pessimistic about great writing coming out of the period ahead. I just think that you can't count on the economy to get people reading who haven't been accustomed to it as part of their daily lives. It doesn't mean that there aren't ways to get people excited about books. For example, we have this phenomenon called 'Oprah' over here on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps you've heard of it?

But, more seriously,I don't think that a few less options for distractions and entertainment are going to be bad for the gadabout writer types at all.

And for the record, I don't think the overextended behemoths of the publishing industry are going to be the way of the future either.

Corey Wilde said...

Glad tidings, merry gentleman! That's a book I'd like to read. And depending on what comes from the content, that may be a most appropriate title.

Declan Burke said...

I wasn't suggesting you were dissing the quality of the books, Seanag - I agree with you in that there'll be better books, but less people reading them. If you're not in the habit of reading, the economy isn't going to make a difference - you'll just watch more TV.

And Oprah-style book-club recommendations aren't the answer either. Great for individual authors / publishers, but I'd be sceptical about the knock-on effect, especially for the army of writers scrabbling around trying to make a go of it (ie, me). And what the hell is wrong with people that they need to be told what to read, anyway?

I'm just going to hold my breath for the next couple of years, until the cycle turns again, and keep writing. Maybe you're right, it'll help gadabout writers focus on writig ...!

Corey? If you want to read that book, go ahead and write it.

Cheers, Dec

col2910 said...

Celtic-CSI..Celtic - Crime Spleen Investigated

Corey Wilde said...

I'm no writer, Dec, strictly a reader. I leave these things in your more capable and talented hands.

marco said...

The title sounds good to me (not CSI, With Dark Joy).

Dana King said...

Finally, some good writing news. Congratulations, Dec.

I think the title is fine, but if you're still looking, what about "A Tiger by The Tail: Irish Crime Fiction After the Boom."

Patricia J. Hale said...

Great idea!

Hey, Dec, you know you aren't getting update in Crimespot.net? I miss seeing you on it. Can you pay him off or something? That's the way we do it here in Chicago.

seanag said...

And Oprah-style book-club recommendations aren't the answer either. Great for individual authors / publishers, but I'd be sceptical about the knock-on effect, especially for the army of writers scrabbling around trying to make a go of it (ie, me). And what the hell is wrong with people that they need to be told what to read, anyway?

No, I'm not an Oprah worshipper myself, though I must admit that she hasn't hurt book sales either.Which is kind of counterintuitive for a talk show maven. I just use her as an example of how the force of personality can generate excitement about books. (Maybe we need to get her going on an Irish crime writing binge. That'll change your tune sharp enough.)

It's funny that it's only in the process of talking about this here that I've seen Oprah in a different light. I too would previously have asked, "Why are people such sheep?" And that's not entirely quelled, by the way. But I also now see that the Oprah phenomenon is just the way it works for most people, writ large.

I'd be willing to bet that most people reading this blog are readers, and have long since learned how to seek out what they want as far as books go. But I bet most of us have also had the experience of having books pressed upon us by some enthusiast, and really even regardless of whether we liked the book or even read it, it generated an excitement that made us hungry for more. And also gave us the keys to this particular kingdom.

v word=decoli:What you do to produce to make sure it's really safe to eat.

Declan Burke said...

Heh, 'Crime Spleen Investigated' ... me likey.

Dana? You might be on to something there ...

Seanag - there's nothing more guaranteed to turn me off a book than someone being excessively enthusiastic about it ... I don't know why. It's perverse, but there it is.

Cheers, Dec

Peter Rozovsky said...

Congratulations on the good news about the project. My only caveat about that title is that it might sound a bit more academic than you'd like.

V-word is the subject of a movie adventure: psiden
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

seanag said...

I do understand what you mean about being turned off by the excessive enthusiasm, and frankly I can't imagine that Oprah would have much sway with you. I do think that it's a question of style or form or something though. I don't believe that there aren't people who frequent this very blog that you wouldn't find persuasive. The common element is persuasion, not the way it's delivered.

Declan Burke said...

You may have a point, Peter ... the book certainly won't be academic in tone.

As for the 'persuasion' and how it's delivered, you may be right, Seanag ... but I can be bloody-minded about such things. Plus, if someone is getting rave reviews all over the place, my instinct is to think that they're doing alright, they don't need me to read them ... I'll go and read someone who isn't getting the publicity they deserve. Which doesn't make a lot of sense, given that this blog is all about promoing writers ... But there you have it.

Cheers, Dec

Gerard Brennan said...

Actually, on that note (rave reviews), I can understand where you're coming from, Dec. It'd be my initial instinct too. The unofficial CSNI policy gives preference to NI crime writers (from, residing or writing about) first, all Irish crime writers as a very close second, then whatever tickles my fancy. McFetridge is an good example. I interviewed him because I read about him on your blog. Now I'm reading his book, it's mega, chances are I'll be writing about him on CSNI in the new year.

I reviewed Volk's Game because the protagonist reminded me a little of McKinty's Forsythe. I reviewed Quiver because in a lead up post to the reivew I got to mention The Big O in reference to the writer's da.

But I might review the odd big title next year simply for googling purposes.

I'm gonna shut up now. I suspect I'm losing the point here.

gb

seanag said...

I expect we're talking at cross purposes here, because I'm not talking about buying into big titles. And as a bookseller, I tend to have my own shut down point when it comes to best sellers. I still don't think we just come into the world as readers, though. Something has to happen that persuades us of the importance of what in many ways is a most impractical pastime. And I do think that that usually comes from someone else's enthusiasm. It doesn't mean you never find anything on your own. It just means that finding something on your own has some relation to the antecedent readers in your life.

Okay, I'll shut up now. I don't mean to keep beating a dead horse, especially since it's not even remotely related to your topic here.