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?
I can’t honestly say that I read a lot of crime novels so this is a difficult question for me to answer. I watch a bit of crime on TV but mostly I can tell where the plot is going and it gets a little predictable. The last crime novel I read was a Harlan Coben one, TELL NO ONE, but I thought it had a disappointing and not very plausible ending. I didn’t particularly intend for THE SAME CLOTH to be a crime novel, it just came out that way. I think it’s more of a ‘journey’ novel but not in the travel journey sense. Is that a genre?
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Will in THE SUBTLE KNIFE (Philip Pullman). I love the notion of being able to enter a parallel universe. The idea that one small detail can change your whole destiny absolutely fascinates me and the concept of being able to switch between one reality and another at will is, to me, a true adventure.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t think any reading is guilty but some publications are just a sheer waste of time. Irish Property supplements did take up a lot of my ‘pleasurable’ reading but unfortunately they are now rather thin in terms of content. Occasionally I read ‘Buy and Sell’ which is absolutely fascinating and sometimes hilarious when you get to the small pieces of junk that people try and sell. More of that this year no doubt!
Most satisfying writing moment?
Definitely when I finished THE SAME CLOTH. I had no idea how I was going to tie all the subplots in together and the narrative is quite complex so I was very pleased when it all worked out to a plausible finale.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I am trying to be diplomatic here so it would have to be THE BIG O.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I’m not trying to be diplomatic here so I will say mine. Most people who have read THE SAME CLOTH say ‘that would make a great movie’ without any prompting and it does rely largely on a visual element. I think the fact that I have worked in property for a number of years and have been able to accurately enmesh houses into people’s lives has somehow struck a chord that would work very well on film.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing about being a writer is isolation. You have to motivate yourself constantly to keep going and this is okay when you get some sort of recognition but very difficult when you don’t. I have found it, so far, to be a very tough business to crack. I know that it can be a different experience for everyone but this has been mine to date. The best thing is the sense of achievement you get when you write something that you truly believe is good and flows well, although, in truth, this is short-lived satisfaction. Looking back on my work, particularly writing that I did some time ago, I always want to adjust/edit/improve it. To me, a piece is never finished, perfection is elusive, flawlessness is indefinable and writing so subjective that ultimately faultlessness is intangible. I am not sure if there is much of a ‘choice’ element when it comes to writing. If you are a writer then you need to write. It’s a creative part of you that will not go away. There is something indescribable that happens to you when that creative element of your personality is expressed. It’s a release, a freeing, an intellectual deliverance that is completely personal, your own and unshareable. That’s the good bit!
The pitch for your next book is …?
It is a mystery again, this time told with two voices, which I think will give me more scope than THE SAME CLOTH, which is told in the first person, present tense. The subject matter concerns a rich property fund manager and his dodgy past. I think it will be topical!
Who are you reading right now?
REDEMPTION FALLS by Joseph O’Connor and THE BIG O. I usually read two books at the same time and then read nothing but newspapers in-between!
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write for sure. I have probably covered this answer in the ‘best thing’ about writing above.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Succinct, gripping, reflective.
THE SAME CLOTH is Geraldine McMenamin’s debut novel.
“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.