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?
OK, let’s establish some ground rules here, shall we? I write crime but I also write what gets described (for want of a better term) as “general comic fiction”. So my envy about other novels is fairly widespread and comprehensive. The novel I would most like to have written is THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD - not crime exactly, but there is a spine-tingling moment about ten pages in from the end, when you suddenly realise how comprehensively hoodwinked you have been - precisely what you try to achieve in a good detective story. If you want me to stick narrowly to crime, then I’d probably go for one of the classics from the Golden Age – THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, say. I also wish I had written THE GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM before Chris Ewan did. But, sadly, I didn’t.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh. There’s an on-line quiz you can do to establish which character from Winnie the Pooh you are. I was Rabbit. I know a number of other people who also did the quiz and proved to be Rabbit. We were all very happy with our choice; it’s the type of fictional character we are.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
At any given time I tend to have two metaphorical piles of books. One is the books I ought to be reading: crime novels I’ve been told I should read, books by people I know well and who’ve read my books, anything that might constitute “research” for a future novel. The other pile is everything else. Reading from one pile makes me feel slightly guiltier than reading from the other - but not much.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Typing “Chapter One” (or more usually, in my case, “Prologue”).
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Other than your own, of course ... GALLOWS LANE by Brian McGilloway.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Logically the answer should be as above, and I’m sure it would make an excellent film or TV series. I’d also like to see one of Ruth Dudley Edward’s novels made into a film, though.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Most things about being a writer are pretty good, as you’ll know yourself. The best thing is the actual creative process - watching the book unfold in front of you is a bit magical. Also, as a writer of comic crime, it always comes as a pleasant surprise that something you wrote and found funny is something that other people have read and found funny. The worst? Possibly reviews that fail to convey the absolute sense of wonder and awe that you feel your book should command in any right-minded critic. (Yes, you really do get reviews like that occasionally. No, I couldn’t believe it either.)
The pitch for your next book is …?
My next book, after the paperback of THE HERRING SELLER’S APPRENTICE, is A VERY PERSISTENT ILLUSION (published in March), and the first thing I need to explain is that it isn’t crime. It’s black humour and it delves into the nature of reality, why people support Southend United and the importance of owning a classic sports car. But there is a mystery to solve and a point, about ten pages from the end, where hopefully you finally see what it was all about. For the one after that (TEN LITTLE HERRINGS - out in August) it’s back to a life of crime ...
Who are you reading right now?
It’s a book on the English Civil War from the non-guilt pile. At some stage soon I’d like to start writing a comic-historical-crime series set in the seventeenth century. There’s a real-life murder that I want to include, but I’m not going to be so foolish as to reveal which one at this stage. I’ve just finished DROWNED HOPES by Donald Westlake - a great writer sadly no longer with us.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
This is clearly a bum deal either way. I’d be straight onto the internet to see if any other deity was offering better terms.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
“Perky” (Financial Times) “Classic” (The Scotsman) “Subversive” (The Bookseller)
L.C. Tyler’s THE HERRING SELLER’S APPRENTICE is now available in paperback
“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.