“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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

“One Merkin Or Two, Vicar?” Yep, It’s The Allan Guthrie Interview

Allan Guthrie (right) has already filled in a Q&A for CAP, but the bloke has a new book out and he’s my agent, and he says he’ll send Ray Banks around to eat my child if I don’t give him the three molecules of publicity oxegyn CAP provides. Ah, the glamour of it all ...

Q: The new novel is SLAMMER, squire. Tell us a little bit about it.
A: “The book’s about a very young prison officer, Nick Glass, who’s not terribly well equipped, psychologically, to handle the stresses of the job. It’s about his struggle to survive in an increasingly hostile environment.”

Q: What was it about a prison guard that drew you to him as a character?
A: “I was intrigued by the idea of exploring the psychology of someone who chooses to spend a significant chunk of their short time on this planet behind bars.”

Q: You’re obviously a terrific writer. How come you’re wasting your time on that crime fiction trash?
A: “Well, much as I’d love to write something earnest and meaningful that’s about as entertaining as counting grains of sand, I don’t seem to be quite agile enough to stick my head far enough up my own arse. So I’ll just stay with writing crime fiction trash for now. Hoping to come up with some SF or horror one of these days too.”

Q: Who were your big inspirations and / or heroes?
A: “Different at various points of my life -- Agatha Christie, for instance, when I was but a nipper. Currently I’d say I’m besotted by Andrew Kevin Walker, who wrote the screenplay for ‘Seven’ (among others), and the graphic novelist Garth Ennis.”

Q: If you could assume authorship for one writer’s back catalogue, who would it be?
A: “Tough one. Georges Simenon, I think. Either him or Germaine Greer.”

Q: You’ve won top awards, you’ve had wonderful reviews, and yet it’s only in a parallel universe that they’re calling John Grisham ‘the new Allan Guthrie’. Do you ever despair about the industry?
A: “Yes, indeed, but not because of my place in it. That’s one of them there variables that isn’t within a person’s control. What I despair about is the arse-backwards discounting that’s ripping the industry apart. Breaks my heart to see books that would sell in huge numbers without any price reduction invariably ending up being sold for a fraction of the RRP, thereby ensuring that no one (bookstores/publishers/agents/authors) makes any money. Whereas books that need the support that discounting might provide are usually on sale at full price. It’s a perverse situation. And then everybody complains about profit margins being tiny and the industry being in terminal decline. Um, hello?”

Q: Who’s the sexiest living crime writer?

A: “Easy one. Ray Banks. The man’s smile is legend. As are his testicles.”

Q: Any new novelists you’d like to let us know about?
A: “Besides my own clients (I’m a literary agent, which I’m going to guess you’ll mention in the next question), there are three second novels out soon which I think are outstanding: VERY MERCENARY by Rayo Casablanca, GUTTED by Tony Black and WINTERLAND by Alan Glynn.”

Q: Parallel to your writing career, you’re also an agent. Ever thought about bumping off a particularly good new writer and stealing his or her manuscript?
A: “Psychic, so I am. Yes, actually, that’s a good idea. So good that I’ve done it already. Five times, in fact.”

Q: Finally, are those eyelashes real? Or are there really kittens out there with bald faces?
A: “I breed them specially. The whisker-lashes don’t tend to last very long, so I need a constant supply of kitten-soft kitten. I have a production line going now, so I’m quite well stocked. Just say the word if you’d like a trial package sent your way. I also do a fine line in merkins.”

Allan Guthrie’s SLAMMER is published by Polygon

4 comments:

Tim Maleeny said...

Any interview that mentions legendary testicles and also a man's eyelashes is worth reading. Nice one...

Peter Rozovsky said...

Any interview that mentions merkins earns the interviewer a place in the world to come. Very nice one.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Keith Rawson said...

Al,
Quick question? (Yes, I'm all over these Irish crime blogs, and no I'm not stalking you.) Why is it that the large publishing houses only seem to get behind their well-established writer's (Doing things such as offering huge discounts on current hardbacks and what not.) as opposed to trying to build new "brand" names in their stable? I'm just not understanding why the publishers wouldn't want to get behind someone to build an audience for a new author as opposed to only putting their money and time into a writer they know will already move titles? It seems to me that the major houses are setting their new writer's up for failure by utilizing these pratices?

Al Guthrie said...

I'm sure many publishers would love to do just that, Keith. Certain bookstores, however, might not be so keen. Bear in mind, too, that there's the argument that the bigger the print run, the cheaper the production cost; hence the discount on offer can be huge without necessarily being a loss leader. Also it's worth noting that publishers can get absolutely murdered when it comes to returns -- any extra books they've printed which haven't sold in the promotions get sent back to the publisher unpaid (the book industry operates on a sale or return basis, which is unique, I think, in retail). Some smaller presses can't take the risk. Complex subject...