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 never hanker to have written favourite books because I have too good a time reading them. In terms of the open-mouthed awe of realisation that the only appropriate attitude to what I’m reading is grateful humility, it would probably have to be Chandler, probably FAREWELL, MY LOVELY.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
A superhero. As a kid it would have been Spiderman. Then for a while maybe Daredevil, minus the blindness. At the moment, probably Jack Hawksmoor from THE AUTHORITY, by Warren Ellis.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Enid Blyton. Particularly the FAR-AWAY TREE books.
Most satisfying writing moment?
The last full stop. Are there any writers who don’t say that? I’m sure there are, but I can’t imagine ever giving any other answer.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
In an act of great impertinence I’m going to shove Flann O’Brien’s genre-bending THE THIRD POLICEMAN into the ‘Crime’ box, and award it this prize. Oh go on, let me – it has a murder, it has loquacious and philosophical police, it has a mystery, and it’s resoundingly excellent.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I can think of a few that might make great movies, but ‘would’ is a bit hopeful, given the duds-to-decent ratio of adaptations. Le Fanu’s UNCLE SILAS – another bit of genre-tendentiousness, maybe, but it is a mystery – has been filmed a couple of times, and I confess I’ve not yet seen either version, but I’d think it could be done brilliantly.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best: getting paid to fantasise and blather. It’s an insanely lucky situation. Worst: the dynamic towards self-importance and/or solipsism.
The pitch for your next book is …?
A murder mystery set in a city at the edge of Europe that turns out to be a lot stranger than it first appears.
Who are you reading right now?
Christopher Caudwell’s ILLUSION AND REALITY, and Cormac McCarthy’s SUTTREE.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. But God and I are going to have serious words.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
… readers’ to decide.
China Miéville’s THE CITY AND THE CITY is published on May 15
“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.