“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.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Embiggened O # 2,309: Yep, It’s Self-Aggrandizing Saturday

The ever-radiant Angela Wilson over at Book Addict at Pop Syndicate was kind enough to interview your humble host about THE BIG O and sundry other matters, said chat opening up thusly:
Declan, tell us about your latest, THE BIG O.

  “Well, it’s set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and it’s about this evil empire … Oh, hold on – that’s what I’m working on now. THE BIG O is a heist-gone-wrong story, heavily influenced by some of my favourite writers and movie-makers: Elmore Leonard and the Coen Brothers (although, naturally, I make no claims for its quality being up to their standard). Basically, it’s a crime caper about ordinary decent criminals, and how things always tend to go wrong despite the best laid plans of mice, men, women and one-eyed wolves. Especially when the plans laid are quite poor to begin with …”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Friday, February 13, 2009

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Marc Blatte

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?
THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Anyone amoral.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
John Burdett.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Coming up with a credible dialogue in the book that explains the title HUMPTY DUMPTY WAS PUSHED.
“Then his cousin solemnly gave Vooko the gun, lit up a juicy spliff , and after a few hits, got sadly philosophical. “Take care with this, little cuz. This place America, ain’t like home. No way. Here nobody takes responsibility for anything. They got “no fault insurance,” bumper stickers and tee shirts that say “shit happens.” Come on man, let’s be real, shit don’t just happen yo, that’s what I’m talkin’ about: Humpty Dumpty was pushed!”
The best Irish crime novel is …?
THE BLACK ANGEL.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?

Ditto.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Finishing or starting a book. Starting or finishing a book.

The pitch for your next book is …?
White boy stud super star street baller thinks he sees an off-court killing during Entertainers Basketball Classic at Harlem’s Rucker’s Park.

Who are you reading right now?
WILD COWBOYS: URBAN MARAUDERS AND THE FORCES OF ORDER by Robert Jackall.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I say to God. “You mean I get to write but I can’t read what I‘ve written?” God nods affirmative. I continue, “Sounds like heaven to me.”

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?

Fast, faster, funny.

Marc Blatte’s HUMPTY DUMPTY WAS PUSHED is available now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Black Day at Bad Rock

The line-up for John Sturges’ movie ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’ had the greatest cast of character actors ever assembled on the same lot: apart from Spencer Tracy in the one-armed lead, you had Robert Ryan, Walter Brennan, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine. Although Sam Peckinpah’s ‘The Wild Bunch’ is arguably better. Can anyone name the Wild Bunch off the top of their head? I’ll give you Bo Hopkins for a starter …
  Anyway, the point of today’s broadcast, courtesy of Caroline Walsh at the Irish Times:
A film version of Irish novelist Kevin Power’s debut novel BAD DAY IN BLACKROCK, inspired by the death of a young man after an attack outside a Dublin nightclub, is in the offing. The book has been sold via agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor to Ed Guiney’s Irish-based company Element Pictures which produced the movies Garage and Adam and Paul and co-produced The Wind that Shakes the Barley.
  Very nice, especially since 'Adam and Paul' is the greatest Irish movie ever made.
  Actually, I’m not even sure if BAD DAY IN BLACKROCK is a crime novel, or even a novel of crime. And I’m pretty sure Kevin Power didn’t write it as a crime novel. But it’s a good book, and I think in time it will be an important book, and Kevin Power seems to be a decent sort of chap who can write very well, and I think he deserves all the publicity he gets, including the precious few molecules generated here. Well done, that man.
  Meanwhile, there’s already an Irish movie called ‘Bad Day at Blackrock’ (2001), Gerry Stembridge’s story about racism in the south Dublin suburb, the same backdrop against which Kevin Power’s novel takes place. So: what are they going to call it? ‘Black Day at Bad Rock?’

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When Harry Lost Sal

Trust me, for the next five years or so the hot topic in thrillers will be people trying their damnedest to break out of banks, rather than into them. Meanwhile, set in the world of dubious high finance, Dubliner Ava McCarthy’s debut, THE INSIDER (due in April), couldn’t be more timely. Quoth the blurb elves:
A cutting-edge international debut thriller set in the world of hackers, techno-thieves and inside traders, for fans of John Grisham. Henrietta ‘Harry’ Martinez lost her investment banker father, Sal, at a young age. He taught her everything he knew -- about taking risks and calculating odds. But Sal made a bad gamble when he went into business with ‘The Prophet’, an anonymous trader who claims Harry owes him, now her father’s jailed for fraud. It’s twelve million euros. Or her life. With no money and little time, Harry must track down Sal’s crooked partners and escape the people on her trail -- journalists, police and hired killers. But Harry has her own skills, honed by her father, skills her enemies haven’t anticipated. Now, from the London Stock Exchange to the casinos of the Bahamas, the chase is on. The stakes are high. And the bets are off!
  The Big Question: Has Ava McCarthy and / or HarperCollins engineered the worldwide economic crash in order to give THE INSIDER a platform? Answers on used fifties to The Grand Vizier’s Blind Orphan Foundation, c/o Moolah Mansions, Grand Bahama.
  Meantime, the vid below is of Ava offering the inside skinny. Roll it there, Collette …

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Future Of Books # 12,092

Last year, when I was uploading A GONZO NOIR to the web, I was very tempted to make it a more radical experience of reading than you get from a conventional novel, utilising pics where appropriate, YouTube videos, author comments and marginalia, and including web-links to topics mentioned, etc. Time being a commodity as precious as oxygen these days, I decided against it, but David Meerman Scott over at Web Ink Now has some interesting thoughts along the same lines, to wit:
“So what if a book read more like a website? What if it looked more like those Choose Your Own Adventure books, with links to other chapters, pages, and even other resources in the marginalia? What if there were paid advertising on the page, but not traditional ads but rather something more akin to Google AdWords, where the placement is determined online in a bidding process coupled with consumer-driven inputs? What if on the printed page, instead of single photos or illustrations with captions, books adapted the concept of the embedded YouTube video, and used a storyboard format--i.e., a comics format--to depict a scene, when sequential visuals are required?”
  Sounds ludicrous? Not really, when you’ve got downloadable books to hand-held devices, and wi-fi growing in availability by the day. Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How The Key West Was Won: Part The Second

Michael Haskins (right), the Florida wing of the great Irish crime writing conspiracy, has posted the first chapter of his second novel, FREE RANGE INSTITUTION, featuring his protag from CHASIN’ THE WIND, ‘Mad’ Mick Murphy. How Irish is ‘Mad’ Mick? Erm, the answer is in the question. Anyhoo, on with the show …
Tita and I walked the short block from Key West Island Books to Duval Street, wandering between tourists as they window-shopped, drank beer from plastic cups, and ignored traffic lights. It was nice to have her back from Boston and talking to me.
  The conch-shell pink, six-story Hotel Key West filled one corner block at Duval and Fleming Streets, its color faded to a dull white. A yuppie coffee shop took up most of the street-side of the hotel’s first floor and the Chalice Room, once the hotel’s trendy restaurant and bar, had its windows covered with brown wrapping paper; it would reopen soon with a new name and menu. Key West could hold back change for only so long.
  Tita stopped to look at the clothing displays in the large windows of Excess. I wanted to get to Jack Flat’s, a half block down the street, for a late lunch.
  “I love this outfit.” She pointed at a mannequin dressed in designer jeans and white blouse.
  I turned to look and caught the window reflection of a body falling through the air like a clumsy bird, with only the traffic on a crowded street to stop it. I turned and looked, as the body crashed onto a car’s roof ….
  For the rest, clickety-click here