Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
Forgetful Editor’s Note: I met with Lee Child (right) yesterday afternoon, to interview him about his latest novel, THE AFFAIR, and a very interesting conversation it was, too. In fact, the only bum notes were when he referred to knowing me, and my work, on a couple of occasions during the chat. Afterwards, not wanting to break the flow during the interview, I pointed out that he was confusing me with my bete noire, Declan Hughes. No, he said, it was Declan Burke he meant; he knew of me through Crime Always Pays, and had in fact filled in a Q&A for the blog last year. Which suggests, if there was ever any doubt about it, that Lee Child is far more professional, and significantly more a gentleman, than yours truly. As a form of penance, then, I hereby reprint said Q&A. To wit:
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
Either THE DAMNED AND THE DESTROYED by Kenneth Orvis, or DADDY by Loup Durand, or THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris. In the same way that people who like a) skiing and b) skateboarding and c) wearing baggy clothes invented snowboarding, I try to use the planetary pulls of those three novels to create my own orbit. Which will be completely incomprehensible to anyone who has actually read my books, but that’s what’s happening in my head.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Little John from the Robin Hood legend. Cheerful, tough, and a bit thick.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Barbara Taylor Bradford, and multi-generational sagas in general. Especially about rags to riches and long-delayed revenge by wronged girls.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Generally or specifically? Generally, when I’ve got the first couple thousand words down, and I can sense the story stretching ahead, and I haven’t screwed it up yet. Specifically, the end of the first chapter in PERSUADER. Even I was excited.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I’m half-Irish myself, and therefore half-entitled to feel that Irishness can work just as well - or even better - out there in the diaspora, maybe a generation or two from the auld sod itself, where all its doom and boneheaded cussedness and fatalism and stoicism and tribalism stands in stark relief against a more neutral setting. So, MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane. Or, if you insist on an Irish writer with Irish characters in Ireland, I liked IN THE WOODS by Tana French a lot. But it wasn’t essentially Irish, was it? Could have worked in Manchester or Baltimore or Sydney or Christchurch. So how about THE BIG O by Declan Burke?
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
MYSTIC RIVER, see above. And it was a fine movie.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Anyone who has had another job knows there’s nothing bad about it. Best? It’s all good.
The pitch for your next book is …?
Find out if Jack Reacher survived 61 HOURS.
Who are you reading right now?
An ARC of BROKEN by Karin Slaughter.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
If God appears I’ll have a whole lot more to worry about than that. Like revising a whole lot of assumptions. Or complaining to my dealer. But - I would choose reading, of course. I like reading other people’s stuff a thousand times better than typing out my own crap.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Good enough, sometimes.
Lee Child’s THE AFFAIR is published by Bantam Press.
“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.