“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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Choosing Your Favourite Child

Craig Sisterson over at Kiwi Crime was kind enough to point his 9mm at me (oo-er, missus), said 9mm being a quick-fire interview consisting of nine questions, one of which runneth thusly:
CS: Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?

DB: “Now that’s a tough bloody question. It’s like asking which of your kids you love most. And the honest answer is that I love them all equally, and I’m including those that haven’t been published when I say ‘all’. EIGHTBALL was magic because it was my first, and I’ll never replicate that shining, incandescent moment when I first held the book - an actual book, written by me - in my hands. It happened on a street in Galway, and I believe I kind of blanked out for a few seconds. I’d waited a long, long time to see that book … THE BIG O I love because it was a co-published deal with Hag’s Head, I and my wife put our mortgage money where my mouth was by paying 50% of the costs, and it ended up a modest success, from a co-published little effort (880 copies in Ireland) that ended up getting a pretty decent deal in the States, and allowed me go to the States for a road-trip to promote it. BAD FOR GOOD (which is currently out under consideration) I love because it’s radically different to the previous books, and I’m still not sure where the voice came from, or where the notion of having a hospital porter blow up his hospital came from. But even the books that will never see the light of day, I love them too, because they’re me at my most me. Which is the main reason why I write, I think.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  Actually, it was only after I’d seen the piece published that the sheer audacity of that question struck me. Not that I might have a favourite among my books, but the fact that there books out there that are ‘my books’, and enough of them published - the bare minimum, as it happens - to allow me choose a favourite. Some days you forget how far you’ve come relative to where you began … If you had told me 20 years ago that I’d have one book published, let alone two, I’d probably have had you consigned to a home for the terminally bewildered.
  It’s far too easy to get caught up in the bullshit that goes with writing - sales figures, publishing deals, not getting publishing deals, the near misses with commissioning editors who love your stuff but can’t get it past the bean-counters … All of which can be very frustrating, it’s true. Once in a while, though, it does no harm to lean back and glance up at the shelf where I’ve stacked the Irish crime fiction titles, and see ‘my books’ nestling in there (alphabetically, natch) amongst novels from proper good writers such as Colin Bateman, Ken Bruen, Paul Charles and John Connolly. I’ll probably never shed the notion that offerings are interlopers on that shelf, but hey, at least they’re there …

7 comments:

Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

As a bystander to the exciting world of crime fiction, I don't find the marketing to be BS.

Up to recently it was not even recognised that Ireland had such a lively bunch of thriller and noir writers.

I tried to keep our end up by carrying a copy of "Winterland" where ever I went in Melbourne... even to the point of calling in to bookshops and showing it to the booksellers.

Readers tend to be very interested in all aspects of literature, even the seemingly mundane question of what sells best.

Declan Burke said...

Tales - Some of the marketing can be fun, like doing the interview with Craig, say ... but I'd imagine if you canvassed a number of authors, virtually all of them would say something along the lines of, "Just leave me alone to write."

Cheers, Dec

Dana King said...

Be not too humble, sir. THE BIG O is a book authors like Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen would be proud to have written.

Declan Burke said...

Gee shucks, Dana ... put another beer on my tab, squire.

Cheers, Dec

Naomi Johnson said...

I'd be damned proud to have turned out anything as good as The Big O. Funny is a helluva lot more difficult to pull off than drama.

Kiwicraig said...

Ditto Naomi's comment - comedy is serious business, as they say.

Was a pleasure to include you amongs 9mm's growing cadre

Declan Burke said...

Delighted to take part, Craig - much obliged for the invite.

Cheers, Dec