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 CUTTING ROOM by Louise Welsh left me breathless. It’s tartan noir at its most deft, dark and literary. She really is a master storyteller. It tells the story of Rilke, a dissolute auctioneer who finds a cache of disturbing erotic photos in a house clearance. She takes a character who was in the gutter to begin with and sends him into a downward spiral.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I have no guilty pleasures, only deeply unfashionable ones; once every few years I chain-read Virginia Andrews’ Dollanganger saga.
Most satisfying writing moment?
The day I realised THE POISON TREE was finished and I had actually written a novel. I almost didn’t care if no one read it. (This lasted for about a week. Then I cared again, a lot.)
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I’ve loved both of Tana French’s novels, IN THE WOODS and THE LIKENESS; gritty and tender, for me they absolutely capture the dark side of Dublin during the boom.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
THE LIKENESS (see above) was rich with young, sexy, intriguing characters and the Wicklow mountains are the perfect film backdrop.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The freedom and power of creating new worlds is pretty intoxicating for a control freak like me. Plus, it’s fun; I can tell when I’m writing something good because it doesn’t feel like writing, it feels like reading. The worst thing is the physical discomfort. I know, I’m not exactly working down a mine, but sitting at a desk all day, getting RSI and watching your ass go square slowly impacts your vertebrae and crushes your spirit.
The pitch for your next book is …?
It’s about Paul, a young man who acts as the ‘eyes’ for his childhood friend Daniel, who is illiterate, angry, loyal and charming. Gradually Daniel’s protection turns into a desire for control that threatens to ruin Paul’s life until one night, Paul makes a split-second decision that will get Daniel out of the way for good. With Daniel’s father out for revenge, Paul escapes to build a new life in a different part of the country. There he begins a relationship with Louisa, a woman who has even darker, more dangerous secrets than he does. Who will catch up with Paul first?
Who are you reading right now?
THE WILDING by Maria McCann. It’s a deceptively thrilling literary novel about Civil War, sex and cider. What’s not to like?
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’d plea-bargain my soul to be allowed both. If that didn’t work ... well, I write one book a year, and read maybe sixty, so it has to be reading.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Up all night.
Erin Kelly’s THE POISON TREE is published by Hodder & Stoughton.
“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. “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.