Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Friday, October 22, 2010

On Blowing Up Hospitals For Charity

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (February 17th, to be precise, in a parallel universe where generosity rules), I wrote a piece about self-publishing my current novel-under-consideration, aka A GONZO NOIR, aka BAD FOR GOOD. The response was truly humbling - the three regular readers of Crime Always Pays obviously have a lot of friends.
  The idea at the time was to ‘crowd-fund’ the publication of A GONZO NOIR, by asking people to pledge a certain amount of money to the Kickstarter site. Once the sum required to self-publish was achieved, I’d go ahead and publish, and everyone who pledged would receive a brand spanking new copy of the novel. The response, as I say, was fantastic - and thanks to everyone who got in touch warning me against the idea too, the idea being to protect me from myself.
  Before I go any further - and a hard sell’s a-gonna fall, don’t doubt that - let me take a moment to reassure any non-regular readers that I’m not just another self-deluding moron, or at least that I’m not a self-deluding moron when it comes to writing books. I took the liberty of sending out the m/s to a number of writers late last year, requesting blurbs if the novel should ever be published, and a sample runs thusly:
“A genuinely original take on noir, inventive and funny. Imagine, if you can, a cross between Flann O’Brien and Raymond Chandler.” – John Banville, author of THE SEA

“BAD FOR GOOD is unlike anything else you’ll read this year … Laugh-out-loud funny … This is writing at its dazzling, cleverest zenith. Think John Fowles, via Paul Auster andRolling Stone … a feat of extraordinary alchemy.” – Ken Bruen, author of AMERICAN SKIN

“Burke has written a deep, lyrical and moving crime novel … an intoxicating and exciting novel of which the master himself, Flann O’Brien, would be proud.” – Adrian McKinty, author of FIFTY GRAND

“Stop waiting for Godot – he’s here. Declan Burke takes the existential dilemma of characters writing themselves and turns it on its ear, and then some. He gives it body and soul … an Irish soul.” – Reed Farrel Coleman, author of EMPTY EVER AFTER
  For more, and for reviews of my previous novels, EIGHTBALL BOOGIE and THE BIG O, scroll down and glance to your left. Meanwhile, the most recent big-up I’ve had was from The Artist Formerly Known as Colin Bateman, writing in the Guardian blogs:
“If you want to find something new and challenging, comic crime fiction is now the place to go … Declan Burke [is] at the vanguard of a new wave of young writers kicking against the clichés and producing ambitious, challenging, genre-bending works.” Colin Bateman, author of THE DAY OF THE JACK RUSSELL
  For a taster of what A GONZO NOIR is actually about, clickety-click here
  Now, the hard sell:
  It’s only fair to say that the reaction to A GONZO NOIR has been mixed. Some commissioning editors just didn’t like it, and that’s fair enough. Most did like it, and some even loved it, but the general vibe was that the novel isn’t commercial enough for them to take a gamble on. What that means, I suppose, is that it’s unlikely to sell in many multiples of thousands. Again, fair enough - that’s the way in the industry works, and my sales record to date isn’t exactly sending the boys over at Nielsen into a frenzy.
  It may be naïve, but for what I have in mind, A GONZO NOIR doesn’t have to sell in multiples of thousands. Let me give you some figures:
  According to a quote I’ve received from a UK print-on-demand company, I can get 500 copies of A GONZO NOIR published to industry standard for the princely sum of £1,596.92 stg, which works out at €1,802 (I’ll be using euro from here on in). If I order online, the company delivers the 500 copies for free, which is a nice bonus. That means that the raw cost to me is €3.60 per book. Including post and packaging, the overall cost of the book (were I to post you - yes, YOU! - a copy) is €8.35. If I price the book at €10 (£8.86 / $13.92), that leaves me with a profit of €1.65 per book, or €825 if I sell out the entire run of 500 copies.
  Now, €825 is not a sum of money to be sneezed at in these benighted times, but neither is going to buy me that Greek island I’ve been hankering after for a number of years now. So - what to do with the whopping €825 profit?
  Well, I’ll divert you for a moment to the fact that the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, has announced that the Irish Health Service is to be filleted to the tune of €1 billion in the next budget. That’s €1 billion on top of already serious cuts, and with even more savage cuts to come as the wasters who run this country - or have already run it into the sand - prey on the most vulnerable in order to bail out the bankers, speculators, bluffers, gamblers and sundry other parasites whose debts have been lowered onto the shoulders of the Irish people.
  I’ll also point you, yet again, to the wonderfully subversive philanthropists at the Concord Free Press, who’ve given me the idea for what follows:
Given that A GONZO NOIR is a black farce about a psychopath who wants to blow up a hospital, and that it features my lovely daughter Lily, and that the staff of the Children’s Hospital in Tallaght were absolutely fantastic during Lily’s stay there last year (see above), I’m planning - all going well - to donate the €825 to the Children’s Hospital in Tallaght.
  Yes, I know very well that €825 isn’t even a drop in the ocean of that €1 billion in cuts. But it’s something. And you never know, if we sell out of the 500 copies, we might just get to do another print run. Because the longer this recession goes on, and the worse it gets - and it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse in Ireland before it gets any better, if it ever does - the more ordinary people need to make gestures that actually mean something. The more we need to look out for one another. Because if we’re depending on the fools who got us into this mess to get us out of it, we’ll be a long, long time waiting.
  Anyway, the bad news is that Kickstarter doesn’t allow for charitable projects when it comes to raising funds, so the good news for you - yes, YOU! - is that you don’t need to pledge a penny. But I would appreciate it if you could find the time and space to spread the word about A GONZO NOIR. Because, for good or ill, I’m going to do this. It certainly beats sitting on my hands and bleating helplessly about Cowen, Lenihan, Harney, Anglo-Irish, NAMA, and all the rest of it. Over to you, folks - and thanks in advance.