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 FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE by George V. Higgins. Superbly written, tremendous dialogue, perfectly paced, a horde of memorable characters, not a wasted or graceless sentence in it. The gold standard.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
The eponymous protagonist of COCKFIGHTER: musical genius, unlikely babe magnet, sporting gentleman, a soul utterly unfazed by setbacks and troubles. Created by the great and greatly under-rated Charles Willeford.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
He wrote them in a hurry, I read them in a hurry, but I get great pleasure out of the Maigret novels by Georges Simenon. But I always feel relatively virtuous reading anything. If I want to feel guilty I play Missile Command or Galaxian on the computer.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Hearing that my first novel, WAITING FOR THE HEALER, was going to be published.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
OPEN CUT by JM O’Neill. The greatest Irish writer most people have never heard of. This and DUFFY IS DEAD are not just the best London Irish novels ever written but two of the best novels ever written about London. That he’s not much better known is, well, criminal.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR by Gene Kerrigan. And, on the grounds that the parentage rule has done great good for this country, A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR by Dennis Lehane, whose father comes from over the road in Clonakilty.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best is the freedom. The worst is the uncertainty. Two sides of the same coin really, I suppose.
The pitch for your next book is …?
DOWN DOWN, DEEPER AND DOWN: Ireland in the seventies, war, sex and corruption, oh baby it was a wild world. Or, if this counts as the current book, the novel I’m working on is called BORDERTOWN BLUES. Pitch: Ireland in the seventies, war, sex and corruption, oh baby it was a wild world.
Who are you reading right now?
The Martin Beck novels by Maj Sjowal and Per Wahloo. Fantastic stuff, THE MAN ON THE BALCONY would be in the runners-up slot behind Eddie Coyle. Sjowall and Wahloo are the Beatles, Henning Mankell is Oasis. I like Oasis, but the original of the species is, to use football parlance, different class.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
A bit unreasonable of the guy, considering I’m one of the declining number of people who still believe in him. Read, I could dictate the books to someone else.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Still getting there.
Eamonn Sweeney’s DOWN DOWN, DEEPER AND DOWN is published by Gill & Macmillan
“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.