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?
I would have to say STREET 8 by Douglas Fairbairn. It’s a sadly-overlooked noir classic from 1977. It’s told from the point of view of a car salesman in Miami as he watches his hometown transform itself into a Latin city. The Cubans are there to stay, but who can be trusted? Like most noir protagonists, he soon finds himself embroiled in circumstances that have careened completely out of control. I lived in Key West, my adopted hometown, for many years, and I quickly learned about this great book. Every Florida crime author since 1977 has been influenced by it in one way or another. Fairbairn himself, incidentally, wrote very few novels before his death a few years ago. STREET 8 was his best.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Don Corleone. He really had it all, didn’t he? A close family who loved and respected him, power, money, a real sense of accomplishment in his life. Sure, he was shot, but remember, it was business, not personal. Besides, he recovered and went on into a pleasant retirement surrounded by his loved ones.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I have most of the Out Of The Gutter magazines. Have you ever read them? A lot of them are wa-a-a-ay over the top, but where else can you find something like that? They’re kind of refreshing, in a perverse sort of way.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Without a doubt, it occurred when I finished my newest novel, MAN-SLAUGHTER. The ending was a most unusual one, hard (for me) to pull off properly, but I feel like I nailed it.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Well, if I told you I’ve never read an Irish crime novel, will this interview end right here?
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
See above answer.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
For me, the worst thing is looking at that damned blank screen when I’m starting a new novel. I don’t use an outline, so I just let my characters tell the story for me. They have to tell it, because I can’t make up stories. Honestly. I’ve tried sitting there, concocting a tale, and nothing comes out. It’s only when I get an opening line, a sense of place, and a central character to work with that the story gets told. But waiting for those things to appear is unquestionably the worst, most aggravating part about being a writer. The best part is when they finally do appear, and the novel takes flight. Then all I have to do is write it down.
The pitch for your next book is …?
It’s called THE GHOSTS OF HAVANA and the description goes something like this: A young woman is brutally murdered in the back of a Key West nightclub. Robbie, the club’s owner, and Elena, the victim’s sister, believe that a local strip club operator is to blame. However, they soon learn that larger, far more sinister forces are behind the killing, and they become ensnared in a deadly race to a safe deposit box in Las Vegas, whose contents hold the key to decades-old secrets and threaten national security.
Who are you reading right now?
Gil Brewer’s novel, THE BRAT. Brewer was one of the best at creating hopelessly-doomed noir characters. And he usually did it the same way every time out. Ordinary Joe has chance encounter with sizzling chick, gets roped in, pays dearly in the end. For some reason, though, you never feel like you’re reading a formula novel when you’re reading Brewer.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Find a new religion.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Circumstances, choices, consequences. That really just about sums up the human condition, doesn’t it?
Mike Dennis’ THE TAKE is available now.
“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.