First off, a belated happy New Year; and thanks to everyone who has been in touch to see if I’d fallen down a well, or had a nervous breakdown, or had some natural disaster befall me. Christmas was hugely enjoyable, especially as Lily was just about old enough to appreciate it for the first time; and even though we’ve been snowed or iced in for what seems like a couple of years now, we’re all safe and warm and in very good form.
The reason for the radio silence on the blog is going to sound a bit selfish, I’m afraid. Basically, early in December, I was putting together a piece to upload when it dawned on me (very late, but I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer) that it was a little bit perverse that I couldn’t find the time to write for myself, but had time to promote other writers. In fact, it was counter-intuitive, particularly as I’ve had a story screaming around my head since even before I announced I was going to stop writing. In fact, that story was the reason I made that announcement; knowing I wouldn’t have the time to do it justice, I wanted to draw a line under the writing for the foreseeable future.
What has happened in the last month, then, is that with the time I’ve stolen away from blogging, and with extra time available over the holidays, I’ve made a start on a new story. Right now I’m about five thousand words in, which isn’t a huge amount for a month’s work (there were a couple of false starts), and loving it; I’ve had decent feedback from a couple of people whose opinions I trust; and there’s a real fire to the writing that I haven’t felt now in a few years, even if (and perhaps because) the story is probably the least commercial one I’ve ever taken on (sorry, Al). So, upward and onward on that score: hopefully, as the year wears on, I’ll still be able to find the time to keep working away at it.
What that means for the blog I really don’t know. I can definitely say that I’ll be blogging far less than I used to; and I can also say that the occasional posts will very probably be more me-oriented than of yore; and having said that, I have no doubt that I’ll be featuring other writers besides me. But – a good complaint to have in these times – I’m busier than ever with work, the actual paying kind, and with the writing taking precedence over the blog (which is as it should be, and something I think I lost sight of over the last few years), the posts will probably be so intermittent as to be virtually useless. We’ll see how it goes.
Meantime, it looks like being an interesting year. I’ve already been on TV, on RTE’s The View, which was good fun to do (January 5th, for those interested); the collection of essays from Irish crime writers, DOWN THOSE GREEN STREETS, is with a publisher awaiting a green light; I have two novels still under consideration from publishers; a couple of invites to summer festivals have already come in; I’m hugely enjoying the story I’m working on; and all in all, it feels like a very fecund time. Despite the cold snap we’re having here in Ireland – and it’s a historical event at this stage, and snowing again as I write, with 10 cms due tomorrow, and temperatures of -13 forecast for tonight – we’re already three weeks past the shortest day of the year, and the sun is on its way back, and the sap is rising. I sincerely hope that all of you are in as fine a fettle.
“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.