“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.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Lesley Thomson

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 WOMAN IN WHITE by Wilkie Collins. I read this in a weekend when I was in my early twenties. Count Fosco can still give me nightmares.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Lucy in THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. She is courageous and generous and makes the most of life. While being the youngest in a big family, she has a great sense of self. I would still like to be Lucy.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
It used to be crime fiction of any kind. I am no longer apologetic about how I spend my time, and free of a punitive voice, read what I like. Any vestiges of guilt are confined to Hello magazine at the dentist.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Writing one chapter of A KIND OF VANISHING to the soundtrack of Kate Bush singing ‘Under the Ivy’. I was focussed, immersed in the story and moved by the music: I did it in one draft.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
FELICIA’S JOURNEY by William Trevor. Another book I wish I had written. However, I am glad to have been a reader, deep in Trevor’s world, unsure what would happen next.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
As above. The tension and the banality that Trevor sets up would transfer effectively to the big screen. I know it was made about eleven years ago. I have not yet seen it.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
This is where my guilt resides. It hangs like a pall of smog for words that are not being written as I read, walk, eat: do anything except face the blank ‘page’. The page is no longer blank and I am miserable about what I have written. I plod on as the smog descends. After a while the sun comes out. There is air in the room. My characters take on lives of their own. The world is a richer place, as a writer, I can express experience in words as well as by living and reading.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Put aside a rainy afternoon, choose your favourite food and find your favourite place. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin …

Who are you reading right now?
THE EYES OF THE SKIN: ARCHITECTURE AND THE SENSES by Juhani Pallasmaa. A Finnish architect who writes about how we engage with buildings and with the world. It is an inspiring, life-enhancing book. Alongside this I am tucking into the COLLECTED GHOST STORIES by M. R. James. A fabulous treasure trove of creaking mansions and faceless phantoms be-knighting crusty archaeologists who should be minding their own business. I love James’s intimate story-telling style.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write, but what sort of God would do that to me?

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Compelling. Challenging. Witty.

Lesley Thomson’s A KIND OF VANISHING is published by Myriad Editions.

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