I’d have got less for GBH, etc. Today is the fifth anniversary of my voluntary incarceration in the occasional lunatic asylum that is Crime Always Pays Towers (appropriately stale two-year-old cake pictured, right) and all Three Regular Readers won’t be in the slightest bit surprised to learn that the first post was a plug for my then current novel, THE BIG O (these days, of course, I’m plugging the bejaysus out of EIGHTBALL BOOGIE. But that’s a story for another day). THE BIG O had just been published with the small but perfectly formed Hag’s Head Press, and between us we hadn’t so much as a Michael Lowry red cent for promotion and publicity purposes. Crime Always Pays was intended to be a cheap (i.e., free) means of getting the word out there, although I also saw it as a chance to celebrate the small but growing number of Irish crime writers.
These days, I’m delighted to say, there are so many Irish crime writers that it can be hard to keep tabs on them all, with more appearing every year. Then again, it’s hardly surprising that crime writers are coming up like mushrooms, given that the official response to the larceny on the grandest of scales that is the Irish economic downturn, recession and austerity bail-out was to shovel on the shite and keep us all in the dark.
Anyway, one unintended consequence of Crime Always Pays is DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY, which is a collection of essays, interviews and short stories by Irish crime writers on the subject of Irish crime writing and edited by yours truly, and which will be published next month by Liberties Press. It’s an odd feeling, waiting for it to appear. I’m nervous on its behalf, of course, especially as I have no idea of how it’ll be received, given that - to the best of my knowledge - it’s one of a kind. But I have no sense of ownership of the collection, not in the way I would if it was one of my own books. As far as I’m concerned, the book belongs to the contributors. I am proud of it, though, proud on behalf of the very fine writers involved, and delighted to see such a diverse range of talents all together and talking about a phenomenon that has long since been recognised abroad, and is finally starting to register with an Irish audience.
Another unintended consequence of CAP, the most delightful, and one which has always kept me going through the inevitable peaks and troughs of a writer’s life, is the number of people I’ve met on-line, most of them in the crime fiction community. I was bowled over in the early days of CAP by the generosity of spirit offered to a newbie by people I’d presumed would be competitors, i.e., fellow bloggers, but it appears that the spirit of good karma is alive and well in a blogosphere near you. People, you know who you are, and you keep me young(ish). It’s a labour of love, ye olde blogge, but as with most things, you get out what you put in.
Upwards and onwards, folks. Here’s to another five years or so, twice as many Irish crime writers, multiples of good folk met on-line, and perhaps even a book or two to promote from yours truly. Hey, I can always dream …
“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.