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?
That’s a tough one; there are a lot to choose from. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthy is one, for sure. It approaches the level of American mythology, the way it examines evil, greed, and violence. Also, CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson, simply because it’s so utterly brilliant and gut-wrenching from the first word. Those two and a lesser-known book called CHEAP TICKET TO HEAVEN by Charlie Smith, about a bank robbing couple on the run through the US. It’s surreal, dark, philosophical, and one of the most unique novels I’ve ever read, crime or not. If I had to pick one, I’d say CHEAP TICKET, because it pushes the limits of the crime novel the furthest.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
This one is easy. Batman. Not that I don’t love my parents, but the ability to kick that much ass on people who really deserve it is pretty tempting. Plus, there’s Catwoman.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I like sports writing about baseball. In another life, if I couldn’t play the game, I’d be a beat writer for the New York Mets.
Most satisfying writing moment?
That live moment when it’s really flowing and you know it’s good. That fleeting, ephemeral high is the best, when you’re free from wondering about the final result of it. Also, I have to say, sending a manuscript to my editor or my agent – knowing it doesn’t have to be letter perfect to impress and that I don’t have write three dozen friggin’ query letters—that’s pretty damn satisfying.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Can I put a vote in for Roddy Doyle’s THE WOMAN WHO WALKED INTO DOORS? There’s a mysterious death and plenty of bad behavior. Maybe not the best, but certainly most underrated, at least in the States. Everyone knows the Barrytown trilogy, but I think the Paula Spencer novels are brilliant.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
CHRISTINE FALLS by Benjamin Black. Very noir. Intriguing story with all kinds of twists, and I think that era in Dublin would make such a compelling setting. The way Black renders it reminds me of Chandler’s L.A. I’d imagine, after the way Dublin’s changed over the past couple of decades, that those days in Dublin seem even further back and more foreign than ever. Might be fun to look closely at them.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Being your own boss. That’s the best and the worst of it. Making all my own hours. In a way, I never have to go to work, but in another way I’m never not at work, either. So I’ve never got nothing to do, but – I never have nothing to do.
The pitch for your next book is …?
A world-weary NYC cocktail waitress sees something she shouldn’t after work one night, putting her and her mother on the wrong side of some very bad people.
Who are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m getting towards the end of Kate Atkinson’s STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG. I’ve got Walter Mosley’s second Leonid Magill novel and a debut novel called LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J Henry on my TBR pile.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Maybe this is a cop-out, but having published a couple of books already, I’d have to choose read. Not that I don’t feel I have plenty more books in me, but not as many as I would miss if I couldn’t read.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Sharp, authoritative, efficient. (I hope)
Bill Loehfelm’s THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS is published by Farar, Straus and Giroux
“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.