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?
For true crime, I’d love to take credit for IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote. It is, hands down, one of the best crime books I’ve read – fiction or non-fiction and has put me off ever writing true crime, since mine would be crap in comparison. For a novel, I’d be happy to have written the worst thing Donald Westlake ever wrote, because even his worst (if such a thing exists) is still really good.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Nora Charles in Dashiell Hammett’s THE THIN MAN. She was smart, funny, and could handle her liquor.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Porn. And quilting magazines. And recently I reread James Crumley’s THE LAST GOOD KISS for about the twentieth time.
Most satisfying writing moment?
I love it when I think I’ve written myself in a corner and I have no idea what my character will do. And then, while I’m driving, or trying to sleep or something, suddenly it comes to me – the way out of the mess and it all makes perfect sense and is completely right. It feels as though I’ve unlocked the secrets of the universe – until the next time I write myself into a corner.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I’m no expert on the subject, but I loved THE GUARDS, by Ken Bruen and Brian McGilloway’s Inspector Devlin series. I haven’t read any of Tana French’s book yet, though they are massively popular and on my ‘to read’ list.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Damn, that’s a hard question. I think there are so many dark, atmospheric Irish crime novels out there that it may be the next Sweden.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst is the money, the uncertainty, empty book signings, and wondering why someone else’s load of crap is doing better than my book. The best is the joy of writing itself, the hours, hanging out with other writers, and finding some other author’s book that is so off-the-charts good that I get inspired all over again.
The pitch for your next book is …?
I’m working on the second in my Kate Conway series. In this one, Kate, an American TV producer, is doing a documentary in a prison outside Chicago, talking with guys who are serving LWP sentences. An LWP is life without parole, which means they die there. Kate is generally a sarcastic type, not prone to excessive human interaction, but she finds herself entangled with these men, and with the mistress of her late husband. It leads to a lie, a murder, blackmail and who knows what else since I still have about eighty pages to write.
Who are you reading right now?
I’ve been reading two books. THE PSYCHOPATH TEST, by Jon Ronson, and STILL LIFE, by Louise Penny. Louise is one of those off-the-charts good writers who inspire me.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
God is a cruel duck. It’s like choosing between breathing and blinking my eyes. I guess I would choose writing. I love to read, but I have to write. (And despise saying it like that since it sounds so pretentious and annoying.)
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Way past deadline.
Clare O’Donohue’s MISSING PERSONS is published by Plume Books.
“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.