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?
John Fowles’ THE MAGUS. Does that count? If not, maybe THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE by James M. Cain. Or Raymond Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE. Or how about THE DAY OF THE JACKAL? THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE? I could keep going, but it’s starting to get depressing. There are some really terrific crime novels.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Too many to choose from. But I guess I’d say the Jackal. I like the fact that he’s always “dining excellently” and hiring gunsmiths to design a sniper rifle that looks like a crutch and having kinky sex. I once built a French vacation with my wife around places the Jackal went. My wife and daughter and I have a ritual when we travel. When we’re in a foreign airport, we each choose someone most likely to be the Jackal. It might be a Franciscan nun or an old lady in a wheelchair. Whoever seems the most unlikely. Charles De Gaulle Airport is especially good for this game.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasure. No pleasure should bring us guilt. As a guy who writes novels that are sold in airports, I’m no snob about reading popular fiction, though I have no patience for bad prose. I like some comic books and graphic novels, but they’ve gotten so sophisticated these days that they’re worlds from the Superman and Archie and Richie Rich comics I read as a kid. Some people might be surprised that I’m a big fan of Brian Azzarello’s graphic novels. 100 BULLETS was brilliant.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Nothing compares to getting so lost in a scene that I look up and a couple of hours have gone by. That’s what gets me through all the frustration.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I haven’t read enough Irish crime novels, but Declan Hughes’ CITY OF LOST GIRLS was fantastic.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Tana French’s THE LIKENESS could be a great psychological thriller.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst: People expect you to pick them up from the airport because you don’t have a real job. The best: being your own boss. And in the category of worst and best: the hours. Theoretically I set my own, but I’m never really not working.
The pitch for your next book is …?
Nick Heller continues his one-man battle against jerks, bullies, and liars at home and abroad.
Who are you reading right now?
Walter Tevis’s THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT. How did I miss that? Charles Cumming’s THE TRINITY SIX was a great old-school spy thriller. I’ve been rereading Chandler and John D. McDonald. Man, were they good writers.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. No question about it. You know, I’m a decent cook, and sometimes our dinner guests compliment me by saying, You should open your own restaurant. To which I reply, why the hell would I want to work that hard when I’d much rather eat a great meal prepared by someone else? Writing is one of the best jobs in the world, because you get paid to make stuff up. But it’s still a job. Reading, on the other hand, is like dining at a restaurant. Someone else does the hard work so you can sit back and enjoy the meal.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Surprise, reverse, reveal. They’re posted on my desk.
Joseph Finder’s BURIED SECRETS is published by Headline.
“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.