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?
It’s a tie between THE LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley and THE LONG-LEGGED FLY by James Sallis. THE LAST GOOD KISS was one of the first books that showed me that a crime novel could have a grounded emotional story and still be fun. And as far as Sallis goes, you might as well put every book up there. Jim Sallis (he said I could call him Jim and I have the email to prove it) is truly in his own league.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
My favorite characters aren’t people I’d want to be. They’re too messed up or violent or flawed. Great characters like Lew Griffin, Nick Stefanos, Cal Innes, Jack Carter, Hoke Moseley, etc., just don’t have fulfilling lives. So I guess I’m going to have to go with Highsmith’s Tom Ripley. At the very least, sociopaths can just get more done in the course of a day.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
You’re interviewing a guy who still buys Iron Maiden albums the day they come out. In terms of pleasures, I’m not capable of guilt. However, I will admit to a soft spot for men’s serial adventures of the ’70s & ’80s. And I’m not talking the A-list books like The Executioner, Remo Williams, or Nick Carter. I really dig the second and third tier characters like The Pusher, The Revenger, The Penetrator, and The Butcher. I mean, how can you go wrong with a book starring The Swamp Master (set in a post-apocalyptic Cajun hell—Look it up!)? I’m actually in the process of setting up an online magazine devoted to new short stories in the same vein as these characters. It’s called BLOOD & TACOS. Retro, but with new characters and new stories. As well as, reviews of some of the original paperbacks.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Writing a really great pub quiz question. I used to write pub quizzes on the side for fun and money. A good question was answerable, but required some thought on the part of the player. Sadly, it’s probably my best writing medium. Here is one of my best questions: What Academy Award-winning movie’s title is a homonym for two different sounds made by asses? (The answer is at the bottom)
The best Irish crime novel is …?
I’m sure that half the people you interview give this answer, but I’m going to have to go with THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (I believe it was titled THE TWELVE over there) by Stuart Neville. It’s just a damn good book.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Adrian McKinty’s DEAD I WELL MAY BE. The pace and scope lends itself to a movie. It’s action-driven with just enough character to keep it grounded. The scenes are very cinematic and as you read, you can just see the whole thing. McKinty writes a mean violence.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best and worst thing about writing is that I have no one to complain to. While I have real-life problems just like anyone else, the problems that come with writing are enviable in comparison. If the worst part of my day is that I wrote a bunch of crap pages or some reviewer didn’t like my book or I’m pissy about some marketing thing, then that’s a good day. I’ve had real problems, and brother, writing ain’t one of them.
The pitch for your next book is …?
A dying man might ask for anything: forgiveness, a compassionate ear, a cold glass of water. Jimmy Veeder's father asked him for a Mexican prostitute. DOVE SEASON: A JIMMY VEEDER FIASCO is a contemporary crime novel set on both sides of the Mexican border. It has been twelve years since Jimmy set foot in the desert. But as his father's cancer spreads, Jimmy returns to share what little time they have left. He never expected to be sent into the Mexicali underworld in search of a hooker named Yolanda. With the help of an erratic-at-best childhood friend and too much beer, Jimmy stumbles among the violent, the exploited and the corrupted. The investigation and the events that follow ultimately force Jimmy to confront family secrets and question everything he held to be true about his father.
Who are you reading right now?
I’m just starting Charlie Williams’ BOOZE AND BURN (originally published as FAGS AND LAGER), the second Royston Blake book. We have the same publisher, so I was stoked (chuffed, for your readers) to get advance copies. After that, depending on reading obligations, I’ve got I WAS LOOKING FOR A STREET by Charles Willeford and KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED by Craig Johnson on the top of the stack.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. Reading is pleasure. Writing is work.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
“Drinky. Fighty. Fun.” Oh, and the answer to the quiz question is: Braveheart (Bray-Fart).
Johnny Shaw’s DOVE SEASON is published by Amazon Encore.
“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.