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?
Anything and everything by Raymond Chandler. I keep FAREWELL, MY LOVELY and THE LONG GOODBYE within arm’s reach in the study and flip them open to a random page for inspiration. I’ll do it right now: THE LONG GOODBYE, Chapter 39, pg 186: “The inquest was a flop. The coroner sailed into it before the medical evidence was complete, for fear the publicity would die on him. He needn’t have worried. The death of a writer—even a loud writer—is not news for long, and that summer there was too much to compete.”
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
[John D. MacDonald’s] Travis McGee. He’s the second-generation Marlowe, sitting on the bridge of the Busted Flush, Boodles in hand. Nobody hit harder or observed human nature more closely. McGee was a great knight errant, which is, after all, what we’re creating here most of the time.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Jack Higgins, especially the early ones. I know what he’s doing, I know what’s coming, but I can’t look away. Sit down, open to page one, don’t look up until the book is done, except to carry the book to the fridge to get another Smithwicks.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Writing the first paragraph, when you know you’ve shoved the boulder over the cliff.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Tough one. I’d have to say I was terribly impressed by Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE. Every word was charged, like the thing was written in a single high-velocity blast. Between that book and COLLUSION I picture him not sitting down to write again, but reloading. Five in the magazine, one in the chamber.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Tough one. Of late, I’ve been revisiting Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor (even better second time through). I’d love to see a director and actor bring Taylor to life on the screen and not just the reckless destruction (self and otherwise), but the true root of it. The appeal of Taylor isn’t just his cynical but unswayable code of honor but the dark mystery behind it.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The blank screen. Full of promise but at the same time terrifying.
The pitch for your next book is …?
Young Brandon Blake thinks becoming a cop will be his ticket to a world of right and wrong, good and evil. Turns out to be true but they’re all jumbled up. Friend or foe? Perp or victim? Pull the trigger or hold your fire? You’ve got two seconds to answer the question: Who can you trust? Answer wrong and the game’s over. That was the pitch. Book is PORT CITY BLACK AND WHITE.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
You sure that wouldn’t be the Devil? I’d have to say the writing. Going without would gnaw at me and numbing that ache would lead me to very bad habits.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Lyrical, spare, honest. At least that’s the goal. Oh, that blank screen. No getting away with anything ...
Gerry Boyle’s PORT CITY BLACK AND WHITE is available on Kindle.
“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.