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?
THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE by James M. Cain. It’s got so many elements that make it such a tragic and emotional read. Of course the lesson is there -- regardless of circumstances, you don’t profit from crime, even crimes of passion. Not that everyone would agree with that, particularly in the current climate. But this is a story that pulls you in so many directions but ultimately breaks your heart. It is a crime story, but a very credible and human one. If a story lacks humanity, somewhere, then it struggles to be told.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Where to start . . . lots of fictional characters I love as fictional characters, but then there are characters in fiction that are so vividly portrayed that they sit better in an everyday world. One jumps out, the character Ed in James Dickey’s novel, DELIVERANCE, so brilliantly played Jon Voight in the film. He is the one who rises above the horror of the situation the group find themselves in -- not only against their pursuers, but against the natural elements -- and comes out the cool hero. Although in the book Ed is a balding, pudgy character in his forties somewhere; so I would prefer the Jon Voight version if that’s okay.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
My last ‘guilty pleasure’ was Stephen King’s FULL DARK, NO STARS. Why King is classified as a ‘guilty pleasure’ is a mystery to me. As he is one of the greatest story tellers there is and while there were a couple of tales in this collection that disappointed the first, 1922, is one of the darkest and most original stories I’ve read in years. My only other crib here . . . the cover image of the night sky? There were lots of stars on it. Something in that perhaps?
Most satisfying writing moment?
There have been a couple. In terms of actual writing, there was a ‘eureka’ moment in a novel called THE RUSSIAN DOLL, which came to me when I went to a Russian exclave called Kaliningrad to research the book. I needed a strong plot twist and couldn’t come up with one. I spent a fortune getting there and it was the weirdest place I’ve ever visited. But while I was there I got what I needed and finished the book. It’s on the way . . . I hope. In terms of satisfaction as a writer, getting the first copy of GABRIEL’S GATE home. It was almost three in the morning and I was soused and pickled but I sat up and savoured the moment. That book has a long history, a long wait, and I had actually abandoned it a long time ago. So holding a physical copy I thought I would never get to hold was incredible. Of course, the hard work starts now. But at least it gets the ball rolling at a time when I was literally on the verge of dropping out of the game altogether because of so many other commitments.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Martin Dillon’s THE SHANKHILL BUTCHERS still makes me shudder every time. I normally read a book that grips me several times; but this could only be read once. Of course it wasn’t fiction, so in terms of a novel, I’ll give it to John Banville’s THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE. I was reading a lot of Camus at the time as a student and this sat comfortably with the mood I was in.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Quite a few now ... but will take a punt on something by Declan Hughes being grabbed soon; maybe Tana French.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
You’re never satisfied. Even when you reach a goal, you don’t even want to stand long enough to give yourself a round of applause. All you’re thinking is . . . now what will I do?
The pitch for your next book is …?
It’s set in Mexico and concerns a group of travellers on their last trip as a circle of friends who unwittingly become involved in, how should I put it, an ‘existential kidnapping’ in the jungles of the Yucatan. Have I coined a new phrase? Perhaps a new genre?
Who are you reading right now?
Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy; it was on my list for some time as I have read so much of this great man’s work. I began it before revising GABRIEL’S GATE but had to drop it because there was no time. As with all of McCarthy’s books, it kicks, punches, shocks and caresses the soul all in equal measures. Also at my elbow is Arlene Hunt’s new book, THE CHOSEN, and Declan Burke’s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. One at a time folks . . .
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Read me please.
Tom Galvin’s GABRIEL’S GATE is published by Book Republic.
“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.