“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.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Flash! It May Save Every One Of Us …

I had a piece on flash fiction published in the Irish Times a couple of weeks ago, and the response to it was phenomenal. Not to my piece, per se, but to the fact that the Irish Times requested examples of flash fiction. In fact, so impressive was the response - in quality and quantity - that the Irish Times today publishes a selection of flash fiction, a feature that is to become a regular item in the newspaper. As far as I know, submission is open to all, regardless of where you’re from. First, the feature:
Flash fiction – very short, bite-sized stories – has become the favourite form of many writers. It’s succinct, punchy and effective – perfect for the online reader and perfectly in synch with the times, writes DECLAN BURKE

LESS HAS always been more in the writing of fiction, but “flash fiction” takes the concept to a whole new level. In essence, a flash fiction is a very short short story, the classic example being attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
  “Flash fiction appeals because it gets right to the heart of human experience in just a few words,” says author Alison Wells. “Its brevity and condensed resonance make sure it lingers in the mind and heart. It has the power of a poem but with greater clarity and accessibility.”
  Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a novelist, poet and short-story writer. “Lovers of flash fiction, like poets, value brevity and the hit of surprise that flash often delivers,” she says. “A good flash story is intense, urgent and often a little explosive, but also deep and clear, so the effect on the reader is like that of a poem – as you read it you admire its concision and, afterwards, it lingers.” The format is quickly gaining credibility. The Dublin Review of Books , for example, announced Ní Chonchúir as the winner of its second annual flash fiction competition recently, securing her a prize of €1,000.
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  For today’s samples of flash fiction in the Irish Times, clickety-click here
  Anyone wishing to submit examples of their flash fiction should email them to flashfiction@irishtimes.com.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Devil Is In The Detail

I tend not to cover true crime books on Crime Always Pays, but here’s an intriguing prospect I’ve been meaning to bring you for a few weeks now. It’s THE BOY IN THE ATTIC by David Malone, and sounds as if it’ll make for very fascinating reading. To wit:
The disturbing exploration of a previously unreported murder of a young boy by a Satan-worshipping teenager in 1970s Ireland … On a bright and sunny June afternoon, a seven-year-old boy was left in the care of his teenage neighbour. No one knew, or would even have dreamed of suspecting, that the teenager was a Satanist. The two went out to the fields to look for rabbits. The child was never seen alive again. For the first time, in THE BOY IN THE ATTIC, David Malone reveals the exact events of that summer day: how the youngster was lured to his death, how the teenager came to delve so deeply into the occult, and the nightmarish scene awaiting police when they entered the attic. But there is another disturbing question - how is it that this murder, which was easily one of the most shocking and horrific in living memory, was barely reported upon at all? Why have you never heard of the boy in the attic until now?
  Sounds like the devil, quite literally, is in the detail. For an extract from THE BOY IN THE ATTIC, clickety-click here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Troubles? We Don’t Need No Stinking Troubles

Good vibes for Stuart Neville’s latest tome, STOLEN SOULS, which appears to be stealing as many hearts as it does nebulous spiritual manifestations of the human spirit, or souls. This review comes courtesy of Denise Hamilton in the LA Times, which kicks off in no uncertain manner, declaring in the standfirst that STOLEN SOULS is ‘a masterpiece of hard-edged, fast-paced Irish crime fiction’. Crikey. But stay! There’s more! For it opens thusly:
“The Irish crime fiction wave rises to new heights with Stuart Neville’s third novel, the tight, telescopic thriller STOLEN SOULS. The writing here is mature and assured: there are no extraneous words or characters, no discussion of Northern Ireland’s long and sorrowful ‘Troubles’. We are beyond politics, beyond the Celtic Tiger and its financial meltdown, mired in a crumbling 21st century Belfast wasteland where Lithuanian gangs bed down with Ulster Loyalists and Republicans as law enforcement looks the other way.” - Denise Hamilton
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood to be soothed by Stuart’s dulcet tones, he was interviewed about STOLEN SOULS last week on Ireland AM. Roll it there, Collette

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise And ‘Concealed Homophobia’

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I got to sit down with Lee Child (right), to interview him for the Irish Examiner on the publication of the latest Jack Reacher tome, THE AFFAIR. A very interesting conversation it was, too, especially when Child discussed the negative reaction to the casting of Tom Cruise as Reacher, which he believes is in part a kind of ‘concealed homophobia’. To wit:
SIZE may or may not matter, but for author Lee Child, height certainly isn’t an issue. Particularly if it means that his famously tall hero, ex-US army MP Jack Reacher, will be played in the movies by the diminutive Tom Cruise.
  “Making movies is incredibly complicated,” says Child. “Somebody once advanced the metaphor that you’ve got a hundred extension cords, and they’re all a foot too short. So there are a thousand things to worry about, but an exact physical facsimile of the printed character is not one of them, no.”
  Child is fully appreciative of the fact that Jack Reacher’s fans have been up in arms about the casting of Cruise. “I’m very grateful for the way the character seems to have entered people’s consciousness,” he says. “The ownership of the character has migrated outwards, so that every reader now has a stake in Reacher.”
  By the same token, he believes there’s something sinister in the aggressively negative reaction.
  “I think a lot of this negative anger is a kind of concealed homophobia among certain people,” he says. “I mean, this persistent rumour that Cruise is gay, and the comments about his smallness and his prettiness, smacks to me of something that is not quite all revealed yet.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Monday, October 31, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Gerard Brennan

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?
DIVORCING JACK by (Colin) Bateman. It was the first Northern Irish crime fiction novel I read and everything about it seemed real, familiar and exciting. I’ve reread it a few times and it’s aged well. It’s everything a Northern Irish crime novel should be and, as a writer who wants to produce convincing and commercial crime fiction with an NI slant, it’s the perfect yardstick. I’ll never be as funny as Bateman but I can aim to be as good.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Inspector Ben Devlin from Brian McGilloway’s series, but with my real-life wife, kids and dog. He’s just a good guy.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
My daughter’s DIARY OF A WIMPY KID books. They’re amazing. Generally I don’t feel guilt for reading anything but in this case it stems from the fact that I refuse to read Mr Men books to her in favour of Jeff Kinney’s work. Selfish.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Those rare days when you read over the work you’ve produced and think, this is actually pretty good.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
This week? THE BURNNIG SOUL by John Connolly. There’s a tonne of great Irish crime out there and each time I read a new one it jostles to the top to become king of the castle. I’ve a feeling that Adrian McKinty’s COLD, COLD GROUND will snatch the crown next.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Stuart Neville’s COLLUSION. The Traveller is the perfect villain. A foul-mouthed terminator.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst is the anxiety, heartache and self-torture that I’ve put myself through along the way. The best is taking all that negative crap and making positive use of it (i.e. putting it into the current work-in-progress). Cheap therapy.

The pitch for your next book is …?
‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ with Belfast accents. They use movies and TV shows to pitch books quite a lot these days. Have you noticed that?

Who are you reading right now?
Just finished HALF BLOOD BLUES by Esi Edugyan. Great book. I read the Booker shortlist for an event at Derry Central Library the night the winner was announced. It’s something I haven’t done before but it’s been a very interesting exercise. I’m mostly surprised by how much I enjoyed some of them. Next up are STOLEN SOULS by Stuart Neville and an ARC of COLD, COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty. Score.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. Definitely read. I love writing but it’s hard work and a compulsion that carries a lot of guilt. ‘Why aren’t you writing? Why aren’t you writing. Hey, Gerard, Why aren’t you writing?’ If God takes that voice away with my ability/permission to write, then fine. I’ve a lot of reading to catch up on.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
“Dark but fun.”

Gerard Brennan’s THE POINT is now available on Kindle. You can catch Gerard Brennan at Belfast’s No Alibis this evening, 6pm, where he will be launching THE POINT alongside Arlene Hunt, who will be launching her latest novel, THE CHOSEN.