“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.

Friday, December 2, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Colette Ni Reamonn Ioannidou

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?
POMPEII by Robert Harris, set in the year of my birth – not totally crime-crime but an engineer has to solve a mystery and does. It has a magic cake mix for me, ancient history and superb writing.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Princess Leia from the Star Wars series. She wears great bikinis, gets up close and uncomfortable with Jaba the Hutt (who, in reality, outside my delusions, looks more like me) and lives through it. And she has doughnuts over her ears, so she’s never short of a snack.

Who do I read for guilty pleasure?
Other people’s clever quotes. Why guilty? I never remember them. The one I keep close even though how close it is to the original saying, who knows, is one by Confucius: ‘He who flatters a man is his downfall. He who tells him of his faults is his maker.’

Most satisfying writing moment?
The dawning belief that I really wouldn’t go to hell if I wrote about rude words and sex in my stories. I tell my shocked (female) friends, ‘It was God that put the sex in man, and it’s not God’s fault (or mine) if men found rude words to describe it.’

The best Irish crime novel is …
WHO SLAUGHTERED THE CELTIC TIGER by Weall Wantaknow. (Cecilia Ahern is here [in Cyprus] in translation! Bet Irish crime isn’t.) However, I read reviews and there are some fine Irish writers of the genre on the scene if reviews are to be believed. I’m not lickin’ up, honest, I loved ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL but that was far more than just a novel with a crime. That story goes under cerebral genre. It had so much of the “wow, that’s cool, intelligent writing, that’s something deep to think about” element that is not the stuff of the ‘ordinary’ formulaic crime read. And I’ve read more formula crime than babies have formula. I loved the Wexford series (years ago – nothing to do with Wexford in Ireland, sorry) because of the late but smashing George Baker in the role.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
The Quartet from my book TO DIE OR NOT TO DIE. Frank McNally described that as, ‘A dark and twisted tale of secrets, misunderstandings and blighted lives …’ It has all the elements: sex, animals eating human flesh, (which no good crime story should be without!) and people gnawing on each other’s psyches … and a murder.

Worst/best thing about being a writer?
Worst: I lose patience when I can’t type as fast as my brain wants to give out. Best: Getting a book into actual print, holding your dream, as it were.

The pitch for your next book is …
It’s a story of the supernatural and how fascination with celebrity manages to take over the minds of kids to such an extent that the connection disrupts their lives, and the dead star that just won’t lie down and leave them and their shrink alone.

Who are you reading right now?
No one, I’m on the trot trying to promote moi!

God appears and says you can read OR write. Which would it be?
That’s a shite question. (Rude sentence optional.) It’s as the old song says, like a circle in a spiral like a wheel within a wheel … If you write you are reading what you put down, yes? So, one would cancel out the other, right? Or is it early onset Alzheimer’s with mise? I hope St Peter has better questions when I arrive at The Gate; I’m not very bright with trick questions.

Three best words to describe your writing …
Brilliant, beautiful and bullshit.

Colette Ni Reamonn Ioannidou’s TO DIE OR NOT TO DIE is published by Armida Publications.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL: We’re Coming To (North) America

It’s been a very busy week, I have to say, but even so there’s really no excuse for my having missed out on the fact that ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL was officially made available in North America on last Monday, November 28th. Be assured that I’ll be placing myself very firmly on the naughty step just as soon as I’ve finished writing this post …
  But less of the self-flagellation, and more self-promotion. As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, AZC received a very nice big-up last weekend, when it was selected as one of the Sunday Times’ ‘Best Books of the Year’, in a short but perfectly formed précis that began, ‘One of the most memorable books of the year, in any genre, was Declan Burke’s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL …’.
  Erm, you had me at ‘memorable’.
  Meanwhile, and continuing on a theme of shameless self-promotion, there are quite a number of reviews of said tome available to your left. It has also garnered a number of reviews on Amazon.uk and Amazon.com, all of which are of the five-star variety, and not one of which (I promise) was written by yours truly, or any of my family or friends, or indeed, any of the book’s publicists. It’s a little sad that you need to actually say these kinds of things these days, but it appears that that’s the way the world is going, or has gone. Oh, and by the way - if you’ve read the book, and liked it, please feel free to post a review to Amazon. Your reward will be in heaven.
  AZC is also available in e-format here, and if you prefer not to shop with Amazon, it’s also available via Book Depository here.
  Finally, if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, and / or you’re a reviewer for a media outlet, website or blog, and you’d like to receive a review copy of AZC, drop me a line at the email address above and I’ll do my level best to ensure you get a copy. Don’t all rush at once, of course, or else you’ll crash the serv -
  Gah. Too late. Oh well, normal-ish service will be resumed as soon as possible …

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The PEN Is Mightier Than The Sword

I’m a wee bit conflicted, I think, about the overlap between crime fiction and true crime. It’s difficult to argue against the notion that fiction writers are influenced, to some extent at least, by the real crimes that take place beyond their writing caves; by the same token, I’m a bit wary of drawing parallels between a rise in murder statistics, say, and the number of novels being written about murders. Mostly, I think I’m a bit squeamish about the idea that fiction writers can trade in the very real misery and pain that is the consequence of many kinds of crime, all for the sake of it what is, for the greater part, entertainment and profit.
  Anyway, such notions may or may not be discussed at next week’s Irish PEN Event, ‘Crime Writing - Fiction and True Crime’, which takes place at the United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam St., Dublin 2, at 8pm on December 8th. The event will feature three Irish writers: Arlene Hunt, whose current novel is THE CHOSEN, and which opens with a Columbine-style high school massacre; Sandra Mara, a private investigator whose most recent title is DEAD MEN TALK; and Abigail Rieley, a freelance journalist and court reporter who has published two non-fiction crime titles, THE DEVIL IN THE RED DRESS and DEATH ON THE HILL.
  Sounds like a fascinating evening in prospect. All the details, including booking details and fee, can be found on the Irish PEN website

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We Have Nothing To Fear But The Fear Index Itself

I sat down with Robert Harris (right) a couple of weeks ago, to interview him for the Irish Examiner about his latest title, THE FEAR INDEX, and a very enjoyable conversation it was too, incorporating, among other things, the global economic crisis, the Third Reich, his relationship with Roman Polanski, and wayward neutrinos that appear to be travelling faster than the speed of light. It kicks off a lot like this:
“IT’S A colossal story,” says author Robert Harris of the global economic crisis, which forms the backdrop to his latest novel, THE FEAR INDEX. “In its way it’s a much, much bigger story than 9/11. But because it lacks, as it were, the burning towers and the iconic images, we tend to underestimate it. The governor of the Bank of England said yesterday that it’s possibly the worst financial crisis the world has ever seen. So I’m pleased to have written this book, because I’ve always seen myself as a political writer above all else, and it seems to me that this crisis is where politics is right now.”
  Harris began his career as a political writer as a journalist and BBC television reporter, publishing a number of non-fiction titles between 1982 and 1990. “All I’ve ever wanted to do in life is write,” he says, “but I needed to earn a living.” It was his work on SELLING HITLER (1986), an investigation into the hoax ‘Hitler diaries’, that led him to write his first novel, FATHERLAND (1992).
  “In the course of researching [SELLING HITLER],” he says, “I came across all the plans Hitler had for what the world would be like in the Third Reich, and I thought that would be interesting to explore as a non-fiction book. Imagine taking all the sketches and the maps, and the architectural designs, and creating a kind of ‘guide’ to a world that never existed. And then I realised I really couldn’t answer fundamental questions about this world — if one assumes that the world would have settled down to a Berlin-Washington axis, what would have been said about the fact that all the Jews had disappeared? How would that be handled in international relations? Would it be treated the same way as all the people killed by Mao, or what happened in Stalin’s Russia? Would détente have triumphed?
  “So I ended up walking through the looking-glass into a fictional world. And when I got there, I enjoyed it so much that from that moment on, that was all I wanted to do. But it all came through the desire to use fiction as a tool to explain the politics of now and history, and in a way, I’ve always gone on doing that. I’m interested in power, that’s my furrow to plough, as it were.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Gast: Well And Truly Flabbered

I had an unusually busy Sunday yesterday, given that my good lady wife had taken herself off for a well-deserved relaxing weekend in Beirut (!), so it wasn’t until late in the evening, killing time waiting for Match of the Day 2, that I got to glance at the Sunday Times’ Culture section, and particularly the ‘Best Books of the Year’ feature flagged on the cover. Ho, said I, what’s the chances of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL popping up there?
  Erm, quite good, as it happens. For lo! AZC was the lead-off title in the Crime Fiction round-up. To wit:
“Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre, was Declan Burke’s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL (Liberties Press). A writer is talked into rewriting an unpublished novel about a hospital porter who dishes out mercy killings - by a one-eyed man claiming to be that same porter. Burke splices insights into the creative process into a fiendishly dark thriller that evokes the best of Flann O’Brien and Bret Easton Ellis.”
  Consider my gast well and truly flabbered. Given the reviews it has received to date (see left), and its short-listing for the Irish Book Awards, AZC had already wildly over-achieved on expectations. But a ‘Best Book of the Year’ in the Sunday Times? Truly, my cup runneth over …