“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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Claire McGowan

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?
I just read Mo Hayder’s TOYKO and it blew me away, to the point that I set it aside and thought, ‘I wish I could write like that’. It was a gripping story, a brilliant evocation of a place, a fascinating character study, and a hugely moving and emotional read. I’m in awe.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Nobody in a crime novel, that’s for sure. Even if you’re not a murder victim you’ll most likely be horribly traumatised by something. Probably someone from a Jilly Cooper novel, dripping in champagne and perfume, a hugely talented rider / TV producer / opera singer, and ending up madly in love with a gorgeous film director / polo player / musician. Sometimes it’s nice to read an unreservedly happy ending.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
As you can see above, I’m a big fan of Jilly Cooper, when I want to read something gripping, heart-warming, and glamorous. I’ve re-read most of hers at least ten times. I don’t feel guilty about it though. I feel guiltier about buying Heat magazine instead of all my unread copies of the London Review of Books.

Most satisfying writing moment?
I think it’s when a new story starts to take shape in your mind, and you feel excited about working on it, heart racing, palms sweating. When I’m editing I sometimes dream about leaving the old boring book for a thrilling new one. But you have to try to work things out.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
I’ve heard it described loosely as one, so I’ll risk saying Roddy Doyle’s THE WOMAN WHO WALKED INTO DOORS. I like books that can make me cry, and that one did, a lot. I can still recite bits of it from memory and I read it years ago.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I just read Stuart Neville’s COLLUSION, and thought it would work very well as a film, especially the dramatic end scene. I’d love to see someone make a crime series set in Ireland. Surely it’s about time.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best thing is working on something creative all day, and immersing yourself in a story. Oh, and being able to work in your pyjamas, of course. The worst thing is the insecurity of always wondering are you any good, will people like what you do, is someone reading your book right now and enjoying/not enjoying it, can you write another book that works, etc. You can talk to people about what you’re doing, but it doesn’t always help, so most of the time, you’re on your own.

The pitch for your next book is …?
My next book is about a woman whose life is turned upside down when her mother dies and she finds out who her father really is. As she learns that nothing in her apparently ordinary life is what it seems, she and her young daughter are thrown into terrible danger. It’s a psychological thriller with echoes of REBECCA and JANE EYRE.

Who are you reading right now?
An Irish writer, as it happens – William Ryan’s THE BLOODY MEADOW. So far it’s great- I could tell from page one I was in the hands of an expert.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
These are hard questions, aren’t they? Can I get a note from my Mum so I don’t have to answer? If you insist, probably reading. It would be sad, but I know I’d never produce anything good if I just wrote in a vacuum.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Unsettling. Emotional. Foreshadow-y (or a good word I learned today and plan to use more – ‘presageful’).

Claire McGowan’s debut novel The Fall is published by Headline.

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