“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, March 4, 2013

Harry Rigby: The ‘Lost Get Back Boogie’ Years


I was ‘down home’, as we say, in Sligo last weekend, and went for a stroll on the shores of Lough Gill early on Sunday morning, which was where my good lady wife took the photograph above. It was incredibly still and peaceful, as the shot suggests, and it got me thinking about a ‘lost’ Harry Rigby novel, which is largely set around and on the lake.
  For those of you unfamiliar with Sligo’s geography, by the way, Lough Gill is about five miles from Sligo’s city centre; the Garavogue river empties out of Lough Gill and wends its leisurely way through Sligo and on out to the Atlantic.
  Anyway, I got back to Wicklow from Sligo and had a rummage through my old files, in search of the ‘lost’ Harry Rigby. And lo! It transpires that there are in fact three Harry Rigby novels gathering dust in the files, as well as a standalone thriller set in the Greek islands.
  The books were actually written when I was living in Sligo. I wrote EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, the first Harry Rigby story, while living in Dublin; when I heard it was going to be published, I thought it’d be no harm to take a little time off from the day job and write another book, to have it ready when (koff) publishing’s ravening hordes came kicking down my front door.
  And so, being single and with no great financial commitments, I took a year off and worked part-time as a teacher, and wrote a sequel to EIGHTBALL. It wasn’t published due to reasons far too boring to get into here, but by the time it wasn’t published I was two years into my sabbatical and writing like a demon. During that period I wrote the three Harry Rigby novels and the Greek islands thriller mentioned above, roughly 80% of what became ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, and all of THE BIG O. I also wrote a heap of short stories and about two drafts of a book I like to call THE GOD OF LIGHT AND MICE, which has since received three or four more drafts, and which will be my next writing project – if I can find the time.
  In the meantime, I’m sorely tempted to publish the Harry Rigby novels as e-books. I bought back the rights to EIGHTBALL BOOGIE a couple of years ago, and e-published that, and the other three books – well, they’re just lying around gathering dust. I’ve since written SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, a Harry Rigby novel published last year by the good people at Liberties Press, but the three unpublished stories are of a piece with EIGHTBALL and SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, and would work well as a series, I think.
  Given how well EIGHTBALL has done for me as an e-book, I have to say it’s the classic no-brainer. What that then means in terms of my future vis-à-vis the publishing industry, however, I have no idea.
  I think it might be fun to find out, though.

11 comments:

Rick Ollerman said...

So you *are* related to James Lee Burke....

Declan Burke said...

Heh. Unfortunately, the use of 'Burke' and 'Boogie' in close proximity do not (always) a great book make.

Dana King said...

Sounds like a plan. That's another great thing about e-books. It allows you to see if the industry might have missed the boat on projects the author feels were well done.

Declan Burke said...

A good point, Dana. I should say that only one of the books has previously seen the light of day (i.e., gone forward to an agent). It was on the point of being published and then an objection was raised to a sub-plot, which I refused to change on the basis that the objection was ludicrous.

That said, I have no idea if the books are 'well done' or not ...

Peter Rozovsky said...

Now, that sounds like good news.

P.S. With the subtraction of one letter, my verification word is: g(s)ra mor

Declan Burke said...

Nice one, Peter. Maybe I should take that as an omen ...

Cora Harrison said...

I think, Declan, that your very sincere and very honest sharing of your experiences as a writer - and let's face it, the majority of us are struggling, is what makes your blog so interesting and is what makes people - certainly me - go back to it, time after time again.
I wish you the very best of luck in the future.

lil Gluckstern said...

That would be a treat-as long as we can get the ebooks in the States. Lovely picture, by the way.

Declan Burke said...

Cora, that's a lovely sentiment, and I thank you very kindly. As for the struggles, well, it's all part and parcel of the game, isn't it?

Declan Burke said...

Lil, you'll get a copy of the books if I have to long-haul out there and deliver them by hand myself.

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