“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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

“There Was A Young Man Called Bill Ryan …”

William Ryan, the author of the Captain Korolev series of novels, will be leading a creative writing workshop in the Limerick Writers’ Centre on May 25th. Not a workshop on how to write limericks, you understand – the emphasis will be on developing characters for fiction, and the workshop will cost you the princely sum of five euros. Sounds like a bargain to me.
  If I’m not very much mistaken, as I very often am, the workshop will coincide with the Limerick launch of William Ryan’s latest tome, THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT (Mantle), which is published on May 23rd. Quoth the blurb elves:
Moscow, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer. It soon emerges that the victim, a man who it appears would stop at nothing to fulfil his ambitions, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power. When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors’ dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realise that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he’s caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD. And then his son Yuri goes missing . . . A desperate race against time, set against a city gripped by Stalin’s Great Terror and teeming with spies, street children and Thieves, THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT confirms William Ryan as one of the most compelling historical crime novelists at work today.
  Meanwhile, William Ryan and I had a very enjoyable conversation on the business of writing in the last couple of weeks, the result of which has been posted at Shotsmag and the Mystery Tribune. To wit:
“There’s a bigger issue at play here too, and it taps into your question about ‘being Irish’. I was born and raised in Sligo in the Northwest of Ireland, but my cultural experiences growing up were American movies and books, British books and music, and football, European movies, Dutch beer … all these things, and more, were as important in forming my appreciation of culture as any and all of the Irish elements. And if I’m going to write, and be true to my experience of what brought me to the point where I want to write, then I’d be a hypocrite not to include, or at least acknowledge, those influences. That’s why EIGHTBALL BOOGIE (and to a lesser extent its sequel, SLAUGHTER’S HOUND) is so heavily influenced by Raymond Chandler in particular, and the American hardboiled novel in general. Why THE BIG O is influenced by Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen and Barry Gifford.
  “I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with living in a post-colonial country. Ireland has been overlaid with any number of cultures over the past thousand years, and more. And then there’s the fact that emigration has played such an important part in Irish history, and that emigrants bring back all these cultural artefacts and incorporate them into the mix. Do we even know what ‘being Irish’ means?”
  For the rest, clickety-click on Shotsmag or Mystery Tribune.

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