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?
A STUDY IN SCARLET by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and then every other Holmes/Watson excursion). I just love the style of his writing, the way in which he captured the time - the courtesy, the camaraderie, the thoroughness and dedication. This story really set up the principle characters, their partnership and the tone of the series that he maintained so well throughout the many years that he created these stories. I’m a huge fan and would love to write the way that he did. Sadly, I can only aspire to that standard ... but, I live in hope!
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
The character I would most like to have been is Dr John Watson. Far from being Sherlock’s sidekick as was portrayed in old movies and some treatments on television, Watson was a medical man with an outstanding military service record. He had enough wit to be Sherlock’s loyal intellectual companion, along with sufficient brawn to be his protector at the appropriate time. I would have loved being involved in the solving of those now iconic cases, and all the insight they provided into the human condition.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
There’s a great local writer here, a Canadian/Australian named Tara Moss who writes great contemporary crime fiction from a decidedly female perspective. Very strong. Great stories. I really enjoy them.
Most satisfying writing moment?
After writing my first book, DEFENDER, over a period of ten years - which I began on my return from East Timor in 2000 - the most satisfying moment was completing my second book, HUNTER, in just six months on a deadline for my publisher. I guess it was just great to prove to myself that I was able to churn out the story as fast as my clumsy two-fingered-typing style could achieve. By that stage, the story was so much in my head that I had to get Alex Morgan’s latest adventure onto the page.
If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
In all honesty, I am yet to knowingly read an Irish crime author. That said, the one that I currently have on my TBR list is Borderlands by Brian McGilloway. I’ve always been intrigued by the contemporary history of Ireland, North & South, and so I am looking forward to discovering McGilloway’s work.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: The uncertainty of if/when all the hard work will actually pay off. Best: Those rare days when you can really feel that all the hard work and sacrifice is starting to pay off.
The pitch for your next book is …?
Alex Morgan has taken on gunrunners in DEFENDER and fugitive war criminals in HUNTER. Now in AVENGER he’s taking Intrepid’s first female agent into the centre of hell as together they bring to justice the masterminds of a global human trafficking cartel.
Who are you reading right now?
I find it really hard to read other action novels when I’m writing one. So I actually prefer to watch movies in my down time – sometimes it’ll be classic war movies like A Bridge Too Far or The Eagle Has Landed; sometimes it’ll be my favourite Bond action sequences, the new Hawaii-50, or the latest contemporary take on Holmes & Watson such as the BBC’s Sherlock or the US treatment Elementary. That said, I do enjoy returning to a story or two from Arthur Conan Doyle’s collected works or when I really needed inspiration I turn to Ian Fleming time and time again.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write. As long as others can read my stories, then I’ll be content just getting them out of the lumber room, my mind, and onto a page.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Contemporary. Action. Realism.
Chris Allen’s HUNTER is published by Momentum.
“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.