“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.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Lisa Alber

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?
This may sound perverse, but I’d love to channel the darkness that burbles around inside Gillian Flynn. She’s wicked! Have you seen photos of her? Looks like she bakes pies for homeless people. Any of her novels will do: SHARP OBJECTS, DARK PLACES, or GONE GIRL.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Fictional characters go through too many hardships and conflicts before their happy endings. I’m too lazy for all that. There’s gotta be a sidekick out there who lives a charmed life and is only around enough to support the hero. That’s more my speed. Anyone got any ideas for me?

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
DA VINCI CODE-type thrillers are my guilty pleasures because I love all that Catholic Church conspiracy stuff. I also like pseudo-scientific symbology stuff that incorporates our greatest myths into the story lines. I just finished a thriller centred around the Amazons. Fun stuff.

Most satisfying writing moment?
The “a-ha.” You know when you’re writing along, maybe it’s not going well, but you’re slapping down the words anyhow (knowing you’ll have a helluva rewrite later), and then somehow, you lose sense of yourself and time and the world around you, and then later you come to and an hour has passed and you can’t remember what you wrote exactly, but you know it’s something grand? Yeah, that. That’s what I love. It’s rare, but the potential is always there. Also, the a-ha moment when you’re writing along and all of a sudden a fantastic idea comes to you out of nowhere -- a plot twist or character revelation -- and you feel so euphoric, the best high ever, that you jump out of your chair and do a little jig that causes your cat to tear out of the room? Yeah, that too.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
I’m still in Irish-crime-novel discovery mode! Some of the obvious recommendations for people like me who aren’t as well-read as they could be are Tana French and Benjamin Black (a.k.a. John Banville) – and you too. Immediate curiosity has me leaning toward checking out Arlene Hunt, Adrian McKinty, Declan Hughes, and Bartholomew Gill (although he’s Irish-American) next.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Benjamin Black’s first mystery, CHRISTINE FALLS, would make a fabulous movie. I picture something stylized, gritty, atmospheric, and filmed in a limited palette (neo-noir Mulholland Drive comes to mind). The way the central mystery about dead Christine slowly circles in on the starring detective’s family baggage is great. Plus, it’s got Catholic Church stuff in it. Like I said above, I can’t get enough of that.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Right now, the worst thing about being a novelist is my need for a day J-O-B. It’s a creative energy sucker, that’s for sure. I struggle to find energy to get the fiction writing in--before work, after work, on weekends. I’m the kind of person who needs long swaths of down time to stay centred and to rejuvenate. The best things are the ‘a-ha’ moments I described above.

The pitch for your next book is ...?
My debut novel, KILMOON, just came out. It’s set in County Clare, the first in a series.

“Family secrets, betrayal, and vengeance from beyond the grave … Merrit Chase is about to meet her long-lost father. Californian Merrit Chase travels to Ireland to meet her father, a celebrated matchmaker, in hopes that she can mend her troubled past. Instead, her arrival triggers a rising tide of violence, and Merrit finds herself both suspect and victim, accomplice and pawn, in a manipulative game that began thirty years previously. When she discovers that the matchmaker’s treacherous past is at the heart of the chaos, she must decide how far she will go to save him from himself—and to get what she wants, a family.”

I’m working on the second novel in the series, for the moment called Grey Man. Things get personal, oh so personal, when a teenage boy dies and disaster hits Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern’s family as a result.

Who are you reading right now?
I’m trying out an author I’ve never read before: James Barney, THE JOSHUA STONE. Another in the realm of guilty pleasures because it features secret government experiments and voodoo science.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I could give up writing if I had to (it’s freaking hard work!), but never reading. Reading goes along with those long swaths of down time I require.

The three best words to describe your own writing are ...?
Atmospheric, multi-layered, and intricate.

KILMOON is Lisa Alber’s debut novel.

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