“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.

Friday, May 1, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Marnie Riches

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?
The Silence of the Lambs should have been by me and not that Thomas Harris. Although, if I’d written it, there would have been some terrible swearing and scenes of a sexual nature in it that didn’t necessarily involve cannibalism or fava beans. But still, what a great baddy! Hannibal Lecter was the first villain I had fallen for since Darth Vader.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Probably Lisbeth Salander, who inspired, in no small part, my heroine, George McKenzie. Salander is whizzy with technology and surly. I’m a luddite and loud-mouth. I don’t do silent and smouldering well at all, which Salander does. It’s that Scandinavian vs Celt/Eastern European Mancunian thing. I come from a long line of big-gobbed tough women. We don’t do poise or studied cool. Plus, Salander always seems to have good hair. I’m a middle-aged woman. My hairline is receding. My appendages are hitting the deck. It’s not nice on any level. Anyway, though George McKenzie is young and kickass like Salander, she is gobby like me (although she has a reassuringly hairy head).

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I read an awful lot of children’s fiction – hardly surprising, since I started out as a children’s author. Children’s fiction is written in a sparing and economical way, which gives an adventure novel a real sense of urgency. Middle-grade is my favourite age banding. I love Eoin Colfer, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and the Young Bond series by Charlie Higson and now, Steve Cole.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When I’ve spent an entire day, writing one paragraph and trying to get a clever metaphor just right. These are the bits I agonise over, but when I read them back, I think, wow. I can actually write. Then I get the odd one star howler back that says I went off at a tangent or that they had to skip a paragraph because “it got boring”. Those are the clever bits, you one-star-howling berk!!

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
Now, I had to take this under advisement, since I can’t claim to have read widely in the Irish crime genre. My friend and book reviewer, Bookwitch, tells me the best crime novels are Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series. I couldn’t specify one in particular and neither would she.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Declan Burke’s Crime Always Pays. It’s a very funny, very visual crime novel. The tight plotting, great dialogue and intriguing characters are all there. Humour and crime translate well to the big screen, as demonstrated by my favourites, In Bruges and The Guard.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst thing about being a writer is getting that one star howler of a review. There’s always some smart arse who sussed the killer by page ten, or who really couldn’t get any of your characters and thought the whole thing was tedious beyond belief. You can’t quite believe a story that took you years to write – two, in the case of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die – can be dismissed in a short paragraph. That bit SUCKS, as does watching your book slide back in the Amazon rankings into obscurity. On the bright side, the best bit is ... well, most of it. I love working alone, talking to myself aloud about plot points, allowing my characters to become real to me, picking my nose without fear of discovery, sitting in my pyjama bottoms without fear of fashion or hygiene judgement. All the things you get up to when you’re in a small, enclosed space without supervision and with the aid of alcoholic drink ... Then, realising post-publication that people love what I’ve written and totally get my characters and absolutely didn’t sodding work out who the killer was by page ten. Those are the best bits.

The pitch for your next book is …?
In The Girl Who Broke the Rules – book 2 of the George McKenzie series – the heroine, George, gets to hang out with a grade A perv who equals Hannibal Lecter in both his finesse, his intellectual prowess and his aptitude for murder. George, together with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen of the Dutch police, must work out who is committing a string of brutal serial killings, where victims are sliced open and emptied of their innards! There’s sex, drugs and shenanigans in Amsterdam’s red light district. It’s Silence of the Lambs meets Trainspotting!

Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading Jo Nesbo’s The Son right now, along with Angela Marsons’ Silent Scream, but I’ve just finished The Farm by Tom Rob Smith which I enjoyed hugely.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write. Sometimes, all the naughty just has to come out.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Gritty, gripping, intelligent. Well, you could swap intelligent for naughty if you’re, you know, a bit funny about the swearing and the nookie and the violence.

THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE by Marnie Riches is published by Maze.

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