Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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, June 13, 2008

A GONZO NOIR: A Short Interlude, And Two Questions

“As one or two of you may or may not have noticed, failed writer Declan Burke (right), embittered but still passable handsome, recently began publishing a novel, A GONZO NOIR, to this blog. Basically, the idea was that a character from a draft I’d written five years ago stepped out of the pages of the m/s and demanded a rewrite, as he – Karlsson – was trapped in limbo. It was an intriguing prospect, so I agreed. Unfortunately, the character – now calling himself Billy – decided that he needed at least a little autonomy when it came to deciding his fate.
  “That’s understandable on one level, as Karlsson / Billy, who works as a hospital porter, is something of a sociopath who is being investigated by the cops because aging patients have begun to die in what appear to be ‘Angel of Mercy’ assisted deaths; furthermore, Billy is now plotting to blow up the hospital.
  “Were I in his shoes, I too would want to believe that my fate wasn’t entirely in the hands of someone like me.
  “On the other hand, collaboration doesn’t come easy to me in any walk of life, and writing especially appeals to me as a private, solitary business.
  “What matters there is that Billy, as a character trapped in limbo, has nothing to lose. I, on the other hand, have a family and a young daughter, Lily, whom Aileen found in the garden shed after I’d had a dispute with Billy, this despite the fact that Lily is as yet unable to crawl.
  “So you can appreciate that there are issues that will have to be dealt with. I’ve already tried burning the manuscript, only to discover that, as Billy put it, the genie is already out of the bottle. For now there is an uneasy détente between us, as I wait to see what it is he will contribute to the story. Given that Billy will be reading this, you can appreciate that I shouldn’t really say any more than that for now.
  “There are, however, other issues, chief among them the technical aspect of revealing a story section-by-section. Serial instalments, of course, have a proud history, going all the way back to Homer and THE ILLIAD. Unfortunately, a blog doesn’t lend itself to the kind of seamless narrative that makes a story easy to read, as any reader who might come to the story as we go forward will need to go back in time in order to catch up. This is at best inelegant and at worst pointless, as most interweb surfers will simply not bother to click the relevant link.
  “So here’s what I’m proposing to do. Instead of uploading the novel section by section to Crime Always Pays, I’m thinking of uploading the story to a separate blog so that it reads the way a narrative should. As we are still redrafting as we go along, this means the story will be incomplete and a little rough around the edges, to put it mildly – in fact, it’s the writing equivalent of washing your dirty laundry in public.
  “From a reader’s point of view, however, a separate blog means the story can be read in a linear fashion and be more easily digestible than the way it is being uploaded here. And, as I’m a reader before I’m a writer, and always will, the idea appeals.
  “So, dear readers – all three of you – what say you? Yay or nay to A GONZO NOIR on a separate blog in a linear fashion that allows you to simply scroll down to the latest instalment?”


bookwitch said...

Why are you asking the other two?

Well, if my opinion isn't enough on its own, I'll just say that your idea isn't too stupid. Will we get help with this scrolling down to the newest bit, then?

Alternately, just print the whole thing out and send it by post ...

Claire Coughlan said...

As reader number two, I say: totally yay

Gerard Brennan said...

Hello, sir

As reader number 2, I think that it's a very good idea to dedicate a separate blog to A Gonzo Noir.

Do you think there's any merit in offering a newsletter type deal, in that when a new instalment goes live you shoot off anyone who asks a quick mail to let them know? Or maybe even post a wee heads up on CAP? Purely selfish reasons. It'll save me checking in and scrolling down every day.


J. Kingston Pierce said...

I say "yay" to the idea of creating a separate blog for A GONZO NOIR. However, you should still mention in Crime Always Pays that new installments of the novel are being launched. But you already know to do that, don't you ...


Josh Schrank said...

I have selfish motives, but I think it's a great idea. I usually read the your blog on my little ipod touch screen, and it takes forever to scroll past the installments after reading them so that I can read the reviews. Yes, I'm lazy. Yes, you should do a lot more work so I don't have to flick my finger four extra times. I'm American.

Declan Burke said...

Cheers, folks ... Yes, the technical side of things will need a little tweaking, as I'd like to make it as simple as possible for readers to follow the story ... and that will include heads-ups on CAP. Ta for the support, I'm really much obliged. Cheers, Dec

Anonymous said...

I agree; a separate blog would be easier to follow. Maybe a brief blog post at CAP with a link to each new installment would help, but so long as a feed is available from the Gonzo site, your growing cast of readers (there must be at least half a dozen by now) will stay informed.

Josh Schrank said...

Dec, I'm curious. Do you get statistics on how many different people browse your blog each day?

Declan Burke said...

Mmmm ... 'a growing cast of readers'? Sounds like there might be a book in that. Josh, I have an idea of how many people drop by, nothing too specific but usually lots more than I expect. Cheers, Dec

Donna said...

As reader number 5745, I say yippee! What a great idea. And I think rather than announcing each new instalment on CAP, you should announce it on Lily's blog because...well...because I'm MUCH more likely to read that :o)

maxine said...

Blog stats don't count the millions of eager readers like me who follow Dec's and other blogs via RSS.
Anyway, as the sixth reader (? counting not too good), yes, a separate blog is a good idea- you can always write the odd "alert" post/link on this one to remind readers -- and keep everyone out of Lily's hair (if she still has any).

I hope this is a suitable "harsh but fair dominatrix" comment.