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.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Charlie Williams

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?
I admire tons of books - even worship some - but don’t wish I had written them. However, there’s one by John Franklin Bardin called THE DEADLY PERCHERON that seemed to be successfully doing a lot of the things that I try to do, so I guess I wish I had written it.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Probably a boring, minor character. Most great protagonists are seriously flawed in some way, which is what makes them great but doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness for them. Added to that, my favourite crime novels are the noir ones, where the hero is always doomed. But it would be cool to see a werewolf or a ghost or something, wouldn’t it? OK, Arthur Holmwood from COUNT DRACULA - he gets to help destroy Dracula. Plus he inherits a massive estate during the story.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t feel guilty for anything I read. Books, anyway. I hate the idea of certain genres of books having more worth than others. You know what? I’d rather be seen reading something trashy than the latest Booker-nominated snooze-fest. But sometimes I’m caught looking at things like Hello magazine, so I guess that is the answer.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Any time I have actually laughed at something I’ve just written ... good or bad.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
RILKE ON BLACK by Ken Bruen. Not actually set in Ireland but he’s your boy. I love his other books but this is my fave. Brilliant and underrated.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Probably the above. Amazing that it hasn’t been done yet.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Getting to tell new people you meet that you are a writer. That is both the best and worst thing, depending on who you’re telling it to.

The pitch for your next book is …?
“In the 1970s, David Bowie used to store his urine in the fridge to stop people from stealing it and using it for black magic. What if someone got hold of it anyway? What if that person was Jimmy Page?” Hey, you asked. And no, it’s not really a crime novel in the accepted sense.

Who are you reading right now?
Nothing. this is one of those rare inter-book times. The literary world is my oyster! You know what? I can’t even remember the last novel I read. Can’t have been that memorable.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Hmm ... you need sustenance but you need an outlet too... OK, I’ll say read. And I’ll take up painting or something.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?

Strange. Funny. Compelling.

Charlie Williams can be found right about here


Philip said...

Well, I'm chuffed that someone else has read John Franklin Bardin. I was beginning to think it was just Julian Symons, Denis Healey, and me. All three of the novels he wrote in the 1940's (the other two are The Last of Philip Banter and Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly) are fine stuff. It's always puzzled me that he is so little known -- he may very well have been the first crime novelist to write in psychological mode, predating Highsmith by a few years and Rendell by quite a lot. Muchly recommended.

Declan Burke said...

I don't know, Philip ... I read this last year on a very strong recommendation from a friend, and couldn't buy into it. I could see what Bardin was trying to do, and it was a great set-up, and while I know it was supposed to be bonkers, I didn't find it even remotely plausible. I still have Blue-Tail Fly on the shelf, but I don't know if I'll get to it ... Cheers, Dec

Philip said...

You are right, Dec, the goings-on in The Deadly Percheron are a stretch, but I think Bardin expected the reader to suspend disbelief and sometimes there's a major payoff in doing so, I think. However, I thought Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly was the best of those three books, and I'm not in bad company there -- Julian Symons put it on the list of 100 Best Crime and Mystery Books he composed in 1957. Worth a decko. And while I think of it, I wish you, your wife and Lily a very fine Christmas and all good things in the new year.

maxine said...

So Charlie Williams is no relation to Charles Williams (Dead Calm et al)? Forgive a confused person.

maxine said...

PS I have read, and loved, J F Bardin. I have still got my battered old green Penguin edition somewhere (of his three novels) -cannot bear to throw out. Maybe I will re-read one day.

col2910 said...

No he isn't related to Charles Williams, nor his namesake the now departed comedian and footballer Charlie Williams.....but he is related to Laurie Lee though I can't recall the connection

Declan Burke said...

Okay, consider my arm twisted ... I'll give Blue-Tailed Fly a whirl. But if I'm not impressed, I'm coming after you all with a whole swarm of blue-arsed flies ... You have been warned.

Cheers, Dec