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.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Old Big-Ed

If he scoops the Big One on April 29th, Declan Hughes (right) will be forever known in these here parts as Mr Ed. For lo! It has come to pass, and not a moment too soon, that the Venerable Other Declan has been nominated for an Edgar in the Best Novel category, for last year’s Ed Loy tale, THE PRICE OF BLOOD (aka THE DYING BREED). Naturally, being a work-shy slug-a-bed, I haven’t read any of the other novels nominated, but I have read THE PRICE OF BLOOD and it’ll be a fine, fine novel indeed that pips it at the post by a short head (the novel deals in part with the murky world of Irish horse-racing, see).
  Dec was kind enough to ring yours truly yesterday afternoon with the hot-off-the-presses news, to give me the scoop, but unfortunately I was here all day yesterday, and not so concerned with books and stuff. Thankfully, Lilyput is on the mend and coming back to herself again, and thanks to everyone who has been in touch offering their best wishes.
  Elsewhere in the Edgars, Siobhan Dowd’s BOG CHILD has been nominated in the Juvenile section, while Martin McDonagh has been nominated for Best Motion Picture Screenplay, for In Bruges.
  Incidentally, Dec Hughes’ fourth Ed Loy offering, ALL THE DEAD VOICES, will be released in June. Quoth Dec:
Ed Loy is hired by the beautiful Anne Fogarty to find the man who killed her father fifteen years ago: it could be a gangland IRA boss, it could be a property developer with Sinn Fein and government connections, it could be semi-reformed gangster George Halligan. Plunged into a murky world of post-peace process evasions and half-truths where no-one is who he appears to be, Loy eventually finds himself digging his own grave on a deserted farm in the dead of night, his options dwindled to nothing more than the fight for mere survival.
  I’m betting he makes it …

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

There’s been a lot of negativity and pessimism around these here parts lately – I blame John McFetridge, myself – but here’s a piece from Publishers Weekly on U.S. sales from 2008 that kind of puts all the talk of doom and gloom into perspective, the gist of it running thusly:
Despite panic among many publishers and booksellers about the state of the business, figures compiled by Nielsen BookScan show that unit sales fell only 0.2% in 2008, to 756.1 million.
  Now, I know that the business side of the industry is not my forte, and that there are tough times to come over the next few years, but a drop of 0.2% is hardly the End of Times, is it? Oh, and by the way – adult fiction actually grew in 2008, by 0.4%. Three cheers, two stools and a lusty huzzah!
  Meanwhile, those of you thinking about what kind of novel to write next might want to consider the fact that Juvenile sales were the biggest mover, by a long chalk, up 6.2%. Maybe I should start paying more attention to Ms Witch

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Geraldine McMenamin

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 can’t honestly say that I read a lot of crime novels so this is a difficult question for me to answer. I watch a bit of crime on TV but mostly I can tell where the plot is going and it gets a little predictable. The last crime novel I read was a Harlan Coben one, TELL NO ONE, but I thought it had a disappointing and not very plausible ending. I didn’t particularly intend for THE SAME CLOTH to be a crime novel, it just came out that way. I think it’s more of a ‘journey’ novel but not in the travel journey sense. Is that a genre?

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Will in THE SUBTLE KNIFE (Philip Pullman). I love the notion of being able to enter a parallel universe. The idea that one small detail can change your whole destiny absolutely fascinates me and the concept of being able to switch between one reality and another at will is, to me, a true adventure.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t think any reading is guilty but some publications are just a sheer waste of time. Irish Property supplements did take up a lot of my ‘pleasurable’ reading but unfortunately they are now rather thin in terms of content. Occasionally I read ‘Buy and Sell’ which is absolutely fascinating and sometimes hilarious when you get to the small pieces of junk that people try and sell. More of that this year no doubt!

Most satisfying writing moment?
Definitely when I finished THE SAME CLOTH. I had no idea how I was going to tie all the subplots in together and the narrative is quite complex so I was very pleased when it all worked out to a plausible finale.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
I am trying to be diplomatic here so it would have to be THE BIG O.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I’m not trying to be diplomatic here so I will say mine. Most people who have read THE SAME CLOTH say ‘that would make a great movie’ without any prompting and it does rely largely on a visual element. I think the fact that I have worked in property for a number of years and have been able to accurately enmesh houses into people’s lives has somehow struck a chord that would work very well on film.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing about being a writer is isolation. You have to motivate yourself constantly to keep going and this is okay when you get some sort of recognition but very difficult when you don’t. I have found it, so far, to be a very tough business to crack. I know that it can be a different experience for everyone but this has been mine to date. The best thing is the sense of achievement you get when you write something that you truly believe is good and flows well, although, in truth, this is short-lived satisfaction. Looking back on my work, particularly writing that I did some time ago, I always want to adjust/edit/improve it. To me, a piece is never finished, perfection is elusive, flawlessness is indefinable and writing so subjective that ultimately faultlessness is intangible. I am not sure if there is much of a ‘choice’ element when it comes to writing. If you are a writer then you need to write. It’s a creative part of you that will not go away. There is something indescribable that happens to you when that creative element of your personality is expressed. It’s a release, a freeing, an intellectual deliverance that is completely personal, your own and unshareable. That’s the good bit!

The pitch for your next book is …?
It is a mystery again, this time told with two voices, which I think will give me more scope than THE SAME CLOTH, which is told in the first person, present tense. The subject matter concerns a rich property fund manager and his dodgy past. I think it will be topical!

Who are you reading right now?
REDEMPTION FALLS by Joseph O’Connor and THE BIG O. I usually read two books at the same time and then read nothing but newspapers in-between!

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write for sure. I have probably covered this answer in the ‘best thing’ about writing above.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Succinct, gripping, reflective.

THE SAME CLOTH is Geraldine McMenamin’s debut novel.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sah-mokin’; And, Twenty Major

It’s all me-me-me around here these days, so thank Criminy for the Sunday Indo, which yesterday published a piece about the veritable tsunami of sah-mokin’ Irish crime novels heading your way in 2009. By my conservative estimate, there’s at least 15 of same in the pipeline, to wit:
The current generation of Irish crime writers had something of an annus mirabilis in 2008, when John Connolly [right], Tana French, Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and Ruth Dudley Edwards were all nominated for prestigious crime writing prizes in the U.S. and the U.K. Connolly, Dudley Edwards and French all took home awards, with French a multiple-award winner, a decent haul for a relatively small group of writers, and particularly as Irish crime fiction has yet to be taken as seriously at home as it is abroad.
  The bumper crop of crime novels by Irish writers due in 2009 can only cement the burgeoning reputation of Irish crime writing. First among equals will be the annual offering from John Connolly …
  For the rest, clickety-click here.
  Disgracefully, I failed to mention the inimitable Twenty Major (“a crude comic genius,” according to the Sunday Times), whose sophomore effort, ABSINTHE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER, is due next month. Quoth the blurb elves:
It’s just days after the Folkapalooza concert and having saved the world, Twenty Major is looking forward to some R&R but little does he know that his murky past is about to catch up with him … Notorious Dublin gangster Tony Furriskey is calling in his marker. Some time ago he helped Twenty and Jimmy the Bollix out of a hole and the time has come for them to repay the favour…or end up swimming with the Dublin Bay prawns. Tony’s youngest daughter, is about to marry a man he thoroughly disproves of and it’s down to Twenty and Jimmy to make sure the wedding doesn’t happen. They must follow the young man and his pals to Barcelona where the stag weekend is taking place, infiltrate the stag party and make sure, one way or another, that the wedding doesn’t happen. But will Twenty’s Barcelona past catch up with him? Which one of the group finds true love at last? And can they put down the cheap mojitos long enough stop the wedding? In the city of Gaudi and Picasso, Twenty, Jimmy, Stinking Pete and Dirty Dave are more gaudy and pickarse-o as they try and enjoy the Mediterranean sun while getting the job done.
  The editors of Crime Always Pays would have it be known that they make no claims as to the good taste, or otherwise, contained therein …

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Crime Always Pays? Oooh, The Irony

Had some bad news on Friday, folks – a rather fine publishing emporium in the USA was taking a long and serious look at the prospect of bringing THE BIG O’s sequel, aka CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, to a shelf near you, but they eventually decided nay, nay and thrice nay. It’s a shame because the people involved are good people, and smart too, and it would have been good to work with them. But, and for the kind of reasons you never stop to think of when you start out writing a book, it would appear that Operation Grand Vizier has, temporarily at least, run into the sand. Boo, etc.
  But lo! I’m not taking this lying down. I wallowed all weekend, and that’s as self-indulgent as it’ll get. In five years time, and as a direct consequence of the last six months, I’ll be a better writer and a wiser human being. Every writer has his or her war stories about rejections and setbacks, and at the end of the day, guv, what’s life but stories for the grandkids?
  Besides, it’s only a book. As I said earlier today, I could be sitting in Gaza City right now, or southern Israel, with a baby in a cot and half-expecting a rocket through the window.
  If the worst thing that happens me in 2009 is a book rejection, it’ll have been a tolerable year. Meanwhile, anyone who needs a laugh should check out the classic Brian-Stewie walkie-talkie riff. Roll it there, Collette, over …
UPDATE: My brother-in-law arrived last night, with the Tom and Jerry-style photograph below (no photo-shopping involved, honest), which was taken by his lovely wife, my equally lovely sister, and which just about captured the mood perfectly. I calls it ‘No Guts, No Glory’. Peace, out.