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, July 15, 2010

Origins: Arlene Hunt

Being the latest in what will probably be yet another short-lived series, in which yours truly reclines on a hammock by the pool with a jeroboam of Elf-Wonking Juice™ and lets a proper writer talk about the origins of his or her characters and stories. This week: Arlene Hunt (right), author of BLOOD MONEY. To wit:
“I grew up on a steady diet of crime fiction. From the rough and tumble streets of Hill Street Blues to the verdant lushness and academic spires of Morse in Oxford, it mattered not the location. Once there was murder and mayhem involved I was a captive audience. I devoured every crime novel I could get my hands on, reading Wambaugh and Chandler alongside Jackie magazine and Just 17. I could think of nothing I enjoyed more than a rainy afternoon sprawled out on the sofa, my nose buried in a PD James or Agatha Christie novel.
  “Stemming from this base it seemed entirely natural that I might one day grow into a crime fiction author. There was just the small matter of how to go about it.
  “Before I developed QuicK Investigations I pondered long and hard over who I wanted as my ‘good guys’. I wanted a team, I wanted them to be as real as possible. I did not want a cerebral genius like Morse or Holmes, nor a tough guy like Pike or Marlowe. I did not want a melancholy alcoholic, or a prim snoopy old lady. What I wanted was someone to whom I could relate. Someone who has to slog hard to get to the truth, someone flawed, someone who would make mistakes, someone with secrets. Someone with trust issues. I wanted a novice, willing to put the work in, willing to try.
  “Someone like me.
  “With this as my blueprint I set to scribbling and within a week I had my rookie detectives, John Quigley and Sarah Kenny. The offices of QuicK Investigations, located in a rundown building on Wexford Street, had opened for business.
  “John Quigley is a heart a thoroughly decent man. He is not the brightest, or the most driven, but at his core he is the sort of person to whom the troubled turn. If John can help you he will. Sarah Kenny was a more complicated creation. She would need to be the counter balance to John’s slightly work shy attitude and his cockiness. She would be the brooder, the one mired in a personal battlefield that required her to be sharper and more serious. Though I did not want her to come across as a harpy, she has to be the one to rein in the impulsive John. She is also the person with the maturity to handle the mundane day to day running of the office, making sure the bills get paid on time and the insurance is up to date. Y’know, all the boring stuff that John has little interest in.
  “They were to be the yin and yang of the QuicK agency. They each bring different skills to the table, as individuals they have weaknesses, as a team they are stronger. John and Sarah have evolved over the course of the books. Older now, more cynical, they are almost as real to me as flesh and blood people. It tickles me greatly when I get emails from readers asking what they are up to now, expressing dismay over happenings or sympathy for them. Sarah Kenny and John Quigley, once a daydream and a slice of wishful thinking, have become a reality.” - Arlene Hunt
  Arlene Hunt’s BLOOD MONEY is published by Hachette Books Ireland.


Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I have seen / heard of Arlene Hunt mentioned in the crime circles. Any fan of Morse is okay in my book. I'll have to check out Arlene's novels. Not bad, Tara French and now AH, more to add to the lists, and both not to hard on the eyes either ;)

Declan Burke said...

Yes indeed, Sean - I believe the word you're looking for is "smokin'".

I believe it's the steady Irish diet of spuds, poitin and crubeens that has all of our lady writers looking so blushingly radiant.

As for the blokes, well, I can only suggest that more crubeens are called for ...

Cheers, Dec

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Was going for the politically correct angle, but your suggestion is far more worthy!

kathy d. said...

Thanks for the quotes from Arlene Hunt.

Am so glad to read about her and her main characters.

Will try to obtain her books from the library.