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.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Origins: Reed Farrel Coleman On GUN CHURCH

Once in a while here at Crime Always Pays, I like to hand the reins over to an actual writer who knows what she or he is talking about. ‘Origins’ is a (very) occasional series in which an author talks about the inspiration - character, plot, setting, whatever - for their latest novel, in this case the venerable Reed Farrel Coleman, on GUN CHURCH. To wit:
By Reed Farrel Coleman

“I’m an adjunct professor of English at Hofstra University and I teach writing classes for Mystery Writers of America University—a kind of travelling roadshow MWA offers as a great member benefit. In any case, one of the things I inevitably discuss with students is the elevator pitch or, to put it another way, a very brief description of what your book is about. This is not a description of what happens in the book. It’s not a plot summary. It’s one line that conveys the gist of the novel. Writers, even seasoned and experienced ones, often struggle with this concept. The odd thing about GUN CHURCH is that not only did its entire plot pop into my head when I had the inspiration to write it, but the elevator pitch appeared immediately as well: WONDER BOYS meets FIGHT CLUB, with guns.
  “First, a brief summary, so you can get some idea of where I’m coming from. Kip Weiler is a washed up ’80s literary wunderkind fallen on hard times. Twenty years past his last novel, Kip’s foibles have landed him in the rural mining town of Brixton. He teaches creative writing at the local community college. One day, Kip saves his class from potential violence. For this he gets his second fifteen minutes of fame and, more importantly, the urge to write again. Little does Kip know that the book he is working on may be the blueprint of his own demise. Kip gets deeply involved with two of his students and a cult-like group that is obsessed with the intrinsic nature of handguns. The world gets very weird when art begins to imitate life imitating art.
  “So, back to how this all came about. Six years ago I was at a mystery conference, sitting in the audience as my close friend and fellow author, Jim Born, gave a weapons and self-defence demonstration. During the Q&A part of the demonstration, someone in the audience asked a question about how far shotgun pellets spread and at what rate. Jim said something like, “You’d have to be a real gun expert to answer that one.” And bang! (no pun intended), the plot of GUN CHURCH and the elevator pitch popped into my head. I’ll never know why, exactly. It just did.
  “Unfortunately, it took me six years and about twenty drafts to get it right. Strange thing is, I can usually write a series novel in 4 to 6 months, not years. But I didn’t have the chops to pull off the novel as originally conceived. There are many moving parts, lots of characters, a book within a book, tons of Irish dialect, third and first person narration … Talk about giving yourself a challenge, but it was absolutely worth it. Much like writing TOWER, the stand-alone I did with Ken Bruen, GUN CHURCH proved to be a means through which I became a far better and skilful writer. The chops I didn’t have when I began the project, I developed because of the project.” - Reed Farrel Coleman
  For a free sample of GUN CHURCH at, along with a couple of very nice big-ups from Daniel Woodrell and Don Winslow, clickety-click here


Sara J. Henry said...

Here's a link to a free sample download of GUN CHURCH at Reed's site:

Craig said...

Is GUN CHURCH going to be available in print/ebook format?

Sara J. Henry said...

Craig, in the short term, no. For now it's exclusively an Audible book, but later may be published in print or ebook.