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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And The Last Shall Be The First, And The First Shall Be The Last

The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the post yesterday, which mentioned various authors vis-à-vis the crime writing gong at the Irish Book Awards later this year, omitted to mention Jane Casey, despite the fact that (a) she has a very strong contender for 2012 in the third Maeve Kerrigan offering, THE LAST GIRL, and (b) she has been shortlisted two years running now.
  As it happens, I met with the London-based Jane Casey in Dublin last week to interview her about THE LAST GIRL, and asked - a little presumptuously, yes, but I’m pretty sure she’ll be shortlisted again - if she was looking forward to coming over for the IBA bunfight again. Quoth Jane:
“It’s the best night out so I’d love to, even if I wasn’t nominated. There are just so many good writers out there in the crime category. I think some of them would be justified in picketing the awards dinner if I was nominated for a third year running.”
  Heh. I love the idea that any group of Irish writers would be so organised as to coordinate anything as complex as a picket.
  Actually, now that I mention it … I’ve been mulling over the notion of putting together a website (i.e., a properly funded operation, as opposed to this half-assed blog) that would coordinate a proactive ‘branding’ of Irish crime writing to the world, much in the same way as (unfortunate analogy alert) Bord Bia coordinates and promotes the efforts of a wide range of diverse food producers.
  As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, I’m rather fond of the Irish crime novel, and believe that there are a number of world-class Irish crime writers. I also believe that one of the reasons that Irish crime writing hasn’t made the international impact that Scandinavian writing has, for example, is because the Irish crime novel is a far less homogenous beast than that of its Nordic counterpart. There’s no Scandinavian equivalent of the comic capers of Colin Bateman, Ruth Dudley Edwards or Eoin Colfer, for example, or the historical novels of Cora Harrison, Conor Brady, Benjamin Black and Kevin McCarthy; or the foreign-set novels written by William Ryan, Laurence O’Bryan and Conor Fitzgerald; the post-modern shenanigans of Ken Bruen; or the genre-blending of John Connolly.
  I could go on, but the point is made: on the face of it, attempting to ‘brand’ even those few writers would be akin to minding mice at crossroads.
  The flip side of that, of course, is that ‘diversity’ and ‘choice’ should be positive things, particularly for readers who are always on the look-out for something new.
  Could it be done? Would it be a commercially viable project? Do writers have any interest in being ‘branded’ or tarred with the same brush? Should it be every man and woman for him and herself? It would need to be funded, of course, but I don’t know if the Arts Council even has a fund for such a project; and whether, in these straitened times, it would find itself in a position to do so, even if the spirit were willing.
  If anyone has any thoughts, the comment box is open …


Colin Bateman said...

I'm up for it - united we stand (in a strictly non-political sense).

Declan Burke said...

Crikey. Ulster says Yes. How can it fail?

Cheers, Dec

Anonymous said...

I think you make a grand point about the homogeneity versus variety of Scandinavian vs. Irish crime writing, and I'm a bit baffled by the whole Nordic zeitgeist, to be honest. The writing isn't bad, it's just not as predictably engaging, interesting and different as one finds from Irish writers.

As for the Irish capacity for disorganization, I'm put in mind of the old saw: If you ever want to roast an Irishman over a spit, you can always find another to crank the handle.

These two notions may be linked, but it's too early in the morning to fathom that one out.

David Corbett said...

Well, I wasn't trying to be anonymous. It really is too early ...

Laurence O'Bryan said...


Great post. Count me in. Whatever that means!

I am running a "using social media to get noticed" course at the Irish Writer's Centre in July, writing a guide to social media for Autumn publication and offering a "social media support service" to Irish publishing companies who want to bang the social media drum far and wide (see for a series of posts on SM).

I firmly believe we can all do more together. The Bord Bia analogy is apt.

Anyway, count me in for chunks of the social media agenda, which will need contributions from all quarters.

Offering connect-ups to tourists to meet Irish writers, doing interviews for online publication, and a raft of other stuff is all possible.

Let me know what I can do to help.

Brad Fleming said...

I'm a rookie - first book due out in the autumn - but count me in if any heavy lifting is needed.

Declan Burke said...

Thanks for dropping by, David. No worries.

Laurence, that's great to hear, and I'll bear it in mind. Might be something to chat about on June 15th?

Cheers, Dec

Declan Burke said...

Great to hear, Brad. Much obliged.

Cheers, Dec

@Ruby_Barnes said...

I'm always up for being branded (but not in the Angels & Demons sense).
Happy to throw a hat in the ring for Kilkenny.



Anonymous said...

Hi Dec

I think this could develop in some quite interesting directions. I'd be glad to help out and get involved.
Brian McG

William Ryan said...

Sound like a good idea, count me in. If it's going to be funded, it'll likely be us to start with. A modest basic subscription perhaps and if some want to give more then they should.

In any event, important that the weight falls evenly, as in not all on you.

Incidentally, maybe we should follow up on another of your points a while back and offer ourselves en masse to Irish and other literary festivals, bookshops and bar mitzvahs.

T.S. O'Rourke said...

I'm willing, cheap, cynical and overboiled in a dark sort of way....


Gerard Brennan said...

I'm here if you'll have me. Just let me know what I can do... or help me figure it out for myself... or something.



Rob Kitchin said...

Yes, happy to weigh in, chip in, provide some content. Whatever. I've no idea if it would be commercially viable and I've no sense of the funding needed. Do you have any comparative websites in mind?

paysan said...

Great idea Dec, why not use fund it to, em fund it?

Kevin McCarthy said...

I think it's a great idea. A kind of central bloghouse/promo thingy. If the members generate the content, you could have a one stop shop with really interesting posts etc. which in turn would draw readers to the 'brand' (hate that word!) Surely, editorial work re posts etc. could be shared out among members.

I'd be happy to stick a shovel in.