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, March 2, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Steve Cavanagh

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?
There’s a few that spring to mind; The Black Echo by Michael Connelly, Silence Of The Lambs by Thomas Harris, The Killing Kind by John Connolly and I’d even throw in The Firm by John Grisham. I think The Firm is one hell of a thriller with great themes running all the way through it. It’s very much a class warfare book, and a modern dissection of the American dream.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
One of my favourite fictional characters is Horace Rumpole. He believes in the presumption of innocence, Legal Aid, cheap Claret and teasing judges. I can’t fault that. I think John Mortimer is often overlooked in the crime fiction canon but I’d put the Rumpole of the Bailey series right up there with Holmes – it’s that important. In later books Mortimer even used Rumpole like a moral scalpel for society by examining ASBO’s and knee jerk anti-terrorism legislation. It would mean I’d have to put up with She Who Must Be Obeyed. Maybe I should rethink that one?

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t believe there are guilty pleasures when reading. If I enjoy something and I think it’s good then I don’t feel guilty about it. But I know what you mean. I’d probably say the late David Gemmell, as he is my favourite fantasy writer. He wrote fantasy novels, but wrote them as thrillers. David Gemmell was labelled as writing “heroic fantasy” which puts some readers off as they think it’s all about white knights on horses rescuing damsels in distress. I would say Gemmell was the master of unheroic fantasy – as most of the supposed heroes in his novels are almost as bad as the villains. Character is the key in his books and doesn’t spend the first 50 pages with world building. The first two books of his Celtic quadrilogy are stunning page turners. Gemmell also wrote the best fight scenes I’ve ever read. Read Legend – Gemmell’s hero, Druss, is basically a sixty-year old Jack Reacher with an axe. I can see why some might think this a guilty pleasure – I just see it as pleasure.

Most satisfying writing moment?
There is a scene in the second Eddie Flynn novel, The Plea, where the book shifts up several gears in a single sentence. It’s a moment that nobody sees coming and sets up a really tense action sequence. I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve written.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
I can’t recommend just one. The latest novel from my host, would be high on my recommended reads list, as would Brian McGilloway’s Little Girl Lost, Stuart Neville’s The Twelve, Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series and Gerard Brennan’s Undercover. I read Gerard’s last year and I thought it was the best thing he’s written, I loved it.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I think Stuart Neville’s The Twelve will make a great movie. And I really hope that does get made as it would transfer brilliantly to the screen. If I had my wish list – HBO would take a Charlie Parker book and adapt it over a whole season. That would be awesome.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best thing is when someone reads your book and tells you they enjoyed it. Worst thing? The worry. I constantly worry about everything; the writing, promoting, the whole shebang is like a brilliant, exciting but nerve wracking dream.

The pitch for your next book is …?
It’s my debut novel, The Defence.

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turned out the two weren't that different. It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter, Amy. Eddie only has forty-eight hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial - and win - if he wants to save his daughter. Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible? Lose this case and he loses everything.

Who are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished Lee Child’s Never Go Back, and I’m starting CJ Sansom’s Lamentation. I’m a real sucker for the Matthew Shardlake novels.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Read. I love to read but most of all I enjoy reading to my kids. Yeah, that’s the best. I couldn’t give that up.

The three best words to describe your own writing are…?
Fast. Tense. Funny. The three words I’d use to describe my process of writing are – Shit. Noooo. AARRGHHHH!!!!

Steve Cavanagh’s THE DEFENCE will be launched at No Alibis bookstore on March 12.

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