Tuesday, 24 May 2011

PUSH-UPS: Declan Burke

So, what you pushing right now?

Man, I don’t push nothin’, all I’m doin’ is providin’ a service. People wanna, uh, avail of said service, shit, I’m here. They don’t, I’m gone. See what I’m sayin’?

Oh, right - you’re talking about books. Well, right now I’ve got two on the go: one as an editor, DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY, and one as a writer, EIGHTBALL BOOGIE.

What’s the hook?

DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS is a collection of essays, interviews and short stories by Irish crime writers about the phenomenon that is Irish crime writing. Contributors include John Connolly, Tana French, Eoin McNamee, John Banville, Arlene Hunt, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Gene Kerrigan, Stuart Neville, Adrian McKinty, Declan Hughes, Jane Casey, Cora Harrison, Colin Bateman, Alex Barclay, Alan Glynn, and many more.

EIGHTBALL BOOGIE is an ebook. It’s a private eye story set in the northwest of Ireland and if that smacks a little of one Ken Bruen, well, one Ken Bruen declared it ‘the future of Irish crime fiction’. Of course, being the past, present and future of Irish crime fiction, Ken Bruen gets to say whatever he likes.

And why’s that floating your boat?

GREEN STREETS beeps my jeep because there’s a generation of Irish crime writers coming through that deliver quantity, quality and diversity, and I wanted to mark that. Fintan O’Toole, a respected commentator here in Ireland, reckons that the Irish crime novel is the closest thing we have to the novel of social realism, and I think that’s worth marking. Irish crime writers are more popular abroad than they are at home, so hopefully GREEN STREETS will alert Irish readers - who love their crime fiction - to the excellent writers they have on their doorstep.”

When did you turn to crime?

Blame Enid Blyton. I’ve been reading crime stories since before I knew they were crime stories. And as a writer, you’re advised to write what you know, which is bullshit to me - you should write about what you love. I read a lot of non-crime fiction too, but when the stars are aligned - a terrific crime writer, telling a terrific crime story - then I’m in hog heaven.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?

Not fussed, really. I wouldn’t read a lot of cosy mysteries, it has to be said, and the torture porn stories do nothing for me, and the simplistic high-concept stuff you get from the likes of James Patterson are nonsense. Other than that, I’ll read anything. I do have a soft spot for the Old Masters of the American crime novel, though - Chandler, Thompson, WR Burnett, Horace McCoy, James Cain. And I’d love to see David Goodis and Gil Brewer enjoy a renaissance.

And, what’s blown you away lately?

Just read the third in David Peace’s ‘Red Riding’ trilogy, it’s stunning stuff. Conor Fitzgerald’s THE FATAL TOUCH is excellent. Tom Franklin’s CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is a work of art. John Hart’s IRON HOUSE isn’t as good as THE LAST CHILD, but it’s still terrific. Eoin Colfer’s PLUGGED is great fun. Brian McGilloway’s LITTLE GIRL LOST is his best yet. Sara Paretsky’s BODY WORK is superb, as is Henning Mankell’s THE TROUBLED MAN and James Lee Burke’s THE GLASS RAINBOW. Sara Gran’s CITY OF THE DEAD was brilliant, and good fun too.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

I think Conor Fitzgerald’s THE FATAL TOUCH would make for a brilliantly moody piece on corruption in Rome.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?

I’m easy. All I want is good stories, written well, and I don’t give a damn who or where they come from. As for the paper vs digital debate, I don’t see it that way. I’d imagine they’ll eventually settle down and feed off one another, just different delivery systems for stories. If you’re tech-friendly, you’ll go digital. If not, you’ll stick with paper.

Shout us a website worth visiting …

I like Adrian McKinty’s ‘The Psychopathology of Everyday Life’. He’s a brilliant writer, but the blog isn’t just about writing - it’s a real rattlebag, you never know what you’re going to get.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …

I have a tattoo of Wile E. Coyote on my shoulder, he’s just stepped off the cliff in pursuit of that blasted Roadrunner. I love that guy - Wile E., not the bloody bird. At the risk of sounding excessively wanky, he’s the cartoon version of Samuel Beckett - I can’t go on, I’ll go on. That guy just doesn’t quit, and he never stops scheming, no matter how often he gets flattened, falls off a cliff or blown up. If any writer is looking for a patron saint, he or she could do a lot worse than Wile E.


Declan Burke blogs at Crime Always Pays