Friday, 28 March 2014

Ten facts about … Declan Burke



When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
“That’s a hard question to answer, actually. I have no memory of any lightbulb moment – “Hey, I want to be a writer!” But I’d imagine it was relatively early on, when I was eight or nine years old, when the names on the books became as important as the titles – when, for example, I’d go into the library hoping to find an Enid Blyton I hadn’t read before.

Gradually, the idea settled in on me that it would be a wonderful thing – the most wonderful possible thing, the way astronauts believe that to be an astronaut is the best possible thing to be – if I was to grow up to be someone who had my own name on books. To be someone who had the kind of mesmerising effect on other people that writers had on me. That was probably the start of it.”  

How long does it take you to write a book?
“How long is a piece of string? It depends to a large extent on the kind of book I’m writing, whether it’s a standalone where you’re creating a whole new world for yourself, with brand new characters, or if I’m writing a book in a series, where I’m already familiar with the characters and the voice and the parameters of that particular world.

As a rough guide, I’d say it usually takes between six to nine months to write the first draft, which is always the stickiest bit for me – I’m not a natural writer, very much a three-words-forward, two-words-back writer. But once I have the first draft down, I’m like a kid in a sweet shop – I could easily spend another six to nine months fiddling around with that draft in any number of subsequent drafts.”

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
“I work full-time as a freelance journalist, which can be time-consuming, but which also allows for a certain amount of flexibility in any given day. When I’m working on a book, I give myself a word count for the week – 5,000 words – and then try to eke out a couple of hours every day to get there.

Sometimes it means getting up at 5am, sometimes it means writing from 5pm in the evening. The weekends are always great; I’ll put in three- to four-hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. When I’m writing, I try to write seven days a week. Mainly for fear of coming back to the ‘bubble’ and finding it collapsed if it I leave it to its own devices for more than a day at a time.”


How many crime novels have you written?
“I published my first, Eightball Boogie, in 2003. Crime Always Pays, which will be published by Severn House in March, will be my fifth novel.”

Which is your favourite and why?
“That’s like asking me to decide which of my children is my favourite (happily, I only have one child). I suppose they’re all favourites in their own way – all flawed, but all loveable (to me).

I tend to write a different kind of book each time – I’ve written a couple of private eye novels, featuring Harry Rigby; a couple of crime comedy capers (Crime Always Pays is my second caper novel); and Absolute Zero Cool, which is a story about a crime writer trying to write a caper comedy only to find himself confronted by one of his own fictional creations, a psychotic hospital porter who languishes in the ‘limbo’ of first draft, and who tries to persuade the author to write a book about blowing up a hospital, so that he can be published and come alive.

If I absolutely had to pick a favourite I’d have to say Eightball Boogie, simply because it was my first book to be published, and that was a very special moment in my life.” 

Where do you get your ideas?
“That’s another piece-of-string question for me, I’m afraid (and ‘idea’ might be more appropriate …). I suppose, like most people, a lot of ‘my’ ideas are generated by what I read and see in newspapers and books and on TV, or in movies – not that you see or read something and decide to rip it off, or (koff) pay homage, but you might come across something that piques your interest, and you think it might work as a story idea in a certain context, or if it happened to particular people you might have in mind as characters. At least, that’s how a story might start off – but usually, by the time I’ve finished a book, the original inspiration or idea has been long since been overwritten to the point of invisibility.”

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
“Harry Rigby, probably. Harry’s a guy who – at least when I’m writing him – he’s more me than I am. I wouldn’t want to be him, because he’s had a tough time of it, but I’m glad he’s out there, saying and thinking the things he does. He’s probably me at my best and worst, which allows me to quite happily and (for the most part) calmly occupy the middle ground between the extremes.”  

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
“Well, how much time do you have? … Peter Pan, for one. A fabulous creation, for children and adults alike. Philip Marlowe is another – when I first read the opening paragraph to The Big Sleep, his voice caught my ear like no other character had managed before (or has since). Another is John Grady Cole from All the Pretty Horses. Lizzy Bennett – a brilliant character. Chili Palmer from Get Shorty … I could go on all day.”  

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
“That’s a hell of a question … I suppose I should say someone like Robin Hood, right? But I don’t know if I’d have been okay with all that sleeping rough in a forest … In theory, though, I’d probably lean towards being some kind of outlaw like Billy the Kid or Bonnie and Clyde, although I’m sure the reality of it all was pretty grim, even before you had to start shooting at people. But as a general notion, and if I had to embark on a criminal enterprise, it would probably involve stealing from the stupidly rich with the bare minimum of violence.”

What are you working on now?
“Right this moment, the less I say about it the better. I’ve had a terrible habit in the past of talking stories out of my system, and then realising the tank is dry when I go to write them down. I can tell you that right now it’s a spy story (of sorts) set in Ireland with its roots in an (alleged) atrocity in 1940, all of which is subject to change. Will that do?”

Bio 
Declan Burke is the author of five crime novels: Eightball Boogie (2003), The Big O (2007), Absolute Zero Cool (2011), Slaughter’s Hound (2012) and Crime Always Pays (2014). He is also the editor of Down Those Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century (2011) and co-editor, with John Connolly, of Books to Die For (2013).

He blogs on Irish crime writing at Crime Always Pays: http://crimealwayspays.blogspot.ie/
Twitter: @declanburke



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Ten facts about … Charles Prandy

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer in some way or another. But it wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I decided to sit down and write my first novel. Technology has made being a novelist more obtainable.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Anywhere from five to six months. I’m not yet a full-time writer, so I usually can only write at night when everyone’s asleep. Hopefully when I become a full-time writer I’ll move it up to four months.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
During the week I’m usually sitting at the kitchen table writing for a couple of hours at night when everyone’s asleep. On the weekends I like to go to Starbucks and write for a few hours. Something about the coffee smell in Starbucks gets my creative juices flowing.

How many crime novels have you written?
I’ve written two which are a part of the Detective Jacob Hayden series. Jacob is a homicide detective working for the D.C. police department.

Which is your favourite and why?
Kind of hard to say. I like them both. But I guess I like the second book, Behind the Closed Door, a little better. As a writer you should become a better storyteller with each book, and I believe it reflects in, Behind the Closed Door. I don’t really read reviews, but I see comments that people make and they seem to really love it.

Where do you get your ideas?
They can come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes I see someone doing something while walking along the sidewalk and I’ll ask myself, I wonder if? Or I’ll be driving in my car with the radio off and just let my thoughts run wild until they land on something that I think could be interesting. One of the great things about having a smart phone is that I can use the voice recorded app whenever an idea pops in my head. It could be something like, think about why the sky is blue. And at some later point I’ll play back the recordings and see if anything sounds interesting.

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
It’d have to be Jacob. He’s a likeable guy. I didn’t want him to be a bigger than life detective that’s often portrayed in the movies. I try to make him as real and believable as possible. He’s not going to win every fight or figure out the crime on his first try. But he believes in justice and will continue investigating until the crime is solved.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
I actually like the Donovan Creed character from John Locke’s novels. I like how John Locke made Donovan Creed humorous and witty, but also tough and nimble for a guy of his size.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Probably Albert Einstein because hopefully he would have been smart enough not to get caught at whatever crime he committed.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the third book in the series entitled, The Game of Life or Death. In this book Jacob has to solve the murders of a family that he’s known since he was a kid. Through his investigation he’ll learn that the father of the family was not the man he’d known nearly his whole life. And, Jacob will finally come face to face with the man who’s been sending him threatening letters, a man known only as, The Game.

Bio
Charles graduated from the University of Maryland University College with a degree in Legal Studies. He attended Wesley Theological Seminary for two years, and it was there that he got the idea to write his first novel, The Last of the Descendants, which was published in May of 2008. Charles enjoys writing crime thrillers and does extensive research on his topics.

List of Books:
The Last of the Descendants
The Avenged
Behind the Closed Door
The Game of Life or Death (April 2014)








Sunday, 23 March 2014

Blast from the past

I was doing some online research for the next in the D.I. Paolo Storey series (Looking for a Reason) when I stumbled across a book club review page of Bad Moon Rising. I hadn't even realised these reviews existed, so it was great to see what three readers felt about the first in the series. In the main, the comments are positive. There are one or two negative comments, but overall the book received a thumbs up, but why not see for yourself? Crime Scene Reader


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Ten facts about ... Ed Jakubik



When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

When I was 17 years old, my English teacher from St. Peter’s Prep pulled me aside after class and blasted me. He told me that essays and papers he witnessed me writing in bus stops on the way to school were as good as other students who dedicated weeks of time toward the same projects. He told me to stop wasting my talent. I listened.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The Doll Collector took me roughly 6 years to finish. A true labor of love.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I dedicate time every day to write, whether it’s for ten minutes of a few hours. Most of my work gets done late evenings when everyone in my home is asleep.

How many crime novels have you written?

The Doll Collector is my first novel. I plan on writing a series of novels around Special Detective Beck McManus.

Which is your favourite and why?

My first, I guess.

Where do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from personal experiences growing up in a crazy New Jersey town (Bayonne), other great works from my favorite authors and real life everyday stories. As mad as it sounds, I have the outlines of the next 5 novels I will write swirling around in my tormented mind.

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?

My favorite character is my antagonist, Morton Eldiman. He embodies the concept of social conditioning and how monsters are truly created—through systematic physical and mental torture. I put a ton of thought into him.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?

I truly wish I invented Hannibal Lecter of the famed Thomas Harris novels. Lecter is such a complex, well thought out villain. His paralyzing demeanor always rattled me.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?

Wow, great question. Don’t judge me but I have to say I would love to see life through the eyes of Jack the Ripper. Not necessarily the point of view of gruesome murders per say, but to witness England during such a pivotal time in history.  A hundred and twenty years later, the most infamous serial killer in history is still relevant.

What are you working on now?

I am currently writing a follow up novel entitled Wolf Moon. It expands across the pond and pulls in some great new characters. It’s a bit more complex than the first novel but doesn’t lose pace.

Bio
Ed grew up in Bayonne, NJ— a neighborhood that was more impressed with how far you could hit a stickball rather than how creative you could be. Luckily, he was cognizant of the ‘signs’ his higher power set forth and he began his journey.  Ed has enjoyed a successful sales career for over a decade which helped mold a tenacious, never back down attitude towards his true passion— writing. 

Ed and his wife, Maria, have two children; Jack and Lily.  They reside in Spring Lake, NJ. Ed is a graduate of Castelton State College where, in 1995, he received his Bachelor of Science degree. Ed is also a proud graduate of St. Peter’s Prep of Jersey City, NJ.