“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “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, September 4, 2017

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Cat Hogan

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?
Probably RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris. It’s the first time we meet Hannibal – one of the best fictional characters ever created. Every other bad guy has to measure up to that murderous anti-hero.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Oh – that’s a good question. I should probably choose a really powerful female character such as the eponymous heroine, Jane Eyre, or even Éowyn from the Lord of the Rings trilogy – but I’m going to stick with Hannibal and his more redeeming attributes of course- the intelligence, the culture, the art and the love of food (non-human).

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Reading should never have any form of guilt attached to it but there’s one or two books I wouldn’t be caught dead reading – FIFTY SHADES springs to mind, but I’m sure EL James is not going to lose any sleep over that as she laughs her way to the bank. That said, I wouldn’t really be shouting from the rooftops the fact that there may be a couple of Enid Blyton books under my bed, specifically the Malory Towers and St Clare’s books. Who doesn’t enjoy a good midnight feast? There’s also a few Jackie, Bunty and Beano annuals knocking around the place at home. I got more excited than I should have really when my son arrived home from school with a Siamsa annual last year.

Most satisfying writing moment?
I was reading a short story I’d written for a cabaret last year. When I came to the end of the tale, the whole room had been moved to tears. I had taken a real punt, moving away from my comfort zone of conjuring up madmen and had gone in a very different direction with the story. It was a validation of sorts for me – as a writer, you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into a certain category.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
I’m not sure if you would label THE BUTCHER BOY by Pat McCabe as crime but it’s one of the most terrifying and disturbing books I’ve ever read. As readers, we’re fascinated with crime and depravity – looking at it from the safety of the pages. If it gets too much, we can put it in the freezer and switch on the TV or pick up a lighter book. It’s an adrenaline rush. THE BUTCHER BOY stayed in my head for a long time after reading it. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. But you can’t talk about Irish crime novels and not mention Liz Nugent’s UNRAVELLING OLIVER and LYING IN WAIT.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN, of course! Before the first novel was complete, I had the cast list written for the movie. Aidan Gillen was cast to play the role of my anti-hero, Scott. It was his voice I heard in my head as I completed THEY ALL FALL DOWN. In THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN, Scott is back and he’s up to no good. Here’s hoping, eh? I’m a step closer that I was – Aidan loved the novel and gave me a cracking cover quote. If you are going to dream, dream big!

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst thing? The crippling self-doubt. The best thing? Getting an email from a reader or them telling you, in person, that they couldn’t put the book down – they stayed up all night and now have a book hangover. I’ve always been a huge bookworm and I’ve sat up all night reading. That’s the biggest compliment you can ever give a writer.

The pitch for your next book is …?
I’m just about to launch THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN and have a number of festivals and events lined up. I’m hoping things will calm down in the next few weeks – I’m itching to get back to writing. I’ve two projects on the go at the moment. One is dark and disturbing. The other? Well, that remains to be seen – the characters will dictate where that one goes.

Who are you reading right now?
I’m actually reading THE DEEP HEART’S CORE, edited by Pat Boran and Eugene O’Connell. It’s an anthology of 100 Irish poets who have chosen to come back to their own favourite poem and offer a commentary on the story behind it. Something very different for me. I had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading recently and Pat performed some of his work. He’s very gifted.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
That’s a horrible question. I’d say if God appeared in my kitchen right now, he’d have more pressing issues on his agenda with me. When I started working with my editor on the first novel, forensically going through the text, it destroyed my capacity to read for pleasure. It was a temporary thing but I didn’t like it. So, to answer that god-awful question, I’d have to say ‘read’. But then again, if you could only write, you’d still have to read it, wouldn’t you?

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Anything can happen!

Cat Hogan’s THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN is published by Poolbeg.