From all the
books you have written, do you have a
difficult. There are elements that I like about all of them,
and other things that I suppose I'm still unhappy with. I
think there's some nice writing in Dark Hollow, and Every Dead Thing
is still pretty adventurous structurally for a first novel.
Killing Kind is probably the most straightforwardly thrillerish of
the books - my agent likes that one a lot - while White Road is
probably the most complex, in terms of narrative voices and
themes. It's funny, but when I look back on them all I see are
the things that I would do differently now. I'm a very bad -
and very harsh - judge of my own work.
At what point in time did you
realize that writing was "the thing for you"?
I've always written, ever since I was very
young. I just loved doing it. I went into journalism
because it was the only way I thought I could write and get paid to
do it. I've just been very fortunate that my
novels have been published, because I never really thought that that
would happen. I'm very grateful for it, probably more than
What advice would you give to someone interested in
becoming a writer?
Write! Woody Allen once said that 75 per cent of
success is showing up. So many people never even get to the
point of sitting down and putting pen to paper. It's daunting
in the beginning and, to be honest, it doesn't get much easier as
one goes along. I still find writing hard, and there are
still days when it's difficult to get anything done. The
best thing to do is take it in baby steps. Don't think
about a 90,000 page book, think about doing 100 words a day to begin
with, then 200 and so on. Don't go back over anything that
you've written, because you'll get bogged down and
despair. Take it to the finish, then go back. And
don't tell anyone that you're writing, and don't ask anyone close to
you to judge your work. Keep it quiet.
What is the name of your favorite
I have so
many favourite movies that it's hard to pick just one: Harper,
Seven, Big Sleep, Maltese Falcon, Thin Man, Cat and the Canary,
North By Northwest, One False Move. . . See what you've
other authors do you enjoy reading?
James Lee Burke was a big influence on me, as was Ross
Macdonald. I also admire Dennis
Lehane a lot, and my
friends Paul Johnston and Julia Wallis Martin. I think Karin
Slaughter will be a name to watch in future, as will a guy named
Do you normally do a lot of research when writing a
I do huge amounts of
research. I worry about every detail. And no matter how
hard I try, I still get things wrong, and somebody always writes in
to point them out. If nothing else, it's taught me about the
imperfectability of the human condition.
What other types of jobs have you
I was a public
servant, a barman, a gopher in Harrods, a waiter, a shop assistant,
a journalist... The only thing that they have in common is
that I was universally lousy at each of them in some
attend conventions and signings?
I'm about to embark on a two month tour of the United
States to publicize Killing Kind. It's going to be tiring - I
know that from experience - but I still like touring. I like
meeting booksellers and readers, and I'm always flattered when
anyone turns up to listen or to have a book signed. I don't
read. Instead, I tend to just talk for while. I'll
be at Bouchercon in Austin in October, because I've had a good time
at the last two Bouchercons that I attended.
Is there anyone, in particular,
who influenced you?
said, James Lee Burke was a huge influence. His style is
unashamedly literary, and I think he's the best mystery novelist
currently working. Ross Macdonald influenced me in terms of
theme - his fascination with compassion, empathy, the sins of one
generation being visited on the next is
something that I can see
in my own writing.
What led you to write mysteries?
I read mysteries - US ones, mainly - and it just
seemed natural to me when I began writing that I should work in that
area. The themes that interest me - justice, compassion,
empathy, loss - are all ideally suited to being explored through
mystery fiction. I thought also that I might be able to
bring something different to the table, as an outsider writing
about the US. I hope so, at least. America has
plenty of fine mystery novelists of its own. It doesn't need a
pale imitation from an Irishman.
Do you read reviews of your
I think all writers
do, even the ones who say that they don't. The trick is not to be
influenced either way, to ignore the good reviews as well as the bad
ones. I'm not sure I've go to that point yet: I tend to
disbelieve the good ones, and believe the bad
would you like to be remembered?
As someone who bought his round, didn't hurt anyone, and
didn't waste too many trees.
What do you believe is the highlight of your
writing career so far?
Personally, just seeing my books on the shelves, or in
the hands of readers, is something that I still find difficult to
believe has happened. I'm grateful too for the opportunity
it's given me to meet writers whom I admire: Burke in
Do you write on a fixed schedule or do you wait until
thoughts come to you?
was waiting for thoughts to come to me, I'd never have written
anything. It's easier to write your way into a book than to
think your way into it.
How did you get started in
I began writing a
year or so after I was taught to read. A grade school teacher
would pay me money for Tarzan stories that I wrote. After
that, I worked in local journalism, college papers. Oddly, I
only ever wrote non-fiction. My first piece of fiction, aside
from school essays, was Every Dead Thing, my first
you come up with plots?
try not to think about that. I suppose I read things, and
ideas germinate in my mind. When I begin a book, I usually
only have the barest idea of what it's going to be about, and the
direction it will take. It comes together as I write. I
take any classes on how to write?
No. I think you either have it or you
haven't. Classes can improve certain aspects of your writing,
or encourage discipline, but the tiny little one per cent
inspiration that writing requires comes from
you ever get writer's block?
Not yet, thankfully. Writing is hard, though, and
if I go for too long without writing something it takes me a long
time to get the discipline back. Go for long enough, and it
might never come back, I guess.
What are your hobbies and interests?
How do you spend your free time?
I read, cook, go to the gym, to movies. I find,
though, that I spend a lot of my free time thinking about
writing. That's kind of depressing, in one
have a message you would like to give to all the readers out
I'm not as crazy as
I may appear from my books. Odd, but not