Saturday, June 27, 2009

TOWER interview #1: Ken Bruen

The Tower Interviews
by Craig McDonald

In September 2009, Busted Flush Press will publish Tower (978-1-935415-07-7; trade paperback original; $15), a collaboration between award-wining crime novelists Ken Bruen (London Boulevard; Once Were Cops; The Guards) and Reed Farrel Coleman (Walking the Perfect Square; The James Deans; Soul Patch). Tower was edited by Edgar Award-nominated crime writer, editor and literary agent, Allan Guthrie (Kiss Her Goodbye; Two-Way Split; Slammer). In the following interview, the trio discusses the process of writing and editing a novel Edgar Award-winner Megan Abbott (Bury Me Deep) declares “baleful” and “swaggering.”

Edgar Award-nominated crime writer Craig McDonald (Head Games; Toros and Torsos) interviewed Bruen, Coleman, and Guthrie. Craig ("a genuine expert on the history of crime fiction" — Eddie Muller, San Francisco Chronicle) is an accomplished interviewer, and two collections of his interviews with major crime writers have been published: Art in the Blood (PointBlank Press) & Rogue Males (Bleak House Books; May 2009). Here is the first interview, with the "Pope of Galway" himself, Ken Bruen!


Craig McDonald: Tower began with you…
Ken Bruen: Yes, and halfway through, I thought it would really work as a two-hander.

CM: This is your second time collaborating with another author. You have such a distinctive voice. What entices you about blending your prose with another writer’s work?
KB: I think because I was always told it can’t be done and that always gets me thinking… Oh yeah?

CM: When/how did Busted Flush enter the picture?
KB: Well, first we love David and the publishing company and he seemed to get the book better than anybody.

CM: Was your portion of the Nick narration written and then the rest of the plot thrashed out between you and Reed, or did you leave him a clear course for his sections of the novel?
KB: I did my piece and then let Reed run with it. I have to say, he did the real Trojan work and made the book sing.

CM: Did you go over or add anything to Reed’s portions of the novel?
KB: Not one single word. His work was so good that I had truly nothing but admiration.

CM: Did he change anything of yours in the Nick narration?
KB: No. We deliberately kept it the two distinct points of view.

CM: Yes, there is a “Rashomon” quality to the novel in the sense we get certain key events from the particular perspectives of the two narrators. Was this your idea, Reed’s, or something you came to in tandem?
KB: It evolved as Reed began to write his part. It wasn’t a definite plan but took shape as Reed’s narration deepened.

CM: Nick is named for Hemingway’s Nick Adams. Hem’s Nick’s relationship with his father is a running theme through Hemingway stories. Your Nick has father issues; your Nick also flirts with playing father to a Down Syndrome child. How important do think father/son tension is to the mind or development of a writer?
KB: Vital. At least in my case. And it seems to add that tension that is always underlying that dynamic.

CM: You’ve remarked you look for music that fits a character in the process of writing your books. What kind of tunes does Nick favor?
KB: No two ways about it, he’s a real Tom Russell kind of guy.

CM: How did Al Guthrie come to serve as editor for this project?
KB: David asked him and Al, being the soul of generosity he is, readily agreed and phew, sure did one superb job.

CM: Did Al’s handling of that task require anything significant from your end in terms of changes or additions?
KB: Very little, apart from one or two brilliant changes that made a huge difference.

CM: Any other collaborations coming down the pike?
KB: No, I’m back to flying solo. Means double the work, dammit.

CM: The Celtic Tiger — has it officially ceased its roaring? How are things in Ireland as the world economy continues to go to pieces?
KB: Today’s paper has a photo of 500 people lining up for food parcels. I cannot tell you how that just destroys me.

CM: What’s next for you? There are rumors of a rather different kind of Jack Taylor novel, and of a memoir dated for release this year…
KB: The new Jack Taylor is finished and titled… The Devil. And it deals with, yup, the supernatural. Scared the hell outta me. Not going down that road again.

CM: London Boulevard and Blitz are going before cameras. You’ve done some acting. Can we look forward to Bruen cameos?
KB: Alas, yes, as I’m just about the worst actor in the world. I have three lines in London Boulevard.

CM: What’s the status of the Jack Taylor adaptation?
KB: It begins filming in September as four TV movies and the actor playing Jack is… Guess? Not me, thank Christ.

CM: I saw something the other day that indicated you might be writing a children’s book. Can you share a little more about that?
KB: It’s titled Peter and His Magic Pencil. It’s about a little boy who can make his mum, friends, etc., happy by writing it down in his notebook. Alas, he also discovers that he may have to erase some of the joy as in the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” It was a joy to write and Eoin Colfer has nothing to worry about. It was a one off, for [my daughter] Grace.
Look for the 2nd & 3rd interviews to run soon. Tower will be published in September 2009. Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman will both appear at Bouchercon in Indianapolis! Booksellers / librarians: Order Tower through Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor!


jedidiah ayres said...

Looking forward to that memoir...

Grant McKenzie said...

Amazing. I'm always inspired by the mighty Bruen. He just seems to make everything he does look (and read) so smooth and effortless, while the rest of us scramble around like mad chickens scratching in the dirt for fallen grains of sanity — or is that just me ;-)

snazal said...

A Good read.