Conversations with the Bookless: Gerard Brennan

You can read the full introduction to the series here. In short The Conversations with the Bookless series is designed to raise the profile of and increase the exposure of some of the emerging writers we knew were out there.

In this installment we talk to Gerard Brennan

After the jump check out the full interview.

I keep hearing this meme passed around that no contemporary Irish novelists are writing about current events and modern Irish society? Where does this observation come from? It seems to go well beyond any type of genre/Lit debate and almost into willful blindness.

I think the observation comes from a lack of recognition for the talented writers within our Irish crime fiction set. There may be no great contemporary novels from the Arts Council funded literary types but I’d recommend interested readers take a look at the most recent works from Brian McGilloway, Stuart Neville, Declan Hughes, Gene Kerrigan, Alan Glynn… I could go on. These writers, and more besides, have painted a very real picture of modern Ireland through their explorations of crime on the island. Declan Burke is very passionate about this topic and the last few posts on his excellent Crime Always Pays blog are devoted to this oversight.

Where are you, right now, as you’re writing these answers?

On the couch in my living room tapping away on a knackered laptop that I fear will not be with us much longer.

Who are your influences and what is your unlikeliest influence?

I’m very much influenced by the godfathers of Irish crime fiction, Colin Bateman and Ken Bruen. These guys are talented, prolific and fearless. Stylistically, they are very different writers but they both have that elusive quality in their works that make you want to consume their novels in one sitting then go right back to page one for another read. I think that their unique voices have a lot to do with this.

As to my unlikely influence… I don’t know, is it weird to admit that I’m influenced by Stephen King? I know he’s caught a lot of flak for his more recent offerings (though I’m hearing very positive things about Under the Dome) but I’ve been reading him since I picked up a copy of IT when I was thirteen and I reckon it was him who first put the idiotic notion of becoming a writer into my head.

Why do you write?

I think I have self esteem issues. Seeing my name on a website or in a magazine or anthology gives me such a buzz. I imagine seeing it on the spine of my debut novel will be like heroin without the unfortunate side-effects.

What issues or ideas about fiction have been foremost in your mind of late?

In my own work, I think I’ve been trying to figure out how to ‘up the ante’. My last two manuscripts concentrated on pretty minor crimes and small social circles which, although interesting to me, just don’t seem to tickle most publishers out there. But I wrote what I know in those novels and maybe at my age I don’t know enough to depend on that alone. In my next book I hope to exaggerate my knowledge and see what happens.

When did you start writing and what prompted you to do so?

I really only started writing with serious ambition after my little girl was born, so it’s been a little over five years now. Like I mentioned in an earlier answer, Stephen King’s books originally gave me the notion that I’d like to be a writer but it wasn’t until I read Bateman’s Divorcing Jack that I realised I might actually be able to become one. His Belfast tale opened my eyes to the fact that interesting crime fiction could be set here in Northern Ireland.

What do you most value in the fiction you love?

I’m a sucker for style. Give me a unique voice over twisty-turny plots any time. Of course, if you can do both I’m into that. Adrian McKinty and Stuart Neville are both shining examples of this killer combo.

How would you describe your style?

I like to think I’m dark and wry with a knack for convincing character psychology.

Where can readers check out some of your work?

I’ve been published online at ThugLit, Pulp Pusher and A Twist of Noir, so there are three stories that are just a click away. I’m also set to feature in issue 2 of Crime Factory and a new Maxim Jakubowski anthology titled Sex in the City: Dublin. And there are a few more freebies on my website.

What are you working on now?

A thriller that kicks off with a tiger kidnapping and a fatal mistake by an undercover cop. Tiger kidnapping is a horrible, scummy crime in which a gang of crooks stalk and kidnap a family to force somebody in that family (usually a bank clerk or a retail manager) to steal from their place of work as a ransom payment. It’s a growing problem here in Northern Ireland and so it caught my attention.

I’m also tying up the loose ends of an anthology I co-edited with my friend Mike Stone which is due out in June. It’s titled Requiems for the Departed and is a collection of contemporary crime stories based on Irish mythology. It features some heavy hitters such as Ken Bruen, Adrian McKinty, Stuart Neville, Brian McGilloway, Sam Millar and a whole bunch more.

How do you plan to rectify your booklessness?

Write better books. That’s the only thing that’s in my power to do. Other than that, I’ll put my trust in my agent, Allan Guthrie. He’s given me some excellent advice for really nailing this next book so hopefully that’ll pay dividends.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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6 comments

  1. Out of the current crop of Irish crime writers I’d have to say Gerard’s stories are some of my favorite. The man’s fiction is intense, uncompromising, and always a fun read.

  2. Is there anyone in the UK who doesn’t have Al Guthrie as an agent? How does he do it?

  3. I am very proud of my brother. Writing is his passion. I envy his passion for the art of writing. He never mentions he also dabbled in a bit of dark poetry when he was about 14. A talent I don’t think he has revisited lately. His talents are endless. I can feel a break through coming on. Nothing more than u deserve. Your journey is challenging and your achievements rewarding. Well done!

  4. I’ve read just about everything Gerard’s written, and it can only be a matter of time before there are books on my selves gracing his name.

    Oh, and Requiems for the Departed rocks! 🙂

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