This interview first appeared on CSNI 15th June 2009
Tony Black is the author of the Edinburgh-set Gus Dury novels, GUTTED and PAYING FOR IT, both published by Preface/Random House. Marcel Berlins of The Times, said: “Tony Black is the latest in a seemingly unending stream of good Scottish crime writers … The dialogue fizzes and the whole is suffused with black humour. Celtic Noir is in rude health.”
Q1. What are you writing at the minute?
I'm just at the early mapping out stage for the fourth Gus Dury novel, which is going to be called LONG TIME DEAD. I've just finished the third, LOSS, and I had a really good experience with that one, got some great reactions from editor and agent, so I'm on a bit of a high and raring to go again ...
Q2. Can you give us an idea of Tony Black’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?
Well, there's no two the same ... chaotic's the word. I like to try and get to the laptop in the morning but sometimes I don't quite make it. So long as I get those words down though, it's been a good day. I stick to fairly rigid word counts, 2k minimum, and if I fall behind I double it the next day. I can get a first-draft together pretty quickly if I'm really working it, but the proper graft comes in the rewriting, I take my time over that.
Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read. Study writing. Talk about writing. Quiz writers on writing. I'm shitting you ... I eat lots of take-away and bitch at the telly. Hang out. Y'know ... stuff.
Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?
If I knew the secret to cracking this racket, I'd have done it a lot sooner myself. At the outset it's like sticking your face in a fan ... wouldn't advise anyone to do that.
Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?
Bruen, as ever, SANCTUARY is a ripper and ONCE WERE COPS is too good for words. The man is a genius. G-E-N-I-U-S. Russel D. McLean's THE GOOD SON kicks all kinds of ass. The reliable Ray Banks, soar-away talent that he is - loved GUN, haven't got to the new Inness yet but looking forward to it. And, Guthrie's SLAMMER is one of his best ever... but he'll top it, cos he's like that.
Q6. What are you reading right now?
Would you believe, Leonard Cohen ... it's very dark. Like, you'd expect less, right?
Q7. Plans for the future?
I'm gonna take an extended trip to Oz, month or so, next year to map out a Melbourne-set thriller. Might go no further but I'll have a blast trying and I need some sun. Christ, I do ... much as I love Scotland, we don't see much of the big yellow fella in the sky.
Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?
Hmnnn ... probably loads, but what's the point looking back? I'm chuffed to bits with the editor I have and my publisher so I can't grumble.
Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?
It's not quite the 'wife loses manuscript on train' that Hemingway suffered but I have lost an entire first draft of a book before. I had the second and third drafts but losing the first fucked things up for me at the time ... the novel was never published but I don't think the two incidents are related. I was sore at the time.
Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?
Don't do drugs, kids.
Thank you, Tony Black!