Monday 17 March 2008

An Interview - Sam Millar

Yes, it's St Patrick's day, but crime doesn't take holidays, and neither does CSNI. Unless you count yesterday. Ahem. So here's a very special treat to mark the day that doesn't involve shamrocks or green Guinness or whatever else the eejits in green foam hats enjoy. It's an interview with Sam Millar.

Sam Millar has a huge list of achievements -- Author of three best-selling novels; Dark Souls, The Redemption Factory, The Darkness of Bones. His newest novel, Bloodstorm, has been selected by Eason and The Sunday Times to mark the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Bloodstorm is a powerful, relentless page-turner of a book, leaving you gasping for more…”

BBC Radio Ulster

He’s also the author of the best-selling memoir, On The Brinks, recently acquired by Warner Brothers.

Mr Millar has won the prestigious Aisling Award for Art and Culture, the Martin Healy Short Story Award, the Brian Moore Award for Short Stories and the Cork Literary Review Writer’s Competition. There’s more, but I’ll let him talk about it.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

A: The Dark Place and Searching For The Dead. These are the follow-ups to Bloodstorm. I have a couple of stand-alone projects in the oven, but they are not fully baked yet.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Sam Millar’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

A: Right now it’s 5am. That’s when I usually hit the screen (unlike cops hitting the street). I am blessed with insomnia - a writer’s dream (notice I didn’t write cursed with an ailment!). I’m eating marmalade and toast because my wife says it’s good for me, even though my doctor has firmly advised me never to touch the stuff as I am allergic to oranges, and it could cause a massive heart attack. Hey, always trust your wife, right…? I can’t be too precise as to where my ideas come from, because they usually sneak up on me. But sometimes the most mundane incidents can be the spur to kick-start the next paragraph. They say the greatest ideas are always accidental. Unfortunately, I haven’t had too many accidents, lately…

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Er, you really don’t want to know. Trust me on that…

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn like myself trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

Stop being so modest, Mister Brennan. We’ve all seen your work – and damn good it is too. For those just starting in this dirty, bare-knuckle business my advice is simple (a bit like myself): write. Keep writing. There is no wrong time to write. Have balls as big as the Hulk’s. Believe in yourself and with a good bit of hard grafting, you will make it. Never forget luck. You need plenty of that, as well. Oh, did I mention the Hulk…?

Q5. Which crime writer(s) have impressed you this year?

A: Er…have to skip that one…sorry any crime writer reading this…(bang goes the promised eye-catching blurbs for my next book).

Q6. What are you reading right now?

A: No Country For Old Men. (I think this is the tenth time) and The Road (the twentieth time.) I’ve been a big follower of Cormac McCarthy for years. ‘Discovered’ his work about ten years ago while I was resting in the penitentiary in America. It’s great seeing him getting the recognition he deserves so richly (boy, is he rich). In a strange twist of fate, my French publisher, Fayard, translates the great reclusive man’s work, and as I have a notorious brass neck, I have numerous signed copies from Cormac – I mean Mister McCarthy. I would kill anyone who dared touch them. No seriously. I would.

Q7. Plans for the future?

A: That’s a secret, in case my publisher is reading this…(which he probably is). Very sneaky of you, Steve…

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

A: Wouldn’t we all?

Q9. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

A: You haven’t asked me the million-dollar question, the one everyone else normally asks: what did you do with all the money from the biggest robbery in American history? Well, seeing you didn’t ask, I’m sure as hell not telling. Buy On The Brinks…

Thank you, Sam Millar!


colman said...

"balls as big as the hulks" they have to be green or is that optional?

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the interview, Gerard! Sam Millar has been on my "TBR" list for a long time. This new title might be a good opportunity to check him out.

(Colman, please read Bloodstorm first and give me a heads up if it is Hulk-ball free.)


colman said...

Mick, I'll always try and steer clear of not just the hulk's nadgers, but anyone's be they any colour of the rainbow.
If I get there before you, you'll be warned.

Gerard Brennan said...

Colman - We have dual nationality here in Norn Iron, so they can be green, orange, red, blue, golden... whatever you like really.

Mick - My copy of Bloodstorm arrived today. It looks great, and I can't wait to get stuck in. I'd say it's as good as any place to start based on the rave reviews.

Both of you - Had a bit of a flick through the pages. No Hulk balls.


Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that Tana French's new novel will have a sticker on the cover: "NOW HULK BALL FREE!"

colman said...

Sacre bleu, I thought it an Oirish site.....joking apart is Tana French any relation to Nicci French?
My wife who reads about 2 books a year when she's on a roll, picked up a book by NF and thought it absolute pants.She had to give up halfway through as it was dire.
As far as being a wife and mother, she has no equals, but I'd reserve judgement on her book recommendations, as she scoffs at most of what I stick my head in.
Can anyone give a headsup or French lessons?

Gerard Brennan said...

Oui Oui, mon-sewer.

Tana French is a new (and if my sources are correct -- Declan Burke) very talented writer of the Dublin Crime variety. I've yet to read her debut novel, but I will.

Nicci French, I have read. Namely Red Room, which I quite enjoyed. Now, Nicci French is actually Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, a couple of journalists married to each other and write English Crime together. The duo also wrote Killing Me Softly, which was made famous by Heather Grahame's... performance in the movie version.



Anonymous said...

CRIME TRIVIA TIME: Irish-American writer Erin Hart belted Nicci French with a chair on mnational TV! No lie.

I read The Safe House a few years ago but never picked up another Nicci French again.

Tana French, though, is a rising star. Just finished In The Woods last month. Damn fine shtuff. There's a link to a short video interview with her off my site.


Gerard Brennan said...


Smackdown! Nice.

Can't speak for The Safe House, but Red Room was okay. But with so much excellent work out there, I'll be in no rush to seek out another Nicci French.

You've renewed my conviction to get me In The Woods though.


Anonymous said...

Just to clear up all the controversy concerning the Hulk’s balls. I have it from no greater authority than Stan Lee that they are actually green. The gamma rays having penetrated that most delicate of areas. (Anyone would think I have an unhealthy fixation on the privates of Dr Bruce Banner).

For a further quotes of above mentioned Green Giant and his package, check out my best-selling memoir, On The Brinks, page, 62, or Bloodstorm page 77. (I know that’s a shameless plug, but I am a notorious shameless plugger. No, I don’t mean it in that sense of the word, you filthy-minded gits!).

Sam Millar

Gerard Brennan said...

Hiya Sam!

Thanks a million for stopping by, and thanks for taking the time to clear up the "Hulk balls" discussion. Very well sourced too.

Will email you from home tonight, but just so you know, I received BLOODSTORM the day before yesterday. Brought it to work with me and will crack it open now while I have my coffee. It looks bloody great too. Nice job by Brandon.