Monday 16 June 2008

An Interview - Carlo Gébler

Carlo Gébler was born to the writers Edna O’Brien and Ernest Gébler in Dublin in 1954, was raised in London and currently lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and five children. He has written a wide range of novel and plays. His most recent work is A Good Day for a Dog, published by Lagan Press.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

I’m working on an illustrated children’s version of The Crocodile by Dostoyevsky. It’s the story of a man swallowed by a crocodile. He survives and becomes a celebrity.

In the non-fiction field, I’ve been interviewing people about suicide and their experience of suicide, these are people who have been affected personally by it, and from their testimonies I am constructing a book.

And finally, I have a play that is very near completion. It’s a work of fiction based on Brian Nelson and Freddy Scappaticci and their life experiences as they ran in parallel.

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

Up at six-thirty to prepare breakfast for the family. I bring tea and toast to my wife in bed. Then it’s out for a swim. After that I come home to write for two to three hours, and hopefully in that time, I’ve produced a good 1000 words. That brings me up to noon and I spend the rest of the day doing all the admin that comes with writing.

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

Garden, walk, slowly become my dad. All the ordinary things. I don’t watch much TV, and I would go to the local cinema more often if it played more of the kind of films I like.

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

Read, read, read!

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

Edward Bunker always impresses me, and I’ve just got my hands on his new one, Stark. I also very much enjoy Georges Simenon, a Belgian author who wrote in French. I’m a big fan of his Maigret novels. And I recently reread The Trial by Kafka, which I very much consider to be a crime novel.

I also consider William Roughead one of my greatest influences. He was an amateur criminologist who went to trials to write up and publish the transcripts. He covered the trial of William Joyce, AKA Lord Haw-Haw and wrote an essay on the Burke and Hare Murders.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Edward Bunker’s Stark and Colum McCann’s This Side of Brightness.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Really, before I start anything else, I’d like to finish up my current projects, and then we’ll see. I have a lot of teaching to do over the summer, but I also want to work on a new idea I’m very fond of. It’s a crime story based on a mid 19th century Irish agricultural murder.

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

I would have been less recklessly promiscuous and not written in as many forms as I have. It would have made it easier for people to classify me as a playwright, novelist or children’s writer but I’ve made these hard by doing all of these. On the other hand, by doing all of these, I’ve never been bored.

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

Yes, I’d like to make a point regarding my writing advice. Reading. Writers should read because it exercises the imagination. The imagination is the organ that produces literature. You can train it by reading, much like you train a muscle through exercise at the gym. Read and you become much more adept at using words and images to create powerful work.

Thank you, Carlo Gébler!


colman said...

Eddie Bunker rocked.......sadly departed now, he was the hard looking bastard in Reservoir Dogs....not the psycho one ...that was Madsen.

Bunker spent about half his life inside until about the mid-70's, when he turned it around.......great body of work, a lot of it autobiographical in origin

Gerard Brennan said...

Hiya, Colman - I have to confess, as I did to Mr Gébler, that I haven't read any of the man's work. Will be sure to remedy that when I can.