Wednesday 24 September 2008

An Interview - Ken Bruen

Ken Bruen, born in Galway in 1951, is the author of The Guards (2001), the highly acclaimed first Jack Taylor novel. He spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, S.E. Asia and South America. His novel Her Last Call to Louis Mac Niece (1997) is in production for Pilgrim Pictures, his "White Trilogy" has been bought by Channel 4, and The Guards is to be filmed in Ireland by De Facto Films.

Bruen was a finalist for the Edgar, Barry, and Macavity Awards, and the Private Eye Writers of America presented him with the Shamus Award for the Best Novel of 2003 for The Guards, the book that introduced Jack Taylor. He lives in Galway, Ireland.

(All this, and a genuine gentleman to boot. A real class act – Gerard.)

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

The finishing touches to me memoir which comes out in Nov and is unlike any memoir, totally threw out the usual model for those things and did it in a whole new format.

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

I get up at 5.00 every day and write for 2 hours, end of the day, I read what I've written into a tape recorder and if the music isn't there, I bin it.

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

Spend time with me daughter who is 16, feed the swans, answer email, read like a bastard, and be-moan the fact I can't ride me Harley anymore.

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

Read, read, read and check out the mystery blogs on the Internet, everything is there, about agents, publishers, the whole nine.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

Seamas Quinn, Declan Burke, Brian McGilloway, Adrian McKinty ( as always), KT Mc Cafferty, Pat Mullan.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Go With Me by Castle Freeman Jr.........he's like D. Woodrell at his best.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Sequel to Once Were Cops which comes out in Nov, a whole slew of new short stories.

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

Have followed me own instincts more and not listened to editors...................

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

Writing what I thought was the best 100 pages I've done and having them edit the whole lot out of the book, I was gutted and dismayed, still am.

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Gerard, I always like to ask writers if they think they've written their best book?......they all say no as they think it's a trick question and that their best might be behind them. I wrote, what for me, is me best book, titled Garbage and Robert Lowell, I actually really liked it and felt I'd finally hit all the levels I try for and remains..........unpublished

Thank you very much for inviting me to do the interview and the evening I read at Dave's No Alibis was one of the highlights of me career and it was just great to be back in N. Ireland.

Warmest wishes


(Pictured above - left to right - Ken Bruen, James Crumley and John Connolly. In memory of James Crumley 12/10/39 - 17/09/08)

Thank you, Ken Bruen!


adrian mckinty said...


Great I/V with the Pope of Modern Irish Crime Fiction.

Up at 5:00 am though? He's having you on mate.

Didnt know that about the film of Her Last Call, if the movie is a tenth as good as the book its gonna be an all time classic.

Good stuff Mr. B and all hail the swan feeding genius of Lord Ken of Connacht.


Gerard Brennan said...

Adrian - Well, he did all the work, really. I'm chuffed to be hosting it here, though. Couldn't even wait 'til Monday, the usual interview day, to post it.

I'm still playing catch up with the man's work, but Priest just blew me away. Such a bleak and at times heart-breakingly funny writing style. I'll be tucking into The Guards soon.



Anonymous said...

The Bloomsday day just knocked me right out of the ball park
Was I jealous
You betcha
Just stunning
And Gerard, you give great interview and then some

Gerard Brennan said...

Ken - I completely agree with you on The Bloomsday Dead.

Thanks a million for taking the time to do the interview, sir. It's been a real pleasure.


Anonymous said...

Ken Bruen is a genius, especially the Taylor books, I got Sanctuary when it came out, stopped what i was reading and read it over 2 nights, dark and emotional. Will there be more Taylor?
Looking forward to once were cops.
hopefully he will come back to No Alibis, i enjoyed that night.
Allen McKay

adrian mckinty said...

Thank you Mr B. you dont know how much that means to me. Gush, gush.


The Guards is a quare treat, kicks the whole genre into a different league if you want my opinion.

colman said...

Digressing a bit, read any James Crumley anyone?
Probably heresy to say it, but I never seemed to enjoy his books as much as the blurbs and the general kudos he received made me feel I should.
Still it's a shame he's gone

Gerard Brennan said...

Allen - Further motivation to get onto that copy of The Guards. Cheers, man.

Adrian - And more motivation.

Colman - I'm afraid I'm not qualified to comment, but I plan to fix that. Will get back to you some time.


Declan Burke said...

Ken Bruen, a gentleman and a scholar. The James Brown of crime fiction ... Cheers, Dec

Unknown said...

Great interview. I can't wait for the memoir, even though I typically don't read them, I'll make an exception for Mr. Bruen's

Gerard Brennan said...

Hiya, Keith! Cheers for stopping by. Yup, I think I'll have to splash out for that one myself.