Friday 22 May 2009

An Interview - Rob Kitchin

Rob Kitchin: The day job is running a research institute. I spend most of my time either in meetings or writing funding applications, academic papers or books. After a few false starts, The Rule Book, my first novel, was published on May 16th. Hopefully in time it’ll open up a new horizon and I can at least give up the meetings.

My one and only review to date is by Joe Duffy from RTE who stated: "One of the most unusual crime novels to come out of Ireland in recent times. A gripping thriller with characters that ring true coupled with images and acts that would leave even Hannibal Lecter silent! There are more twists than the red cow roundabout, but you will not lose the plot in this clever and unusual crime novel." Perhaps a few more of those and the horizon might start to transform.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

On the novel front I’m writing the third book in McEvoy series. The working title is ‘In the Bog’ and it has Det. Supt. McEvoy trying to solve the murders of two women, killed forty years apart, both discovered within days of each other in Leitrim bog. I’m about halfway through at present. On the academic front, I’m trying to finish off a book on the embedding of software in everyday life, plus a couple of reports.

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

I spent a fair few hours writing every day, whether its dozens of emails or reports, papers or chapters. Any novel writing is reserved for the evening and weekends. I haven’t done anywhere near as much as I would have liked to in recent weeks. Ideas are never a problem, time is! Thankfully I don’t suffer from writer’s block, mainly I think, because I’m conditioned to grind out a couple of thousand words a day doing the day job. I suspect journalists are similarly disciplined which is why so many successfully transfer to novel writing.

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

Read, walk the dogs, and slouch in front of the television killing time that could be spent more productively doing other things.

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

I am a greenhorn trying to break into crime fiction and I’m still fairly clueless at this stage. The only thing I can advise is keep plugging away and hope for the best.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

So far I’ve mostly been reading books by writers who I’ve read previously, filling in back catalogues – Alan Furst, Joe Lansdale, James Lee Burke, Peter Temple, Michael Connelly, Arnaldur Indridason, John Harvey, Graham Hurley, Philip Kerr – mainly because they made an impression with other books. I particularly enjoyed the latest Kerr novel, ‘A Quiet Flame’ – the whole Bernie Gunther series has been excellent. I think the only thing I’ve bought that has been published in 2009 is Gene Kerrigan’s ‘Dark Times in the City’ which is next on my to read pile. The plan is to spend the second half the year discovering new stuff. I’m always after a good recommendation.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

On the novel front I’m a few pages into Tana French’s ‘In the Woods’. On the non-fiction front, I’m halfway through ‘The Algeria Hotel: France, Memory and the Second World War’ by Adam Nossiter that examines how the French have dealt with the Vichy period and the complicity of that government in the holocaust.

Q7. Plans for the future?

To keep plugging away! I’ve the second book in the series complete and a couple of other drafts mostly in good shape. Hopefully they will translate into an alternative career of sorts in time. I’ve no ambitions to give up the day job but it would be nice to have options!

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

I’d have been much more proactive in seeking an agent/publisher for the various drafts I have rather than being discouraged after two or three form rejection letters. The process of getting academic and fiction writing published is completely different and I made the mistake of partially conflating the two.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

A lot of my academic writing is co-written. I’ve written pieces with over 40 people at this stage and occasionally that can get a bit fraught, especially if people don’t do what they said or we can’t agree on an argument. I’ve never come to blows with anyone, but let’s just say there are a couple of them I’d be very reluctant to write with again!

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

No, I don’t think so, other than to thank you for the opportunity to do this.

Thank you, Rob Kitchin!

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