Monday 12 October 2009

An Interview - Liam McIlvanney

Liam McIlvanney was born and raised in Ayrshire, Scotland. He now lives in New Zealand. His first novel, All the Colours of the Town, was published in August 2009 by Faber.

‘An authentic, atmospheric and ambitious debut. Liam McIlvanney nails it.’
- Val McDermid

‘Liam McIlvanney holds all the aces of a really vital young novelist … a brilliant study in the harsh, pawky affinity between those two majestic cities, Glasgow and Belfast.’
- Richard T Kelly, author of Crusaders

‘I read it almost at a sitting… smart, generous and compelling’ - Gordon Burn

‘With a bravura nod at classic north of Carlisle crime writing, All The Colours of the Town swaggers onto the Larne-Stranraer ferry and brings noir home. Razor-sharp prose and laser-sharp observation makes this a brilliant fiction debut.’ - Eoin McNamee

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

Right now I’m trying to get started on the second novel. I’m still at the note-taking stage, but will be knuckling down to a proper writing schedule in a few weeks’ time. The book is a sequel to All the Colours in the Town, and features the same central character, Gerry Conway. I did plan to set the second novel in New Zealand (where I now live), but I recently had an idea that will keep Gerry in Glasgow for the time being. Maybe I’ll take him to NZ in a later book.

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

With three young sons and a full-time job, I write whenever I get the chance. Typically, I write early in the morning and sometimes last thing at night. I set a realistic target of 500 words a day and try to stick to it. I don’t really have time for writer’s block so I try to get stuck in straight away.

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

Erm, see above. I also play the odd game of five-a-side footie and do a bit of ‘tramping’, as they call hiking in this part of the world.

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

Read a lot and write a lot. The two go together.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

I’ve been very impressed by Stuart Neville’s The Twelve. Great premise; brilliant execution: a top crime novel.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading Ian Rankin’s The Complaints, featuring Malcolm Fox, who looks like being a worthy successor to DI Rebus. I’m also re-reading The Big Sleep for the umpteenth time.

Q7. Plans for the future?

I’m planning to write at least three novels with Gerry Conway as the hero and narrator. After that, I’m not sure.

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

Nope. I’d do things quicker, if I could, but that’s another story.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

I have my worst writing experience (as I imagine most writers do) every time I sit down in front of a blank screen. Then, if you’re lucky, the words trickle through and things start to look up.

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

I’d like to say thanks for having me on your website. I’m a big fan of writers like Eoin McNamee and Brian McGilloway, so I’m chuffed to be getting a mention on Crimescene NI.

Thank you, Liam McIlvanney!


Allen McKay said...

This was another book launch that i missed, but i popped into No Alibis last week and picked up a signed copy. Looking forward to it.
Now i need to get a signed copy of The Gates...

adrian mckinty said...

Notice how these Faber guys stick together?

Thats who you need to get published by Ger.

Gerard Brennan said...

Allen - It's one of the launches I missed, but I heard there was a very good turnout. I heard him reading and interviewed on ArtsExtra that day and I hope to make his next launch. Also, I found time to read ATCOTT. It rocks.

Adrian - I did notice that. So far, I've only managed to get two good rejections off Faber, though. Good in the "at least they weren't form rejections" way. Third time lucky? If I can finish the feckin' thing, maybe.