Short, Sharp Interview: Declan Burke

PDB: What the hell is The Big O?

DB: “I’m glad you asked me that, Paul. (adjusts tie, clears throat). The Big O is a black comedy caper about a pair of love-struck low-level criminals, Karen and Ray, who decide to take on a kidnap as the fabled ‘one last job’ when commissioned to do so by a disbarred plastic surgeon. Matters are slightly complicated by the fact that the kidnapee is Karen’s best friend, Madge, and that Karen’s ex-, Rossi, the low-life blagger who has modelled his entire ‘career’ on the less salubrious examples from film noir, has just been released from prison, and wants Karen to return his gun, his Ducati and his stash. And that’s about the first 30 pages or so …”

PDB: Is mixing humour with crime fiction a tricky tightrope walk?

DB: “Well, no more so for me than writing any other kind of story – it’s all pretty tricky for me once I start typing. As for blending comedy and crime – I find it very hard to write without involving humour. I’ve tried, but I’ve always run into the sand. That’s probably because my two favourite crime writers are Ray Chandler and Elmore Leonard, both of whom use humour, even if their books aren’t comedies in the traditional sense. I suppose I use a lot of situational humour – the stories are funny (if they’re funny) because the characters take themselves so seriously, and have no idea of how preposterous they really are. I like that kind of book to read, so I wanted to try to write one. Hence The Big O.”

PDB: Why has it taken five years for the eBook to appear?

DB: “When it first appeared in print, in 2007, e-publishing was nowhere as important as it is now – actually, it’s amazing how far the e-industry has come in so short a time. So the ebook version of The Big O wasn’t considered a priority, by any means. And once a publisher takes over, a writer’s hands are pretty much tied as regards to what’s done with the book. The Big O kind of fell into a limbo when it was published in the US in 2008, because its editor moved on to another job, which was a bit frustrating, because it did get decent reviews. So I decided last year to buy back the rights, and publish it as an ebook, to see if I couldn’t give it a second life. We’ll see how it goes.”


PDB: Tell us a bit about Crime Always Pays, the sequel to The Big O?

DB: “I can’t say too much, really, in case I mention any spoilers for anyone who has yet to read The Big O, which is a significant chunk of the almost seven billion people on the planet. Suffice to say that it features most of the same group of characters from The Big O, although in Crime Always Pays they take off on trans-Europe road trip that lands them in the Greek islands. Fun, frolics and double- and treble-crosses ensue.”

PDB: Will we see a third book?

DB: “Certainly. I’m very fond of the characters, and I have a story sketched out for a third in the series – in fact, there’s a very strong chance that I’ll be writing more than three.”

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?

DB: “I’ll be rebooting Crime Always Pays for the ebook market later this year, and then turning my attention to publishing ebooks of three Harry Rigby novels currently gathering dust in my drawer. I’m also planning on having a little sleep sometime around September – maybe just a nap, we’ll see how it pans out.”

The Big O by Declan Burke is available as an ebook at £4.99 / $4.99

Declan Burke blogs at Crime Always Pays


Published by PaulDBrazill

A writerand teacher, from England and living in Poland.

%d bloggers like this: