As part of the UK Crime Book Club’s Crime Fest 2021,
Big thanks to Caroline Maston for inviting me!
As part of the UK Crime Book Club’s Crime Fest 2021,
Big thanks to Caroline Maston for inviting me!
‘What was the first thing you remember reading?
Probably comic strips in newspapers. ‘Chipper’ in The Hartlepool Daily Mail, ‘Garth’ and ‘Andy Capp’ in The Daily Mirror, ‘The Broons’ and ‘Oor Wullie’ in The Sunday Post.’
Colman Keane interviewed me over at Col’s Criminal Library.
‘Did the end result mirror your expectations at the start of the process, or is it a very different book to what you imagined?
He also reviewed Man Of The World.
‘Seatown, London, aging, health issues, family, old friends, old enemies, long memories, gangsters, cops, guns, death, booze, pubs, cafes, kebabs, jukeboxes, ciggies, cocaine, a secret Ministry, Thatcher, Bowie, Ripley and Highsmith, AC/DC, Carol Vorderman, Camden Market, Donna Summer, Elton John, Warsaw, and an intended retirement that just won’t stick. A busy book and one I thoroughly enjoyed.’
SusanHampson reviewed Man Of The World at Books From Dust Till Dawn.
‘The violence is lightened with the dry rugged humour that is embedded on every page along with music classics from yesteryear where it makes for an unforgettable melody of cracking entertainment. I always read these books twice to make sure that I don’t miss any the first time around because Paul Brazil has a subtle sense of humour that I sometimes miss. After all, I am still wrapped up in something that tickled me a couple of sentences back.’
And Bristol-Noir also took a gander at Man Of The World.
‘There are rich characters, pithy dialogue, giggles, fights and seediness galore throughout…
But, if you want it, there’s more here…a whole lot of layers to be peeled back and devoured.’
Thanks to all!
‘Paul Brazill’s newest novella, MAN OF THE WORLD, features aging hitman Tommy Bennett, who has left London and returned to his coastal hometown, hoping for a peaceful retirement. It isn’t long before his past catches up with him, sending him running back to London—only to find that mayhem awaits him there as well.
I asked Brazill if it’s really possible for someone who’s made a living as violently as Tommy has, to ever retire.
“Tommy Bennett is an archetype, really,” Brazill said. “He’s like the Western gunslinger trying to hang up his Colt .45: a man who has done bad things and has started to doubt himself.’
Bits and bobs have been going recently, so I’ll give you a brief update, if you’re that way inclined …
I have an interview with Tony Eames up at NFReads …
‘What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
I draw a lot from real-life: actual incidents, people, names. My most recent publication, Gumshoe Blues, is about a private eye called Peter Ord. He’s named after one of my friends from my hometown of Hartlepool, and a lot of the scrapes he’s involved in are based on things that have happened to me or my friends – or friends of friends. Usually the most absurd things, as I’ve no interest in reading about the mundane and can’t imagine that anyone else does either.’
You can read the rest here.
GUMSHOE BLUES has been picking up some more than decent reviews …
Blogger MERMAID IN THESE JEANS said:
‘Gumshoe Blues is a clever, humorous piece of work and in Peter Ord you have an endearing if perpetually hapless central figure who you can’t help finding yourself rooting for.’
Over at Amazon.co.uk, DANNY FARNHAM said:
‘The author never lets the book get too dark, as it is peppered with razor sharp wit and one-liners that had me giggling like a schoolgirl. I’ll definitely read more by this author..’
And Dr J said:
‘I recently had the chance to read Gumshoe Blues by Paul Brazill. It was a lyrical and engaging example of detective fiction.’
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A CONSUMER was a regular feature in the New Musical Express back in the ’70s and‘80s where musicians listed favourite books, films etc. I always enjoyed it, so I thought I’d rip off the idea and revive it for PUNK NOIR MAGAZINE.
I recently did one myself.
‘Born in legendary England, but having sojourned in Poland for some time, Brit-Grit author Paul D. Brazill typically pens what he calls “screwball noir.” His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. His work has also been published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.
1. Please tell us about your work.
My books include Last Year’s Man, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, A Case Of Noir, and Kill Me Quick. I like to think of them as black comedies, though not everyone shares my sense of humour, I’m sure! Someone described me as a Brit Grit P.G. Wodehouse, which is far too flattering but a great compliment.’
‘Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and what moments in your career as a writer have been the most influential and significant ones for you?
Paul D. Brazill: For sure meeting people online who liked similar stuff to me. Writers, publishers, bloggers, and more. And getting stories published in three editions of Maxim Jakubowski’s Best Book Of British Crime alongside Ian Rankin, Lee Child, and the like. And just being published.’
On Saturday 22 September, I took part in the Festiwalu Literatury Wielorzecze in the town of Elbląg here in Poland. Nick Sweeney and I were interviewed by Arco Van Ieperen. Radek Obuchowski translated. Here is a version of that interview that I thought some of you might enjoy.
Why did you choose the genre of Crime Fiction for your novels and short stories?
Well, maybe the genre chose me? I started writing regularly in 2008, after discovering online flash fiction sites – most of which were crime fiction focused. A Twist Of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, Beat to A Pulp. That said, it’s also an area of writing I’ve always enjoyed. Crime fiction covers a multitude of fictional sins and – outside the mainstream – allows for odd character studies – from Jim Thompson to Patricia Highsmith to Damon Runyon and more.
What are the difficulties in getting short stories and novels published nowadays? It is different from, say, twenty years ago in your opinion? Do you think it’s easier to get published in a major language such as English than in a less popular language like Polish?
I’d never even considered writing – well, never finished anything – in the good old bad old days of publishing, but my scattershot attempts at storytelling conveniently coincided with the rebirth of indie publishing – most of which is in English. It looks like it’s even harder to get published by the Big 6 these days. Publishing is a business, after all. And business doesn’t like risk. If you write in Polish, you’re only going to get published in Poland in the beginning. But the success of Scandi Noir shows that it’s possible to do well when translated into English. I’m not sure why Polish writers haven’t cracked that market, to be honest.
Humour is an important element in your novels and short stories – what is the function of humour in your work?
I write about people. People in extreme situations. People at odds with life, their frailty. As Charlie Chaplin said. “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
You mainly write short stories and novellas. A Case of Noir, although it has the same protagonist throughout the book, reads like a series of short stories. Do you prefer shorter forms of fiction to longer novels, or is it only a question of time before you write a longer work?
I started writing via Six Sentences- tell a story in six sentences – and the stories got longer, so a novel is probably on the horizon. A Case Of Noir is indeed a series of short stories that I did for a now defunct Italian publisher but they’re stitched together with a rusty needle and a loose thread.
In an interview with David Nemeth you said that you “have already written more than most people need.” Do you think the crime fiction market is saturated or and does that discourage you from writing more, or do you give in to the constant need to write more?
I was joking- a bit- in that I’m well aware that my stuff has little chance of mainstream success. You’d think that the crime fiction market would already be saturated but reports of its death have clearly been exaggerated. I’ll keep plodding on doing my own thing, whatever.
Your work is readily recognisable as British fiction, regarding vocabulary, slang and subject matter. What makes British fiction different from its American counterpart in your opinion?
Maybe our sense of absurdity. It’s something we relish in many ways. American’s are sometimes chastised for lacking irony but I think it’s just that they can be painfully sincere.
I’ve read that you played the bass in a number of bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Your work is filled with references to music, musicians and lyrics. How important is music for you and what role does it play in your fiction?
It’s probably because I’m too idle to stretch to far outside the parameters of my own experience. But life always has a soundtrack, doesn’t it?
I know it’s a tedious question as I’ve been asked myself hundreds of times but: Why Poland?
Unlike Groucho Marx, I’ll join any club that will have me as a member! After I finished my TEFL course, I applied for lots of jobs in lots of places and a school in Poland were on of the first to answer. It seemed churlish to say no.
Has living abroad affected your writing in any way? Is it easier to write about your home country from a distance?
For sure it’s a view askew. Discombobulation is its own reward.
I truly enjoyed your novel Last Year’s Man, which of course is this year’s book. Could you tell us something about the story and how it came about, without providing too many spoilers, of course?
The big influence was the British comedian Tony Hancock, and also Takeshi Kitano. A sense of resignation to time moving on. An existential shrug of saying – ‘Stone Me, What A Life!’ And the fool’s errand of nostalgia.
Alcohol and drugs play a significant role in your work. Characters are often drunk or hungover, or drinking to stop being hungover. Do you think it reflects the crime scene and/or the ex-pats scene, or is it more of a Marlowian mood setting that you aim for, a wink to the noir from the forties and fifties?
Well, it’s never a great stretch! For sure the shadow of those tropes is cast, but it’s more about writing about people I know and situations I’ve known or know of. And most heavy drinkers are hopelessly deluded. Unholy fools. Which is great for absurdist noir fiction. As I’ve said before, crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order. So ….
‘Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write as and when I can, in an ad hoc and slapdash manner. It’s a pretty good reflection of how I live my life, really.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Damon Runyon because he created his own world. Allan Guthrie because he showed a darkly humorous view of the world that fit mine. Graham Green’s Brighton Rock and Gerald Kersh’s Night and The City. Jim Thompson and Elmore Leonard. Patricia Highsmith. Les Edgerton.’
You can read the rest HERE.
‘David: I enjoyed one of your latest books, “Last Year’s Man” which displays the wit in your writing. So, what makes Brits funnier than Americans? Kidding. A bit of a safer question, what is it that makes the English so damn funny?
Paul: I think the Brits revel in our own ridiculousness, we know that life and people are absurd. After all, there are two types of people in the world and they are both preposterous. The most preposterous are the ones that don’t know they are, of course.’
Rear the rest of the interview over at DO SOME DAMAGE.
I’m over at The Big Thrill taking part in the ITW Roundtable discussion July 23- 29:
“How do you choose your character’s names?”
‘With ThrillerFest firmly in our rearview mirror and our writing bucket full of inspiration, we turn to ITW Members Alan Jacobson, Dani Pettry, Patrick Oster, Jay Brandon, Robert J. Stava, Paul D. Brazill, Kim Alexander, Sarah Simpson, William Boyle, David Orange and Lisa Black as they discuss how they choose their character’s names.’
Over at Unlawful Acts, Indie Crime Mastermind David Nemeth takes a look at Last Year’s Man and says:
‘“Last Year’s Man” is a one-sitting book, so grab a pint or two or maybe some whiskey, sit back and enjoy.’
Over at Amazon.com, Kevin McNamara also reviews Last Year’s Man and says:
‘Mr. Brazill is a master in this genre. A story about an aging hitman set both in London and Seatown. With a broad cast of characters, this book has action, wit and suspense. Highly recommended.’
Jack Strange reviews A Case Of Noir over at Goodreads and says:
‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts – although the parts are so good you’ll savour them individually, as you work your way through them.’
Meanwhile, over at Near To The Knuckle, I say a few words about my forthcoming short story collection, Small Time Crimes.
‘NTTK: Thieves, killers and cannibals – the stories in your latest collection, Small Time Crimes, are brutal and dark. But they are also, at times, comic, and that fun factor really grips. What’s the trick to getting readers to laugh about crime and murder?’
Over at Pulp Pusher, I talk to the Tartan Noir kingpin about Last Year’s Man and gangster films.
‘We haven’t had a Q&A at Pulp Pusher for quite some time. So, I thought we should so something about that.