Please welcome Adrian McKinty to the blog! He kindly answered a few of my questions about his new book, Rain Dogs, and more!
Will you tell us a bit about Rain Dogs? What can fans of Sean Duffy look forward to?
I’ve never been a fan of series books where the author just hits the reset button at the start of each new book. For me to write a fifth book in this series the characters all had to progress, grow and change enough for it to be interesting enough to write the story. So yes there’s a mystery at the heart of the novel but it’s also great that real changes come into Duffy’s life that hopefully will surprise and excite the readers.
What makes Sean a compelling character? How do you think he’s changed the most since The Cold Cold Ground?
Sean’s in a very dangerous situation. His life is literally on the line every day but he somehow remains chipper and sarcastic and funny which is a trait I noticed in a lot of people growing up in the Belfast of the 1980s. Terrible things would be happening all the time but black humour got people through it. Sean has changed a lot since the first book where he was rash and impetuous. Now he’s still a bit self destructive but he’s become a mentor to younger officers and that has made him grow up.
What kind of research have you done for the series, and in particular, this book?
I go back into the newspaper archives and spend about 3 months researching each book. I also do a lot of “research” on the music I think Sean might be listening to at the time. Sometimes I’ll spend an entire day on this kind of research and not write a thing. These are good days.
You have a background in law and teaching, but have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little more about that progression?
I fell into writing by accident. I was teaching the short story to high school students in Denver and at the end of the unit I always made the kids write their own short stories. The stories were always interesting and the kids got a lot out of the class. And then one year the kids were teasing me about being a hypocrite getting them to write stories but not writing anything of my own, so I did write a story that grew and grew until it became Dead I Well May Be my first novel.
What is your writing process like?
Very haphazard and ill disciplined. I can go months without writing a word but when I’m on a roll I can pull 12 – 14 hour days.
Why crime/suspense? What do you enjoy the most about reading, and writing, in the genre?
Literary fiction is not really for me. It’s very much an upper middle class genre and I’m a working class kid. When I was growing up I fell in love with the novels of Jim Thompson about working class grifters and losers and outsiders who were just trying to get by in a chilly, indifferent, 1950s America with the odds stacked against them. I knew that if I ever became a writer that was the genre and style I wanted to write in.
What are a few of your favorite authors?
First and foremost Jane Austen. I read P&P and Emma pretty much every year and I love those books. Dostoyevsky is next. He wrote five of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century and the first true crime classic. In the twentieth century I’d say, in no particular order: JG Ballard, Dan Woodrell, PG Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Angela Carter, Harvey Pekar, Carson McCullers, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Iris Murdoch, etc.
What do you like to see in a good story? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
Tin eared dialogue annoys me. Especially writers who condescend to working class characters and make them talk as if they are morons. But I also hate hack work. You know what I mean. Lazy writing, poor story construction, ugly sentences. And mannered stuff annoys me too – pretty much anything that comes out of the Iowa Writers Workshop (except Dan Woodrell) has been teased and mannered to death.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Moby Dick. I was forced to read that in school and hated the experience. But I read it again years later and loved it. Forcing kids to read great books at too young an age is a serious mistake on the part of the educational establishment.
What are you currently reading?
The memoirs of Ulysses S Grant.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m mostly catching up on my reading at the moment.
About Rain Dogs:
It’s just the same things over and again for Sean Duffy: riot duty, heartbreak, cases he can solve but never get to court. But what detective gets two locked-room mysteries in one career?
When journalist Lily Bigelow is found dead in the courtyard of Carrickfergus castle, it looks like a suicide. Yet there are just a few things that bother Duffy enough to keep the case file open. Which is how he finds out that she was working on a devastating investigation of corruption and abuse at the highest levels of power in the UK and beyond.
And so Duffy has two impossible problems on his desk: Who killed Lily Bigelow? And what were they trying to hide?