Several Irish crimewriters have won critical acclaim internationally in recent years. Alan Glynn, though, has gotten the rave reviews and Hollywood success, too.
His first novel, “The Dark Fields” (2002), was turned into 2011 box office hit “Limitless,” which stars Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. The 51-year-old Dubliner described the process as a “10-year odyssey that could have been a disaster but ended up being a lot of fun.”
The Irish Independent commented that “Winterland,” his second novel, “predicted the economic crash with uncanny accuracy.”
His third, “Bloodland” (2012), is an international political thriller set in Dublin, New York, where the novelist lived for several years, and the Congo.
“[It] deals with the far-reaching effects of corporate greed and corruption,” said Glynn, who lives in his native city with his wife and two sons. “A young Irish journalist, Jimmy Gilroy, uncovers a dark conspiracy involving private military contractors, African warlords, politicians and the seemingy unaccountable financiers who rule our increasingly globalized world.”
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What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?
I get up very early and do as much as I can before the day crashlands in on top of me. Ideal conditions are a quiet room, darkness outside, and slow hypnotic music in the background. And coffee. And the vague race-memory of something I think they used to call cigarettes.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write. Don’t put it off or find excuses to delay doing it. Oh, and another thing – stop talking about it. Stop thinking about it. Stop daydreaming. Stop logging on to Facebook and watching DVD boxsets. Write. (This advice doesn’t apply just to aspiring writers, by the way. And it has no expiration date.)
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.
“The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler, “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
What book are you currently reading?
“Master of the Senate,” the third volume of Robert A. Caro’s amazing and utterly compelling biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. It was originally supposed to be three volumes, then four, and now, it appears, five. Volume four is out this year – covering Johnson’s years as veep and his first year as prez – and will be a major publishing event.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald — small, complex and perfectly formed, an eminently readable work of art.
Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.
Not to repeat, but when I started volume 2 of Robert A. Caro’s Johnson biography, “Means of Ascent,” it was for research purposes. I had intended just to dip into the book, but I soon found myself engrossed in the drama that Caro was describing and in his muscular style and astonishing narrative powers.
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Thomas Pynchon. He wouldn’t want to have the conversation, of course, and I wouldn’t blame him, but I’d just love to grill him about how he writes – how he constructs his sentences and paragraphs, how he layers them with such density of meaning and allusion. And how he wrote “Gravity’s Rainbow” without the help of the internet. I’d buy him dinner.
What book changed your life?
“The Third Policeman” by Flann O’Brien. It made me realize that you could be funny and serious at the same time, and that you could also describe the real world and a fantasy world at the same time, and without compromising or diminishing either. Ultimately, it made me understand that good prose is a very real and pure form of magic.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
Walking down Dawson Street, in the direction of Trinity College, on a sunny Tuesday morning.
You’re Irish if . . .
you struggle for 200 years to throw off the shackles of an old-school empire, but barely make a squeak when a cabal of international bankers flies in, wielding cellphones and briefcases, and takes over every aspect of your life . . .