Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview: Gerard Brennan (author of WEE ROCKETS)

brennanGerard is a husband, father, writer, ex-kung fu instructor and karaoke hog.

Premature greyness has seriously messed with his goatee in the last few years and most people think he's way older than he really is (he's in his early thirties if you must know). It's a hard-knock life, mate.

He used to be the last guy to leave the party/pub/park bench, now he's a respectable family man with just a wee bit of an alcohol dependency.

His ancestors were highwaymen and (more recently) bank robbers but he doesn't have the stomach to go with his criminal mind...

It's much safer writing crime fiction.

Gerard is the author of the novels WEE ROCKETS and FIREPROOF (reviewed on this blog) and the author of the novella's THE POINT and WEE DANNY (newly released from Blasted Heath). Gerard was kind enough to answer some questions following my review of WEE DANNY:

(Josh) What made you decide to revisit Danny once again?

(Gerard) While working on WEE ROCKETS I enjoyed writing the scenes that featured Wee Danny the most. And if I'm honest, I wasn't altogether happy with how things ended for him. His arc played out the way it had to (he was certainly no angel, after all), but I just felt that there was so much left unsaid about this kid. So I decided to spend more time with him.

The premise of this story is different to WEE ROCKETS where we saw a group mentality with a move towards separation. In comparison, WEE DANNY is heavily character and situational centric - were you tempted to write WEE DANNY in a similar setting/theme to WEE ROCKETS (given how exceptionally good it was) or was this how you envisioned returning to the character?

I'm not sure everybody would describe WEE ROCKETS as exceptionally good, so first of all, thank you for that! But I knew I had to let Danny stand on his own two feet in this one. As you said above, WEE ROCKETS did move from group mentality to separation, and I see Danny as a very strong individual (hardened by what happened to him in WEE ROCKETS) with a lot of unrecognised potential. If I wrote about him craving a place in a new gang, I feel he'd have seemed weaker, and I didn't want that for him.

Danny evolves in WEE DANNY. I don't know if its maturity, his bond with Conan, or simply his portrayal as offender-without-equal which leads to his more mellow side showing. Was this a natural character progression or something you had to work on for Danny?

I worked hard on getting that balance right. He had to be believed as somebody who might care about another offender, but also as somebody who wasn't afraid to stand up and be counted when the time came. And most importantly, I had to make sure Danny wouldn't question his own judgement too much. Most of what he does works because he doesn't like to spend too much time in his own head, but when a character like that is providing the narration... it can be a challenge.

I like the way Danny's adversary is described in a non-threatening manner, yet there's a little something to Adrian which makes him a worthy enemy. The interactions between the two are always heated - how important was it to provide an outlet for Danny to revert to his violent ways (almost an ode to his former life in a youth gang)?

I was conscious that some readers may not have had the benefit of reading WEE ROCKETS before picking up WEE DANNY. To that end, they might not have known just how tough the little guy could be. If Danny didn't have an adversary, a constant source of conflict, too much of his personality would be lost.

WEE ROCKETS is one of my favourite books, do you think you'll write more stories in this setting?

Knowing how much (and what great books) you read, I'm delighted to hear that. And yes, I'd like to release at least two more novellas that revisit characters from WEE ROCKETS. I've only got loose plans so far, but I think we'll hear from Liam Greene next and then Joe Phillips. That won't mean much to anybody who hasn't read WEE ROCKETS, but I hope those who have are happy with those decisions.

Of all the weird and wonderful authors who write crime/noir, who has been most influential on your work?

Roald Dahl and Stephen King made me want to write. Neither are particularly well known for their crime/noir work, but it's definitely part of their canon. But if I'm to pick a writer who is very much seen as a noir exponent, it has to be the mighty Ken Bruen. I don't try to imitate his voice (nobody should, only Bruen can make it work) but I do feel as if his work demonstrated that you can march to your own beat. And if you want to make an impression, you should.

And lastly, what can readers expect from you in the (near/far) future?

Radical crime fiction. And plenty of it.

Wee Rockets  Fireproof  Wee Danny


Follow Gerard on Twitter: @gerardbrennan

Follow me on Twitter: @OzNoir

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