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Powell’s Q&A: John Connolly

Describe your latest book.
My latest book, The Whisperers, is the ninth in a series of books featuring the private detective Charlie Parker; it concerns a group of disaffected Iraq war veterans who commence a smuggling operation and find that there's something sinister about their cargo. Like a lot of my work, it has a supernatural element to it, which gets up the nose of the more conservative elements in the mystery genre.

What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
Cathy from Wuthering Heights, if only because I've always imagined her looking like Kate Bush, and I've had a crush on Kate Bush since I was a kid. If you're reading this, Kate, the flame is still burning...

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I was, for a time, in charge of all of the parcels being sent from Harrod's department store to the great and the good of England, at a time when some of my fellow countrymen were very interested in blowing up the great and the good of England with parcel bombs. It seemed an odd job to give to an Irish bloke, but thankfully I've never been much of a one for blowing people up, so they were safe with me.

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Ross MacDonald, who was the finest of the four great Californian mystery novelists (Hammett, Chandler, and James M. Cain being the other three). I'd start with The Chill, which remains one of the most intricately plotted mystery novels ever written, with a hell of a kick at the end.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"'In that case, tinkerty-tonk,' I said. And I meant it to sting."

It's P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster offering an insult, and it never fails to make me smile.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
In a sense. I traveled to Missoula, Montana, to interview the great James Lee Burke at his house. I probably wouldn't have become a mystery writer had I not read Burke, Ross MacDonald, and Ed McBain. I managed to get lost while out on a walk with Burke, until his neighbors dogs found me. All very embarrassing, and a bit worrying given that we were walking in the Great Rattlesnake Wilderness at the time.

What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Cinnamon bun and coffee over the newspapers at Simon's Place, Georges Street, Dublin. I love the smell of cinnamon...

On a clear and cold day, do you typically get outside into the sunshine or stay inside where it's warm?
I'm a winter person, so the colder the better. It's why I go to Maine to write between November and February, and not during the summer. Anyway, Portland is more like itself in winter than in summer, when the tourists transform it.

Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Dogs. You can't trust cats; budgies can't fetch; and turtles only inspire sympathy.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Odd Books about Death and Dying

Notes of an Anatomist by F.González-Crussi

The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch

The Hour of Our Death by Philip Ariès

When We Die by Cedric Mims

Stiff by Mary Roach

÷ ÷ ÷

John Connolly is the author of Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind, The White Road, Bad Men, Nocturnes, and The Black Angel. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and lives in Dublin, Ireland. For more information, see his website at www.johnconnolly.co.uk.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. Every Dead Thing Used Mass Market $4.95
  2. Dark Hollow
    Used Mass Market $2.50

  3. The White Road: A Thriller Used Mass Market $5.50
  4. Bad Men: A Thriller Used Mass Market $1.50
  5. Nocturnes
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  6. The Black Angel: A Thriller Used Mass Market $3.95
  7. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human...
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  8. The Chill (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Used Trade Paper $8.95
  9. Wuthering Heights (Puffin Classics)
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  10. The Whisperers (Charlie Parker...
    Used Hardcover $8.95
  11. The Undertaking: Life Studies from... Used Trade Paper $9.50

  12. Hour of Our Death New Trade Paper $24.00



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