27 April 2015

The Monday Grilling: Pat Mullan

In Interview Room #4 this week: Pat Mullan (right).

His M.O.: poetry, short stories, best-selling thrillers.

What's under the spotlight: his crime fiction work, in particular his "Ed Burke" series about a burnt-out lawyer who quits the New York rat race and ends up investigating murder and corruption in Ireland.

Chief interrogator: Lucy Dalton.

How do you balance your poetry and thrillers hats?
When I am engrossed in a thriller I must stay focused. But I have poetic thoughts that do invade. I simply scribble those thoughts on paper and put them in my poetry folder.
Between thrillers I often take a respite and return to poetry. Those scribbled thoughts await me.
Who were your key influences when you started writing thrillers?
My favourite read is the thriller. My fellow Irish thriller writer, Jack Higgins, was the first to capture me - quickly followed by Frederick Forsyth, James Patterson, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Michael Connelly, Tom Clancy, Doug Preston, Barry Eisler, and so many more …
Where did the initial idea for the Ed Burke books come from? What was it about him that made you think "Hey, this guy could become a series rather than a one-off"? Or did you start off with a series in mind?
Initially it started out as a short story, "Tribunal", in Dublin Noir (edited by Ken Bruen). The concept leapt off the daily newspapers in Ireland, with tribunals investigating the massive corruption that lay in the belly of the Celtic Tiger.

It was a broad enough canvas to convince me that it could support a novel. And so the Last Days Of The Tiger was born. 
I hadn't intended to write a series but just as the Celtic Tiger corruption permeated the news, the paedophilia in the Church soon dominated, not just in Ireland but everywhere. 
That was a topic that I felt could not be held to self-censorship. And so Creatures Of Habit was born. And who better to star in it than Ed Burke?
What's the most research you've done for a book?
I research every book thoroughly. Much of it is for factual verification. It's most important that I get my facts right. The reader sees none of this. If any of it creeps in, I edit it out. However, I do much research in areas unfamiliar to me if they play a major role in the work.
I am finishing my work-in-progress, A Deadly Gamble, some of which is set in Paraguay. I have never been to Paraguay and my geographic and historical knowledge was filled with holes. So I researched extensively. I have used little in the novel but that 'little' is written with confidence. 
An amazing side piece of knowledge I acquired (which I don't use in the work because it isn't relevant) was the fact that a young Irishwoman, Eliza Lynch, was once the most powerful woman in Paraguay.
Is there a particular book that changed the way you think about thrillers and how to write them?
No. But I'm still learning. Thrillers can cover any sub-genre from medical, conspiracy, political, criminal, science fiction. 
There can be a dichotomy between the very fast paced, edge-of-your-seat thrillers and those that delve deeper into characterization and more compelling themes. I do think that the genre is still evolving.

What's the daftest review you've had, and why?
That's funny. I have had a number - as does every writer. I am a member of International Thrillers and that was one of the subjects presented over dinner in New York at one of our Thrillerfest conferences. 
Hosted by James Rollins, it was a competition by very prominent writers to see who would win the worst review. Here's a couple of my own collector's items: about Creatures Of Habit:
"It seems everyone is writing novels based on the recent disgraces of the Catholic church. Mr. Mullan is no exception. I found this book to be trite and highly commercial with no saving graces. If you hate CAtholics, you'll love this book".
And one (on Amazon UK) about The Circle of Sodom
"Obvious plot line. Dissapointing characters. Story starts slowly and justpetersout.I would not recommend this book, I'm afraid."
What's your next project? Is there going to be a sequel to Creatures of Habit?
I've just finished A Deadly Gamble: corruption, collusion, conspiracy leads to one man's downfall. Fear, hope, despair takes you from New York to Las Vegas in this fast, tense, tale. Revenge drives you to Asuncion, Paraguay. London, Zurich, and the Isle of Man set the stage for the adrenalin-fuelled climax. 
And, no, it is not a sequel.

Related links:

Author's website: Patmullan.com

Crimeire's author profile of Pat