Sunday, November 15, 2009
ROGUE MALES: SUBJECT #12, KEN BRUEN
(Author’s note: Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life, is a collection of author interviews. It includes Elmore Leonard, Stephen J. Cannell, Pete Dexter, James Ellroy, Daniel Woodrell, Craig Holden and James Crumley. Rogue Males also features an account of a trip to the desert to interview crime fiction greats Ken Bruen and James Sallis about the craft of writing. During the next few weeks, I’m sharing a little bit about each of the 16 writers featured in Rogue Males.)
Ken Bruen: Irish crime novelist…the “Pope of Galway Bay.”
Most of the conversations recorded in Rogue Males are presented in Q&A format. The exception is the closing section of the book entitled The Desert Dialogues. That capstone on Rogue Males — what I regard as the heart and soul of the book — is a longish narrative focused on James Sallis and Ken Bruen…on the craft of writing and the dedication and sacrifices stylists make for their art.
In the introduction to the piece, I noted that much had changed for the two authors since I’d sat with them in the Arizona desert in March 2005. Then, they were both arguably cult writers. Since the interviews were conducted, Sallis drew the most publicity of his career to-date with the release of Drive and an ensuing film option by actor Hugh Jackman. I wrote, “Ken Bruen’s public profile was just beginning to peak” that winter in Arizona.
Well, there are tipping points and there are tipping points.
At this writing, several Ken Bruen projects (and the author himself) are before television and movie cameras including London Boulevard, Blitz and Bruen’s sublime Jack Taylor series. A number of other Bruen-related properties are also under option.
When these projects hit big and small screens next year, Ken Bruen’s public profile will grow exponentially and Galway Bay will likely never be the same.
Ken Bruen interview quote (regarding American Skin): “This book has become the bane of my life. I’m sorry I ever mentioned it. I originally set out to write it as an Irish guy trying to pass himself off as American, which goes against the whole world opinion at the moment, because of all the anti-American feeling and that kind of thing. The crucial thing is that at the very moment when he needs to be Irish, he finally passes for American. All his other attempts, people say, ‘Geez, I love your Irish accent. That brogue and etc.’ At the one crucial moment he needs to be Irish, he passes for American.”
NEXT UP: DANIEL WOODRELL