Tuesday, 24 May 2011

LA Noire

There's an interesting article over at Culture NI on the art of video gaming, penned by Peter McCaughan. He takes a look at the latest Rockstar Games offering, LA Noire, and contemplates its artistic value. James Ellroy is cited as an influence...

In the last few weeks, I've taken advantage of some writing downtime to get reaquainted with gaming. I'm currently button-mashing my way through Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire's Rockstar Games predecessor, and enjoying the mind-numbing stress relief it brings. The cut scenes are too long and you spend a hell of a lot of time trotting from one place to another on your trusty steed but all in all it's pretty good fun. I'll probably give this LA Noire one a turn when the price drops in a few months time, provided I'm not neck deep in a new project.

And yes, I realise I'm almost 32 years old, but hey, I'm from the Super Mario generation.

Anyway, to bring this back to Northern Irish crime fiction, Culture NI are also hosting an article by Garbhan Downey on Brian McGilloway's latest release, Little Girl Lost. Check that out too.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Badass Reflections

Born in the summer of ’79, Gerard Brennan lives in a small seaside town in the North of Ireland with his beautiful wife Michelle and his incredible daughter Mya. When he is not studying to become a soulless accountant he writes dark fiction and bad poetry. He also writes kung fu movie reviews for www.steelsamurai.co.uk. To keep tabs on his writing success (or lack thereof) visit http://gerardbrennan.livejournal.com.

So reads my biography in the BADASS HORROR anthology published by Dybbuk Press in 2006. My contribution, Pool Sharks, was the first short story I sold for actual money. Fifty dollars, in fact. It was a benchmark that took quite a while to surpass in my fledgling writing career. But I’m not rattling these keys to whinge about money. My kids are fed and clothed thanks to my day job. It’d be ungrateful of me to complain about the lack of readies I receive from my part-time (for now) career as a writer. What I’m more interested in is how much has changed since I sold this story.

My birthday remains the same and I still live in that small seaside town (Dundrum) with my wife and daughter. Michelle and Mya remain beautiful and incredible. In fact they both get more beautiful and incredible every day. I fear for my heart. But in the last few years we’ve introduced two more kids to the family, my sons, Jack and Oscar (both awesome little dudes). We also have a wee fluffy puppy called Charlie.

I gave up studying to become an accountant when my job stopped funding it. To be honest, as the family grew and time became more precious I was looking for an excuse to throw in the calculator. So I’m part-qualified (half-assed) but still working in finance. I haven’t written a poem in some time.

www.steelsamurai.co.uk no longer exists and my reviews are lost in cyberspace. The driving force behind that site, my childhood pal, Gareth Watson, is working on a re-launch of my website, though. He’s not the type of guy to let skills and learning experiences go to waste. The design is looking great so far.

And I’ve drawn a line under my Live Journal account. Nothing personal, I just couldn’t run this blog and that journal at the same time.

So I think I need to write a new short biography in case I write (and hopefully sell) a short story in the next few months. Here goes:

Gerard Brennan lives in Dundrum, Northern Ireland with his wife, Michelle and their kids, Mya, Jack and Oscar. He co-edited Requiems for the Departed, a collection of crime fiction based on Irish myths which won the 2011 Spinetingler Award for best anthology. His novella, The Point, will be published by Pulp Press in late 2011.

I’ve had to cut a few recent achievements of which I’m proud as these things are generally around fifty words long. Looking at the bio originally printed in BADASS HORROR I can’t help but think I had to pad it out back then…

Incidentally, BADASS HORROR is available on Kindle at the very low price of £0.69 until the end of this month (also available on Amazon.com). It’s also how I met Mike Stone, my co-editor on Requiems for the Departed. And it’s got a story by the accomplished actor, Michael Boatman, who I’ll always remember as Carter from Spin City.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Yes, I would say that...

I was very kindly invited to do a guest blog over at Paul D Brazill's excellent blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn't You? Stop by if you want to hear me slabberin' about the lack of time I have to write and what I try to do about it.

It starts like this:

A few weeks ago I was Tweeting or Facebooking or LinkedIning with Paul D Brazill (the dude gets around so it’s hard to keep track) and I happened to mention that I was trying to give my web presence a bit of a boost now that life was returning to some semblance of normality. You see, last July, me and my lovely missus welcomed our third child into the world. Oscar Brennan. A little blessing; healthy, hardy, handsome as hell, but he also had a killer case of insomnia. On top of this, I was lucky enough to secure a promotion at the day job which brought in an extra slice of bacon each month but sucked up a lot more of my time and energy in return. So my blog, Crime Scene NI, went on hiatus, as did my social networking, but much worse than this… I hadn’t the energy to write.

For the rest, click here.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I'm dead cultured, me...

My review of Adrian McKinty's Falling Glass is now up at Culture NI.

You can also read a feature on the very spiffy site in which Adrian chats about his previous novel, Fifty Grand, making the Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year long list.

Four Irish writers on that list this year, which is a fantastic representation on the great work coming out of this island. Huge congrats to Adrian McKinty, Stuart Neville, Alan Glynn and William Ryan. Peruse the list here.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Open Season by C.J. Box -- A Thought or Three

I've just finished reading Open Season by C.J. Box. Corvus are part way through a mass release of Box's titles and I'm a few months behind... but after reading the first in the Joe Pickett series, I wish I'd picked it up sooner.

For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I did not expect to enjoy this book. Maybe the story just seemed quite alien to my own experiences. Plus I've drenched myself in Northern Irish crime fiction for the last few years. Could be I've fashioned myself a pair of literary blinkers, so it's probably a very good thing that I've gone for something completely different this time.

The story follows Pickett, a game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, who is thrown into the ordeal of his life after a man who once terribly embarrassed him in the line of duty, arrives in the middle of the night and dies from gunshot wounds in Joe Pickett's backyard. Pickett fixates on the fact that his visitor, Ote, carried with him an empty cooler. Well, not quite empty. He finds some small droppings that he, a man of nature, can't identify and his imagination is captured. From this point the conspiracy begins to untangle. Pickett must face many challenges, both physical and emotional, in an attempt to do the right thing and protect his family.

The most appealing aspect of this novel, to me, is the depth of Joe Pickett's character. C.J. Box gives us an endearing protagonist with a strong set of morals and a few special skills that sets him apart from Joe Ordinary. However, Box also expertly implants a few flaws that will keep the reader in a constant state of worry. Joe has many "bone-head" moments that seem to bring him as much trouble as any of the sinister outside elements he encounters. It is impossible to dislike this character, though at times you can pity him a little too much. I'm interested in seeing how he develops throughout the rest of the series.

Another element of this novel that kept me turning pages is the otherworldliness of the setting. This was first published in 2001 and as such, mobile phone technology (to take one example) is pretty much absent (which at times heightens the tension). Also, Wyoming is a part of the world that I knew relatively little about before approaching this book. But after living in Joe Pickett's head for almost 300 pages, I feel like I've learned a little something about a society that is highly passionate about guns and seasonal hunting (hence the need for game wardens like Joe Pickett, I guess).

So, if you're looking for something altogether different, maybe Open Season, in the heart of a beautifully portrayed Wyoming, is the book for you this summer.