Paul D. Brazill is one of the most entertaining and original voices in the independent crime fiction community. I recently spoke with him about Last Year’s Man, his latest book through All Due Respect about ageing hit man Tommy Bennett.
— When I first learned about the online crime fiction scene about ten years ago, you were one of the first writers I started following. How have things changed since then?
Those were great, fun times, weren’t they?
There seemed to be oodles of cool ezines out and about: Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Pusher, A Twist Of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Thrillers, Killers n Chillers, Thuglit, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, Death By Killing and more. What treasure troves! There seemed to be lots of strange voices telling stories with nodules and spikes. I’m sure I would never have started writing without them.
Of course, a lot of the writers that hung around those ezines and blogs have achieved degrees of mainstream success since then – such as Luca Veste, Patti Abbott and Jake Hinkson. Indeed, crime fiction itself is much more in the mainstream now- via television at the very least. And there is so much more ‘internet’ now, too. So the spark of those raggle-taggle days has gone a fair bit. It’s a little sad but things change.
As the philosopher Eddie Van Halen said ‘You’ve got to roll, roll, roll with the punches just to get to what’s real.’
— What are you reading right now?
I’m reading a couple of ARCs from favourite writers to blurb and The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell. It’s the second of the ‘four part’ Dublin Trilogy and is marvellous fun.
– One of the things readers immediately notice about your writing is the style. Has your style changed over the years?
Oh, I’m not great at analysis but I’d hope the yarns are tighter now though I doubt the style has changed that much.
— Aging hit man Tommy Bennett might be my favorite character of yours. He has the breezy nihilism of many of your characters, but at times he’s uncertain of himself and regretful. How did he come to be?
A couple of times in my stories, I’ve nodded toward the dour English comedian Tony Hancock- who I’ve written about here. The influence is even stronger in Last Year’s Man – though I think Tommy is much more likeable than Hancock. In many ways Tommy is like an ageing showbiz performer who just can’t seem to give up- vaudeville or music hall. He’s past it but he still has the spark.
— You’ve lived in Poland now for more than two decades (correct?). How has being an ex-pat affected your work?