Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Tony Black and Rubber Chickens

I went to the launch of Tony Black's latest book GUTTED this evening through in Edinburgh (us Weegies do occasionally venture through to the east coast).

It was an excellent event – Tony read a couple of excerpts of GUTTED (which is a superb book) and was then interviewed. Tony's first Gus Dury novel – PAYING FOR IT – is about human trafficking, and GUTTED has illegal dog fighting as part of the plot, so Tony was asked what it is about crime fiction that makes it such a good vehicle for exploring social issues. I liked his answer which was, essentially, that it deals with society, and people on the fringes of society; it shows human life at its worst, and at the edges.

Tony also gave a few teasers for future books – in the third Gus Dury (LOSS - out in February 2010) Gus is off the drink. Unfortunately, he's now on amphetamines. The fourth one will be called LONG TIME DEAD and Tony also has plans for a few standalones and would like to alternate between series and standalones in the future.

When asked how he came up with the character of Gus, Tony said that he didn't have a character map in mind, but he did make him look slightly similar to Robert Carlyle because that's who he would want to play him on screen! Despite also being a journalist, Tony says that the only thing he has in common with Gus is that he used to have a pair of Docs just like him. Tony's right - he's much cheerier than Gus - not to mention a lot more sober.

Being a journalist has given Tony discipline. He said you never seen a journalist standing around the newsroom waiting for the muse to strike – you just get on with it.

On the topic of publishing, Tony said that he was once rejected because the publisher “already had a Scottish author.” After that, he was rejected because “We don't want a Scottish author.” When his first book was published his publishers warned him that it would basically be ignored. It actually made quite a bit of a splash and garnered loads of good reviews. So when the second book came out Tony was told that, since the first one was so well received, the second one would be slated...That prophecy hasn't come to pass either.

Tony cited Al Guthrie, Russel McLean and Ray Banks as being authors he admires and who are doing new and exciting things in the genre (and I would definitely agree with all those). ,He is also, like me, a huge fan of Ken Bruen and said “I can die happy knowing that Ken Bruen likes my work”

And in case this brief summary of events has whetted your appetite for more Black, here are a couple of interviews with Tony. Firstly, he talks about shag pile and stuffed koalas in an interview with The Times. Secondly, one from the Press and Journal. And here's a great interview of Tony with the lovely Declan Burke over at Crime Always Pays.

Finally, I learned something new this evening. Raymond Chandler's answer to what to do when you've run out of plot was to bring in a man carrying a gun. Al Guthrie's is to throw in a rubber chicken


  1. Blimmin' eck, lass, you are fast on the draw! Only just got in the door just now - 'twas a grand event, of course, and it goes without saying (or maybe it does need saying) that GUTTED is a bloody brilliant novel.

  2. I did it on the train on the way home :o) It is indeed bloody brilliant. It was good to see you!

  3. Donna
    Superb post and Tony is eveything you say
    No wonder I love the Scots
    Ken Bruen

  4. Smashing post. As to the last point, I like the Velma from Scooby Doo approach. Hero loses glasses. Crawls around on floor, finds them and looks up to see bad guy. I reckon that's got a a fair bit of mileage.

  5. Ken - lovely to see you! Thanks for dropping by x

    Paul - LOL - sheer brilliance. That's what ALWAYS happens to me when I'm crawling on the floor looking for a contact lens.