Veteran iUniverse author Gerry Burke talks about his novels, characters, and thoughts on writing.
I have just had business cards printed. I always visualize the cover of my new book on 80% of the available space. The book is called Be Dead and Be Damned, and it is a little confronting for people who receive my card after meeting me for the first time. After all, I appear to be such a happy fellow.
Certainly, the cover illustration is also rather confronting and when you take-in the subtitle, there is no guessing what the book is about — Murder with Malice in Melbourne. I suspect my editor threw up her head with frustration; bloody Gerry with his alliterations again. I can’t help myself.
Given that I have churned out ten volumes to date, it is surprising that so few relate to my home town in Australia, but this one does. I have pulled-back on the humor a little (but not completely) in order to write a whodunit that I hope is mystifying and absorbing. A public figure is murdered in a public place and the usual suspects are trotted out. However, the local Johnnies get more than they bargained for and complications arise.
I have set the drama in the sixties and entwined historical fact into the fiction. It was the time of large-scale Italian migration to our shores and the establishment of the mafia in this country. I can say that lawyers and journalists don’t come out of my book very well, but you wouldn’t expect them to, would you?
My Other Books
Sheepishly, I must confess that I did a bit of pontificating in my first two books and fantasy was in there, too. Some local editor said I read a bit like David Sedaris and I rushed to find out who he was. He didn’t have a big profile in this country. Then along came the protagonist I had been intuitively nurturing for years; an ageing chick magnet, who was a cross between James Bond and Maxwell Smart.
Patrick Pesticide aka Paddy Pest took over my life, and insisted on writing all the books himself. Initially, they were all short stories, which he claimed were better than mine and included more sex. I had to tolerate him because he picked up a few awards but, eventually, I penned Paddy’s People, which was an exposé of all the peripheral people in the crime-fighter’s life. The book won a bronze medal for best fiction in Australia and New Zealand.
Being ex-advertising, I was used to 30 and 60 second commercials and the prospect of an 80,000 word tome was daunting. Nevertheless, I got around to it and Paddy appeared in my first two novels. In The Snoodle Contract, he saved President Gus Snoodle’s life and they became lifelong friends. As you might expect, from that point on, Pest was unbearable and I decided to take a holiday from crime.
I have never had any interest in science fiction but I decided this was the way to go; just for a change. The Replicants, has been called a send-up and a scathing satire and received great reviews. One of them I couldn’t have written myself.
I’ve listed some review excerpts for my books. It makes me feel better about myself and might convince you to try one of them. You can see my whole book list on my website, with the award annotations.
Burke’s prose fires one-liners and salty jokes at machine-gun speed. He has a well-furnished mind, an ingenious intellect, and a prodigious vocabulary dedicated to making readers laugh. — Joe Kilgore, US Review
I was completely absorbed in the narrative, in the author’s unique, inimitable style, and the writing that conjures up powerful images in the minds of readers. I read this novel from cover to cover, and was utterly immersed in the action. — Christian Sia, Readers’ Favorite
Pest On The Run was a pleasure to read and I am happy to rate it as 4.5 out of 5 stars. — Raymond Mathiesen, Raymond Mathiesen Reviews
5 out of 5 stars for The Hero of Hucklebuck Drive by Gerry Burke. — US Review
Gerry Burke evinces an engaging sense of humor with many wry asides that may remind some readers of Peter DeVries’s comic novels. –– Barry Lyons, IndieReader
My Other Interests
Everyone starts somewhere. I began my working life as an accountant for a mining company and spent time in New Guinea. Then my advertising career began as a copywriter and ended as a Creative Director and flim flam man, with time spent in Indonesia and a number of Australian cities. I was unmarried, wealthy and only partially subservient to the ponies. I then dipped my toe into the racehorse breeding business and have had an interest in over twenty thoroughbreds. I am still unmarried but no longer wealthy.
I couldn’t afford a smart car or a yacht, so it had to be golf or writing. I’m hopeless at golf, so here I am, ten books later, and possibly one of iUniverse’s most prolific yarn-spinners. I always look forward to my editorial evaluation because, no matter how much experience you think you have, these editors know more. Being an advertising creative, I also look forward to the design process and the guys and gals rarely let me down.
My Other Thoughts
I know it is always expected that a guest author should elaborate on his influences and proffer advice but this is sometimes difficult. As you have read, there have been comparisons made regarding my style but I have not been aware of these people and, quite frankly, one probably picks-up skills unconsciously. Did I read too many Mickey Spillane paperbacks; or did I harvest dialogue from a Humphry Bogart movie? If so, Raymond Chandler gets the nod.
What can I say to prospective authors? It’s a hard grind. It probably will not come easy. You will always have doubts concerning the quality of your work. It’s best to start small and build-up. My first book was almost a pamphlet and that’s because I didn’t know any better. Each volume became bigger than the previous and, with it, I was able to overcome some of the mistakes and inexperience of the virgin author.
Gerry’s website can be found at www.gerryburke.net .