Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I have to begin by saying that Ken Bruen is one of the good guys in this world. He's actually one of the nicest guys I've come across. But, for anyone who's ever read Ken's books you would think he's gotta be a madman. If you've never read his stuff, well what are you waiting for. Ken is the king of gritty crime noir, and he hails from Galway, Ireland. He is the author of 20+ novels including the Jack Taylor series which begins with "THE GUARDS". He also has another series with Inspector Brant. He has 2 recent stand alone's set in the U.S., "AMERICAN SKIN" and "ONCE WERE COPS" and recently combined with Reed Farrel Coleman to pen "TOWER". Ken was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit down and answer some questions for an interview series to begin here on "Signs & Wonders". To Ken I am eternally grateful. Gra Mor ! So here we go with Mr. Ken Bruen.

S&W: Which do you look for, great music or great songwriting? KB: Great songwriting first and if you can find both, alleluia.

S&W: Can you name a songwriter who you think would make a great novelist? KB: Tom Russell and he's currently writing a novel, Jim Sallis is a terrific musician.

S&W: Does music have an influence or a role in your writing process? KB: Hugely, I sometimes describe a character solely by the music he listens to.

S&W: Do you ever hear a song or see a film & that's my life or been there done that? KB: Ash Wednesday by Tom Russell and Paris Texas, I think,... that's my life.

S&W: You're an artist, you paint with words, but if you had to tell your story in another art form, what would it be? KB: I have a Diploma in Art and did a lot of paintings, all crap. I'd love to be a singer songwriter.

S&W: Musicians you can't live without? KB: Gretchen Peters, Tom Waits, Tom Russell, Johnny Duhan, Leonard Cohen.

S&W: In the movie, Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges character "Bad" Blake is asked, where do all the songs come from? He responds "life". Don't you think that's true of most artists, writers included? KB: Absolutely, certainly its true for me.

S&W: It seems to me that the best writers, musicians, and artists have all learned to channel or tame, the "pains" of life. They do it or their destroyed by it. Do you think a person can be an effective artist without the "pain" or getting out there and really living? KB: Yes I do, but the artists and writers I love best have all been wounded.

S&W: If you could sit down to dinner with any one person (living or deceased)to pick their brain. Who and why? KB: Cormac McCarthy, to ask him about his influences, who he reads and what drives him. I love how he has no interest in celebrity. He is one of the truest writers I've ever read and a pure poet.

S&W: Is it every writers dream or nightmare to have his or her book made into a film? KB: Dream, I would think, but after the movie comes out, they are so frequently disappointed.

S&W: 99% of books are better than the film, can you think of some off the top of your head that lived up to the greatness of the book? KB: 4...To Kill A Mockingbird, L.A. Confidential, Paris Trout, The Reader.

S&W: If you can choose anyone to play you in a film, who would it be? KB: Tommy Lee Jones or James Woods.

S&W: Are their any particular actors or directors work who you follow closely? KB: Todd Anderson, Clint Eastwood, Steve Soderbergh, Luc Besson actors Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro.

S&W: What films have stayed with you through the years like an old friend? KB:Thanks to Craig McDonald, Touch of Evil, Double Indemnity, Witness for the Prosecution.

S&W: Who's cooler and sexier writers or musicians? KB: No contest but Musicians, apart from Megan Abbott.

S&W: Final Question...Cormac McCarthy has been able to to achieve mainstream success with "No Country" & "The Road", a Pulitzer & Oprah appearance, but has been able to maintain his pre-breakthrough lifestyle. Daniel Woodrell's film, Winters Bone just won a Grand Jury Award at Sundance & the film could lead to a breakout for Daniel Woodrell. Right now you have 2 films based on your novels ( London Boulevard & Blitz) coming out. You also have the Jack Taylor TV series. You are already a much loved and highly acclaimed writer. After finally achieving mainstream success, do you worry about the changes it can bring to your life or do you embrace it? KB: Oh God, I just embrace it and have to pinch myself. I'm just delighted. What it mainly does is it makes me try to up my game. The new Jack Taylor, headstone, I'm taking huge chances and still not sure if I can pull it off.


  1. I am thrilled with the writer interview concept and the first one with Ken Bruen, is outstanding. Ken is a dynamic personality a great author and a true gentleman, thanks to Ken for being so gracious and responding. More people need to follow your blog. It has a real inside feel to it that makes you feel a part of books, music and movies, life at its best.

  2. Thanks. KB always has something to say that I like hearing/reading.

  3. Ken is one of the best. Thanks for the interview.

  4. A guy I teach with turned me on to the brilliance of Mr. Bruen. Grit, blood, and a healthy scoop of self loathing make his works brilliant. He drops names in his works, but it's not cavalier. He does so to set a mood, to inform the reader of the mind set of the character. His "name dropping" has led me to many the great authors and artists. Thanks Rod, and thank you Mr. Bruen.