Arts Q&A: Crime writer Brian McGilloway on Billy Joel, Tom Waits and James Bond

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Derry crime writer Brian McGilloway

Best-selling Derry-born crime writer and teacher Brian McGilloway
Best-selling Derry-born crime writer and teacher Brian McGilloway

1. When did you think about a career in writing and what were your first steps into it?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a child so it wasn’t really about ever making a conscious decision for a career but rather having a compulsion to write that I needed to satisfy and which then developed into a career.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

Tom Waits in Dublin, 2008. Tom Waits tours so rarely so getting a chance to see him live was amazing. His live show is such an experience – very stripped down in some ways and as vaudevillian as you’d expect from his music. Sublime.

Jamie Cullum in Derry as part of the Jazz Festival a few years back. He’s a brilliant live performer, bouncing around the stage and buzzing with energy. He had the audience on its feet from the start.

Hans Zimmer in Dublin. I went to see this concert twice – first with a friend of mine and then with my brother and my eldest son, Ben. I think Zimmer is a great film composer anyway and the live experience with a full band, orchestra and massed choir was incredible.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

The Divine Comedy. I’ve seen them live more times that I can remember. It’s become a bit of a family tradition now that my sister, brothers and I go together so DC would be the obvious choice here for a family gathering.?

4. The record you’d take to a desert island and why?

Billy Joel’s The Stranger. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant? Vienna? Or Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours. Or Radiohead’s OK Computer. It would change depending on my mood.

5. And the book you’d take?

Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It would withstand multiple rereads. ?

6. Top three films?

The Godfather – a classic. We were in Sicily a few years back and visited Savoca where some of the scenes were shot. It has barely changed.

The Dark Knight – I love superhero movies anyway but this one gets everything right.

Skyfall – I’ve always been a Bond fan. I saw this in London. When he revealed the old Aston Martin in the garage halfway through, the entire cinema started to cheer. The last time I’d seen that reaction was at the end of Rocky 4 and I was 11. I was 11 once more.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I only remember walking out of one movie in my life – VI Warshawski, when I was 17. It was a first date so the movie hadn’t really mattered anyway. I’ve never seen it since. We didn’t manage a second date either so it was a disappointing experience all round.

8. Favourite authors?

Too many to name, but I will stop reading anything to pick up a new James Lee Burke novel.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

Rugby. My son, Tom, started playing a few years ago and I took him to training. As happens, someone asked me to help out, putting out cones etc and two years later I had my qualification done and was coaching a youth team for Strabane Rugby Club.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Lake Garda. We’ve been a few times and it’s the one place to which the whole family is waiting patiently to return to when allowed. ?

11. Pet hates?

Selfishness. People taking and giving nothing back to the community.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Irish Stew. My mum and dad used to make stew on Saturday lunchtime during the winter when we were kids. I have very happy memories of watching Airwolf while eating stew.

Dessert? Ice Cream. Simple, plain.

Drink? Tea. I drink a lot of it while writing.?

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My wife, Tanya.

14. Is there a God?

Yes, I believe so.

Brian McGilloway’s new Inspector Ben Devlin novel, Blood Ties, is available now. Brianmcgilloway.com