Sunday 14 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: RAY BANKS interviews RAY BANKS

Happy news for me yesterday that I had a story accepted at MICROW, a bastard child of FULL OF CROW PRESS.

I've also just completed my first draft of a circular story as part of the round series at Pattinase. Next week it's ERIC BEETNER and I'll have to follow him (using one of his characters) the next. He's a tough act to follow, so I'll simply be trying to hang on to him as he sprints away into the distance.

To Ray Banks. He's a scorched earth kind of writer. Uses Noir like an acronym - takes the 'Normal', turns it 'On its head', 'Introduces a pile of problems' and 'Reaches a climax where everyone's still fucked'.

OK, sometimes I go too far.

He's produced some brilliant novels as you probably know.

You may not know that he's serializing his next novel 'WOLF TICKETS' (great title) in the next 3 issues of the dynamite NEEDLE MAGAZINE. If you haven't bought a Needle before, now you really must.

So here he is, another of Scotland's flowers, Ray Banks:

Q1: Why did you agree to interview yourself?

I thought it would be fun. I didn’t realise you’d be shining a fucking light in my eyes the whole time.

Q2: Why’s your website called The Saturday Boy? Why isn’t it your name or something?

Because there’s a line from a Billy Bragg song called “The Saturday Boy” – “I lied to myself about the chances I wasted” – that provided a nice touchstone for Innes’ character. And because I’m not comfortable with promoting myself over the books.

Q3: Talking of name changes, how come Donkey Punch became Sucker Punch in the US?

They thought the term would put people off buying the book, which is understandable. Believe me, I need all the readers I can get, and the title hardly helped my UK sales, did it?

Q4: Why don’t you blog anymore?

I realised that there was no point typing into a void for free when I could spend that time writing a book. I also started to think that people who read blogs on a regular basis aren’t doing so for any new information – they’re reading to see their own opinions reflected back. Having said that, I have blogged a little over at Do Some Damage and Mulholland Books.

Q5: Why write crime?

Because at its best it’s literary social fiction with a rattling good plot. All human life is there and the possibilities are infinite, despite what some people would have you believe.

Q6: Anything else float your boat?

A lot of things. I’m a bit of a horror nerd, and a massive comedy nerd – Galton and Simpson are gods in my house.

Q7: Anything of yours going to come out for the Kindle?

If you’d asked me that a year ago, I would’ve snorted at you and then pissed in your pocket. Now the answer is possibly. We’ll see. It’s certainly an option.

Q8: Why were there only 4 Cal Innes books – I heard there were supposed to be 5?

Because the Leith chapters in Beast of Burden were originally going to be their own book, but in the end they were more effective as part of the last Innes.

Q9: You always seem to be having a pop at thriller writers. What’s the story there?

The story is you’ve completely missed the fucking point. I’m not having a pop at thriller writers, I’m having a pop at anti-intellectualism for the sake of shifting a few extra books. There’s nothing the matter with literary ambition, especially considering novels are one of the few truly personal art forms left.

Q10: Alright, calm down. Give us your top five crime novels and we’ll untie you.

Easy. The Burnt Orange Heresy, Charles Willeford; GBH, Ted Lewis; He Died With His Eyes Open, Derek Raymond; The Death of Sweet Mister, Daniel Woodrell; and Guns, Ed McBain.


  1. Nowt wrong with a bit of anti-intellectualism. No way is Roland Barthes better than Lionel Bart... one of the things I wish I'd seen is G&Ss 'Murder at Oil Drum Lane'. One of my mates saw it and said it was cracking... The Cal Innes quartet is fantastic. (as is GUN).Top interview, top turn.

  2. Oh, gad! This reminds me I've got NO MORE HEROES waiting on me.

  3. Thanks for a great interview Ray. I agree with what you say about crime fiction, some of the best writing comes from the genre and it is definitely social commentary.

  4. I'd reply, but my own opinion of you would be glaring at me, mocking, thumbing it's nose at me. And this I could simply not take at 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning without any coffee buzzing through my system.

  5. You, Richard and Tom Wolfe say genre is the only fiction that matters these days. I agree. I'd probably argue with you about blogging a bit. At least some of them are well worth reading. I'd also agree with your opinion of most of the one that are obviously written by folks with a real deep set need to be a late night radio host. I don't do one because I'm just not that interesting.

  6. say what aj? - i'd be there at least once a week

  7. I hasten to take an enormous exception to my remark about "deep set need to be late night talk show host." That exception and a huge one, is Seth Harwood's CrimeWAV site. No one does more for our art than Seth. If you don't know about Seth's place, you should listen in at: