I was hoping to meet Donna Moore last night when I went along to see Tony Black's launch of his new release 'Truth Lies Bleeding'.
I was late and got a front row seat. This was good because I was able to get a great view of the event, but not so because I couldn't see who was behind me.
Soon as I turned round afterwards, I was disappointed not to see a huge ball of brightness (for that's how I imagine her to be).
Luckily, there were lots of other good folk there to compensate.
When I went to say hi to Tony, he pulled something from his pocket and told me it was from Donna.
You can imagine the anticipation.
It turned out to be a chocolate frog.
I thought about framing it. How it might look on my wall.
Instead, because I hadn't had any tea, I decided to eat the frog and frame the wrapper. How sweet it tasted.
Anyway, that's quite enough of me.
Left Brain: You're not going to make me look like a numpty are you?
Right Brain: I think you're quite capable of doing that yourself..
Besides, isn't it me who's supposed to be asking the questions?
Left Brain: Oh, right, OK. Let's swap places.
Right Brain: OK. Now. Is it right that...
Left Brain: Wait. I need tea and cake.
Left Brain: Okey doke. Away you go.
Right Brain: So, is it right that...
Left Brain: Wait. You're not going to ask me anything difficult are you?
Right Brain: Like what?
Left Brain: Well...anything to do with maths. Or physics. Or
sculpture. Or classical music. No jazz either. Or chemistry. Or
anything mechanical. No cars, definitely no cars. Or cricket. Flags of
the world I would be a bit dodgy on - unless it was flags of Europe.
Well, flags of Britain. Actually, I might struggle a bit with Wales.
OK, flags are out. Cooking. Let's not do cooking.
Right Brain: Maybe it would be easier to tell me what you WOULD like
to talk about.
Left Brain: Shoes. Shoes are good. Books. Music...well, except
classical and jazz, of course. Punk's good. You can ask me about punk.
Film questions are OK - as long as it's not science fiction or
straight romance. I'd prefer questions on film noir or screwball
comedy. See, there's a lot of things, so stop rolling your eye at me.
Right Brain: Oh, shut up. Nigel will cut us off if you're not careful
and all you've done is babble about flags. Ready now? OK, first
question. Is it true that you once had an unfortunate accident caused
by a duck?
Left Brain: Oh, I can see this is going to be one of THOSE interviews.
Yes. I was in the local park, striding briskly around the edge of the
pond, with The Ramones on my ipod and I was musing over what was going
to happen next in the book I was working on and I had this idea for a
scene in a fetish club. However, it would necessitate some research,
since I've never been to a fetish club, and I was pondering over which
of my friends would be most likely to come with me (the answer I
regretfully came to was 'none'. I realised how desperate I was, having
gone through the list of friends and family, when I was left with my
mother as the only option. That was definitely not going to work - PVC
is something used to cover the stools at the breakfast bar and a
nipple clamp is something my dad might use in the mystery that is the
Anyway the whole issue demanded my full concentration . Suddenly I
caught a movement at my left hand side and my leg was suddenly jabbed
just above the ankle. The first thought that came into my head was
that I'd been mistaken for a Russian dissident and stabbed with a
poisoned umbrella. The second was "I need to get away from the pointy
thing." I half jumped, half fell in the opposite direction from my
attacker, forgetting in my panic that "in the opposite direction from
my attacker" translated as 'into the pond'.
With a splash that reverberated around the park I ended up sitting on
the slimy bottom (not mine, the pond's) in two feet of stagnant water.
Water that was not only full of weeds, irn bru cans, chip papers and
heaven only knows what else (it's a PARK - goodness only knows what
happens there after dark), but which swans and ducks had relieved
themselves in. These swans and ducks were now all paddling towards me
- no doubt eyeing me as an unfeasibly large and savoury piece of bread
that someone had tossed in for their breakfast. On the path at the
side of the pond, one small but particularly belligerent looking duck
was giving me the evil eye, as though to say "Come on punk, make my
Right Brain: I wish I'd never asked.
Left Brain: Me too.
Right Brain: So you "supposedly" write humourous crime fiction. What
do you like to read?
Left Brain: I'm not sure I like the implication of that. I can see you
doing that annoying finger thing when you said 'supposedly'. However,
I will be the bigger woman--
Right Brain: Well, that'll be easy, at least, tubby.
Left Brain: I will be the bigger woman and answer your question. I
like really dark crime fiction, and I like really warped and funny
crime fiction. If I can get both in the same book then so much the
better. Some of my favourite authors and books are Daniel Woodrell,
Joe Lansdale, Allan Guthrie, Ken Bruen, Eddie Muller, Reed Farrel
Coleman, Christa Faust, Barbara Seranella, Ray Banks, Scott Phillips,
Bill Fitzhugh, Steve Mosby, Victor Gischler, Tony Black, Chris Ewan,
Russel McLean, Charles Willeford, Donald Westlake, Charlie Williams,
Anthony Neil Smith, Arnaldur Indridason, Mark Haskell Smith, Helen
Fitzgerald, Christopher Moore, Christopher Brookmyre, Megan Abbott,
Karen Campbell, Douglas Lindsay, Donald Ray Pollock's KNOCKEMSTIFF, John Welter's NIGHT OF THE AVENGING BLOWFISH. John Burns' Max Chard
Right Brain: Do you think you could ever answer a question with a one
Left Brain: Unlikely. Very unlikely.
Right Brain: What about non-fiction?
Left Brain: My favourite non-fiction books of recent times have been
Anna Funder's STASILAND which is various stories about ordinary people
who lived in East Berlin under the STASI regime, and Robert M
Sapolsky's A PRIMATE'S MEMOIR about a young student who goes to Kenya on a research project to study baboons. Both funny and sad.
Right Brain: How are you at DIY?
Left Brain: Aren't YOU supposed to be the side of the brain that is
good at doing practical things. Do you want me to tell the
embarrassing story of how you couldn't assemble the
bathroom cabinets when the plumber was there fitting a new bathroom?
Right Brain. I think you'll find that making stuff is within YOUR
purview on the left. And it WAS easy to assemble.
Left Brain: Easy to assemble? How, may I ask, is "insert screw C into
slot Q and force large plastic thingy L into tiny miniscule hole W. If
you can actually FIND wee plastic thingy L in the box that is. Use
third hand to twist twisty thing M and swear loudly using sweary word
F" easy? I called Edinburgh Zoo but the three-toed sloth was out on a
job building an MFI chest of drawers.
After about half an hour, the results of my labours were:
Inserted - 10 screws
Removed - 8 screws
Turned Side Piece N correct way up
Turned Side Piece M correct way up
Reinserted - 8 screws
Removed and Reinserted - 2 screws
Blisters - 2
Swear words used - 943
I told the plumber - let's call him John, for that is, indeed, his
name - about my blisters and showed him the screwdriver.
"That's a crap screwdriver - where did you get it?"
"Out of a Christmas Cracker."
He just raised his eyebrows.
So, several hours of blood sweat and tears later, one bathroom cabinet
is complete. I proudly dragged John from under the bath to show him my
"Look, a small cabinet - isn't it lovely? Aren't I clever?"
"I've removed the bath, sink, toilet, taken off all the tiles, removed
the old floor, put down plywood ready for the tiles, plumbed in the
new bath and shower attachment."
"Yes, yes... whatever...look at my cabinet."
I wish you hadn't asked about DIY.
Right Brain: So I suppose the question about you falling into a tray
of primrose paint is out then?
Left Brain: Move ON.
Right Brain: Your blog focuses on Scottish crime fiction writers. Why is that?
Left Brain: Because Scottish crime fiction is really strong and
vibrant. There are so many authors who either live in Scotland, or set
their books in Scotland. I think it's the mix of Scotland's history,
gothic sensibility, dark sense of humour that makes it such a fertile
place for I currently have 98 listed. They write noir, PI, cosies,
police procedurals, forensic experts, serial killers, psychological
thrillers, books set in the past, present and future. There are so
many that deserve to be better known.
Right Brain: So, does living in Glasgow help your writing?
Left Brain: It's a brilliant place for odd things to happen. I once
stood at a bus stop deep in thought, only to discover I was trampling
all over evidence from a crime scene- a saw. Public transport is a
fertile, if weird, ground for inspiration. And taxis are always an
adventure. I think whenever I ring a taxi firm the call goes out "Taxi
for Donna - send the nutter."
I had one taxi driver who told me that he was a trained killer and
could kill three people at once with his bare hands. Well thank you,
that's just the sort of credentials I want from a taxi driver. And
then he told me that his old boss annoyed him so much that he (the
taxi driver) threw his (the old boss') leg up on the roof of the
office. Luckily for everyone involved (including my nerves) it was
artificial (the leg, not the roof).
And then there was the taxi driver who cut up a guy on a motorbike.
The biker got off his bike and rapped on the driver's window. Despite
the panicked thought waves I was sending to the driver "Don't put the
window down, just get the hell out of here", he put the handbrake on
and pulled the window down. The motorbike rider leaned over and said
"What the fuck do you think you're doing you fucking bampot?" The two
thoughts running round my head were "Oh my God, we're going to be
killed in a road rage attack" and "nice use of the word 'bampot'. An
increasingly heated argument ensued with lots of macho posturing and
finger pointing and burst blood vessels. Eventually the taxi driver
got out of the car and...I kid you not...gave the man on the motorbike
a Glasgow kiss. Just to clarify here - he headbutted the man on the
motorbike - who, being a law abiding citizen, was wearing a nice,
strong, hard crash helmet. I looked on, my ghast completely flabbered.
I think the man on the motorbike felt exactly the same way, as he just
looked at the taxi driver, bemused. I was just about to roll down my
window and say to the taxi driver "Oy mate, he was quite right, you
ARE a fucking bampot", when he got back into the cab and we carried on
Right Brain: I noticed some bad language in that last answer. Is it
true that our Mum won't read your books?
Left Brain: Quite true. She got as far as half way down the first page
of OLD DOGS before giving up with a "Can't you write a NICE book,
dear?" She even ripped the book out of the hands of someone else,
warning him not to read it. She also thinks that every female over
sixty I write about is based on her. And God forbid I should ever
write a sex scene.
Right Brain: Do you think that means she doesn't love us?
Left Brain: Don't worry, I'm sure she does. Besides, sometimes I think
she's less against swearing than she makes out. Do you remember that
time they went away for their wedding anniversary and we rang up to
say hello and the conversation went something like this:
Me: Happy Anniversary Dad! Are you having a lovely time? How is the
hotel? What's the weather like? Is the food nice? What have you been
doing? What have you seen?
Dad: Hello love, I'll pass you over to your mother.
Me: Hello Mum, happy Anniversary!
Mum: Eee, I've just sat in some shit, but your dad says it's chocolate.
Me (confused): How did he know? Did he lick it?
Right Brain: So she DOES love us, after all, then?
Left Brain: Yes, dear. Here, have some cake.
Right Brain: Wait! Before we finish I have to ask a final question -
are you working on anything at the moment?
Left Brain: Yes. A book set in a seedy Scottish seaside town, a
screenplay set in a retirement community, and the rest of this cake.
and for the brilliant Old Dogs US:
Cracking stuff. Nice to see someone almost as incapable of the practicles as me!ReplyDelete
Stop it, Donna. You’re making me laugh out loud reading this and I’m having a crafty skive at work… Super interview and insight.ReplyDelete
Lovely! This makes me feel so much better about setting myself on fire one Christmas, the exploding chestnuts I roasted another year, and the gallon of red paint I dumped all over my nevvie's brand new off-white carpet and myself.ReplyDelete
Okay, funniest interview I've read in forever... Donna Moore, the coolest chick in crime fiction.ReplyDelete
"I was disappointed not to see a huge ball of brightness (for that's how I imagine her to be)"ReplyDelete
Well, you got the 'huge ball' bit right, at least :o). Thanks Nigel, it was fun to do. And sorry Alan!
Paul and Naomi - maybe we should start a club. Heath - aw, shucks, you are too kind.ReplyDelete
Donna, laughing till tears are running down my face...oops, not Donna, I mean Left Brain and Right Brain. Brains, have you seen the photo of what Donna thinks is a practical way to choose onions at a grocery? And Donna, a screwdriver in a Christmas Cracker-what good luck! I am still laughing about the Glasgow Kiss on the biker's helmet....and thinking of good word usage while in fear of Big Bad Stuff-both brains at work! :-) I do agree, Scottish fiction has so much to give to us readers, including your fiction. Good Interview, you Big Ball of Brightness! When will those tee shirts be out, BBofB? BBOB? Wouldn't that confuse bampot taxi drivers thinking...."is that how boob is spelled?" :-) And a photo of you on the shirt. Oh wait, BBOBBB-Big Ball of Brightness Both Brains...gosh your names are fun! Hmmm....maybe I will apply for a taxi driving job in Glasgow?ReplyDelete
Thanks for a great interview, Donna and Nigel, it was grand!
I'm writing a letter to Craig Ferguson (the stateside late, late night telly host)demanding that you be flown to the States immediately. Craig claims that there are only two funny people in Scotland, so that makes you one of them. he also claims that they're [whoever they are] are out to get you. (Craig might not be so glad to see you though, because you are much funnier than he is and thus, might take his job away.) However do not be surprised if a mystery air ticket to Southern California arrives in your mailbox someday soon. Of of the best interviews EVER! (though I am going to speak jup for equal treatment for the top brain and the bottom brain as well as both end brains).ReplyDelete
Bobbie - ah, my lovely big onions :o) Do you think the woman in the supermarket has forgotten yet?ReplyDelete
AJ - why thank you! Somehow, I think Craig Ferguson's job is safe, though :o)