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Ken Bruen

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Ken Bruen, in addition to writing several of the most acclaimed British crime novels of the past decade, has a varied past that includes stints teaching in Africa and Vietnam, four months in a South American prison, a brief period as a security guard at the World Trade Center, and work as an actor for horror film director Roger Corman. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and divides his time between Galway, Ireland, and South London. He is the author of eleven books, including London Boulevard, The Guards, The Killing of the Tinkers, The Hackman Blues and Shades of Grace.

The following are extracts from an interview with Ken Bruen which was published in The Guardian on June 9, 2001.

"I committed a cardinal sin as a kid," he [Bruen] says. "I never spoke, and my mother thought there was something seriously wrong with me. A silent child is regarded as a problem in Ireland, and I just read all the time."

In 1979, Bruen accepted a teaching post in Rio de Janeiro, but soon after his arrival he was arrested, along with four other Europeans, after a fight broke out in a bar. "The first night the jailors put my head in a bucket of excrement, just to wake me up. The second night they came for the rape sessions. There's not enough alcohol or Valium in the world to wipe out those memories, and there’s the odd night when I'm back in the cell." Bruen says. "After a couple of sessions I went into a kind of catatonia and they gave up on me. I was six stone when I came out, very traumatised, and they put me on a plane to London. I tried to keep in contact with the four other guys. But I’m the only one still functioning: two are dead and two are missing."

The edgy, pitch-black humour in all of Bruen's crime novels springs, he is convinced from a combination of his Irish background and the dark days of his imprisonment. "What saved me was what they call the bad drop in Ireland." he says. "The little drop of bad blood in you that kicks in when you are up against the wall. I didn't know I had it. I seriously considered suicide after I came back from Brazil, but something in me said, 'If I do that, those fuckers have won.' So I decided to write books, just to prove to myself that I was still alive if nothing else."

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