Exclusive guest post!

Author Derek Farrell pops in to talk about life in lockdown, short stories and #OnLymeCrime

I don’t know what’s happening where you are, but I’m sitting in West Sussex in a heatwave that’s got the air feeling like slowly cooked rhubarb – thick and syrupy and almost impossible to suck oxygen from it.

And I’m slightly shellshocked, and not just because of the heat.

A few months ago when I – along with most of the rest of the world – went into lockdown, I looked at my calendar and crossed my fingers. After a few years of doing a couple of book-related events each year, 2020 was going to be my year: I had book clubs, festivals and readings lined up – a packed schedule of fun ways to meet more crime fiction fans and sell the Gospel of The Danny Bird Mysteries.

And maybe, I told myself – just maybe – they wouldn’t all be cancelled. Except as it became obvious that this wasn’t just a minor blip and that the pandemic was catching hold, many of them were cancelled.

And yet, despite all this free time, I found myself in limbo with regards to my writing. A project I’d planned required a lot of physical research in parts of London I now couldn’t get to. I tried doing the research remotely and then decided that the whole endeavour – the remote research and the topic I’d been considering – was to dark, too depressing.

So I turned my hand to a new (for me) form.

The last time I wrote short stories was – well, it was so long ago that I suspect I may have been wearing a school uniform. Most people who know me will tell you that I’m a fan of words (my publishers, Fahrenheit Press, have joked in the past that my acknowledgements are responsible for one-third of their print costs some years). But I had an idea, a nasty little character I’d been toying with for a while and I was slowly coming to the realisation that he didn’t fit in any of the books I’d been trying to write.

So I’d put him to one side. Now I picked him up, and I asked that fatal question: “What would happen to him if…”

Well, the shellshock comes about because I’ve had an offer on the results of that question – a vicious little short story that will be published soon, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am by that fact. If you like your fiction dark and disturbing, this could well be for you. And if you like my Danny Bird mysteries, I think you’ll enjoy the stygian humour and justice of the piece.

And this weekend, in celebration of the publication of “The Return” (another lockdown short story, which appears in the anthology Noir From The Bar) and of the ongoing success of Death of a Sinner (a novella in a tete-beche edition available exclusively from Fahrenheit Press), I’m appearing at one of those festivals that had to cancel.

Lyme Crime was scheduled to take part in the amazing Marine Theatre in the beautiful seaside town of Lyme Regis on the south coast of England, but is now a virtual festival called #OnLymeCrime. I’ll be chatting with Rachel Ward about cosy crime, the craft of mixing dark topics with light in our fiction and her fear of finding corpses when talking the dog for a walk. I’ll also be reading at a special (and hugely exciting) #OnLymeCrime virtual Noir At The Bar, and I’ll be chatting to one of my dearest friends, Mr Neil Broadfoot, about what brought two very different writers from two very different places from a stand-off at a festival bar to the sort of mates who can make each other howl with just a word or two.

I hope you’ll join me and a host of crime fiction luminaries at #OnLymeCrime, that you enjoy Death of a Sinner, and that you buy the Noir From The Bar anthology (all profits are going to NHS Charities Together) and enjoy “The Return”.

And now I really know why I’m feeling shellshocked: I’m EXHAUSTED. Still: there’s a new Danny to be written, so onwards!

Derek Farrell is the author of Death of a Diva, Death of a Nobody, Death of a Devil and Death of an Angel. The books have been described as “Like MC Beaton on MDMA”… Derek’s jobs have included burger dresser, David Bowie’s paperboy, and investment banker, and he has lived and worked across the world. He’s married to the most English man on the planet and lives in West Sussex. They have no pets, but they do have every Kylie Minogue record ever made.

Thanks to Derek for dropping in to keep us updated on what he’s up to – if you haven’t picked up a Danny Bird novel, I highly recommend you do, cracking mysteries, frequently hilarious, and with more heart than you would ever think could be put on a page.

#OnLymeCrime (“It’s murder by the sea”) runs from today until Sunday, check out the festival Facebook page for timings and how to tune in (you need to register for Noir At The Bar). There are some great authors lined up to take part, so get yourself in front of a screen (maybe with an ice-cream, or at least a long, cold drink).

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