Ep:080 Derek Farrell is the author of five Danny Bird Mysteries - ‘Death of a Diva’ ‘Death of a Nobody,’ ‘Death of a Devil,’ ‘Death of an Angel’ and the novella ‘Death of a Sinner’- all published by Fahrenheit Press. The sixth in the series will be published in early 2021.
Derek is married and lives with his husband in West Sussex. They have no cats dogs goats or children, though they do have every Kylie Minogue record ever recorded. Twice.
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Derek Farrell's Website
Death Of An Angel by Derek Farrell
Danny Bird Mysteries Series
Purchase Danny Bird Mysteries Directly From Publisher
Derek on Twitter
Derek on Instagram
Nighthawking by Russ Thomas
Dead As A Doornail by Grant Michaels
Brad Shreve's Website
[00:00:00] My guest today, Derek Farrelltells us about the two words that made him cry. And Justene recommends an author second novel that she loved just as much as the first. Hi, this is Brad and I'm here with Justene
Justene: [00:00:23] Hi, this is Justene and I'm here with Brad.
Brad Shreve: [00:00:26] and this is Queer Writers of Crime, where we feature LGBTQ authors of mystery, suspense, and thriller novels.
Justene: [00:00:34] Sounds like a good day.
Brad Shreve: [00:00:36] It's a good start. I think we'll get this eventually.
Justene: [00:00:39] No, we won't. There's a lot of shows that have been on a far longer than we have with far better hosts and they don't get that part. right.
Brad Shreve: [00:00:48] I don't think I told you but
. we had two donors to Buy Me a Cup of Coffee, which. As I always say, it's very easy to do. There's a button right on your phone there in the show notes, , the two people, one [00:01:00] was Mark Jacobs gave a donation.
So thank you very much, Mark. And another is a person that was a guest on the show and that's Garrett Hudson.
Justene: [00:01:08] Oh, good.
Brad Shreve: [00:01:08] And thank you, Garrett and
Justene: [00:01:10] both their names from the internet.
Brad Shreve: [00:01:13] Well, good deal. And they both, when stress that, , they liked both of us.
Justene: [00:01:17] That's great. So you won't have to fire me again this year.
Brad Shreve: [00:01:20] No. Yeah. At least another week.
Justene: [00:01:22] There you go.
Brad Shreve: [00:01:24] I'll have to find a replacement. First. I've been looking out, I've been looking all over LinkedIn.
Justene: [00:01:30] Likely story. So you listen to any other podcasts lately. Brad?
Brad Shreve: [00:01:35] Well, you know, since you've turned me on to podcast, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts and I have been chatting with a lot of different podcasters and we talk back and forth. And if we like each other's show, we say so, and I can tell you, there's a lot of shows that asked me to say something about them.
and I say, No,
Justene: [00:01:55] They are not show you like Not your cup of tea.
Brad Shreve: [00:01:58] No, not just that. they weren't my cup of [00:02:00] tea. I'm, fine with the show. that's not my cup of tea. They were more of the quality, like we were in the first few episodes.
Justene: [00:02:05] I see. Well, they'll get better check back in a year.
Brad Shreve: [00:02:08] Yeah, exactly.I say called me in a year, we'll talk.
Justene: [00:02:11] All right.
Brad Shreve: [00:02:11] So there's a new one I've checked out and I'm going to recommend it. It's called The Forbidden Apple. And it's hosted by two friends, Pelayo Alvarez, and Melissa Weiss and Melissa Weisz grew up in an Orthodox Jewish Hasidic home in a very religious environment. And then Pelayo was raised Catholic back in Spain.
So as you can imagine also a very religious environment,
Justene: [00:02:35] Yeah. Yep.
Brad Shreve: [00:02:37] Together. They give a voice to LGBT voices and they explore what spirituality means to them.
Justene: [00:02:43] Wow. That sounds like a good one.
Brad Shreve: [00:02:45] Yeah, it is a good one. So I suggest everyone check them out. It's Forbidden, Apple podcast and they are on all streaming. So wherever you listen to this show, you'll find them there as well.
Justene: [00:02:56] Good. Sounds really good.
Brad Shreve: [00:02:58] And then I need to tell you something that [00:03:00] might surprise you.
Justene: [00:03:01] I dunno. Nothing can surprise me about you, Brad.
Brad Shreve: [00:03:04] No, No. This is, This is interesting. Two weeks ago, you gave a recommendation to Double Vice written by Chris Holcomb.
Justene: [00:03:13] Well, I really liked that book.
Brad Shreve: [00:03:15] Yup. And I asked you, I said, I know it's the first in a series, but is this the author's first book? And you said, no, I don't think so. He certainly doesn't write like, it's his first book. Well, I looked on Amazon and unless he's written under a pseudonym, it is his first book.
Justene: [00:03:32] Wow. Wow. It's really great. Especially for a debut novel.
Brad Shreve: [00:03:37] Yeah. He came out of the starting gate pretty well.
Justene: [00:03:40] I have to track him down. Get him on the show. No pressure.
Brad Shreve: [00:03:45] So I think you're up,
Justene: [00:03:48] okay, well,
All right. So the author I'm reviewing today, his first book was a great book. I recommended it last year, Fire Watching, , on the July 2nd show with [00:04:00] Ann Aptaker, , who wrote Flesh and Gold. He's he's actually published by a big house. He's Simon & Schuster in the UK and GP Putnam here in the U S. And that was a terrific book.
And I don't always do a second book for an author. , Please, if you like the author pick up a book book, I recommend it or another and then keep reading them. , but this one I think is particularly special and I'd really like to people to take a look at this,
Brad Shreve: [00:04:27] And you've also asked several times that people would let you know what they think.
Justene: [00:04:31] Yes. Nobody talks to me. I, you know, only you Brad.
Brad Shreve: [00:04:36] I try. It's my job.
Justene: [00:04:37] that's right.
Brad Shreve: [00:04:39] So send in an email or leave a voicemail and let Justene know what you think of the book she recommends.
Justene: [00:04:44] And, and people do say that I don't, I don't want to let people know that you know, that I have seen comments , and I, and I've seen them. So don't feel like I'm ignoring all you people who do tell me what you like.
Brad Shreve: [00:04:56] Okay.
Justene: [00:04:57] And, Double Vice was a particular hit with [00:05:00] people. So the second book in the Fire Watching Series, and I don't know if it's a series, but it features the same characters and it has the same kind of themes going forward.
, It's called Nighthawking, you know, nighthawking is Brad?
Brad Shreve: [00:05:14] Uh, no, I don't.
Justene: [00:05:16] It's the theft of archeological artifacts from protected archeological sites and areas under the cover of darkness
Brad Shreve: [00:05:23] I would never have guessed that
Justene: [00:05:25] no, no, no. Uh, and reading the book I would have guessed at night Hawking just referred to a type of metal detecting after dark, but I would not have added in the theft of archeological artifacts.
but that is the premise of this book. There's a group of metal detectorists who go out to a. site that's under construction. They'd pull down some old buildings and they were about to build some new buildings and they went out in the middle and they found 13, very old, very rare, very good [00:06:00] condition, Roman coins, which they decided not to turn over to the government under the treasure hunters map.
, partly because they wanted to keep the money. , although if you know, they didn't have the right. Provenance is probably worth, they're only worth 8 million. And, you know, if they turned them over, they probably wouldn't have been worth 80 million, because they weren't stolen, but they mostly didn't want to turn them over because they didn't want to get into trouble for, going onto the site and under the cover of darkness, they would didn't know quite what the, ramifications of that would be.
Sadly the ramifications for not turning it over and going the, in the wrong direction, ended up in at least one death. , and the murder, which starts the case one of them stumbles upon. something that picks up a noise on the metal detector and it goes digging and ends up, turning up a body and he takes off.
But then when the police come in and uncover the body, [00:07:00] they find that there's a skeleton and in her eyes are two of the Roman coins. So that's where we start off. , that we see the points of view from the various nighthawking things early on. You don't know who they are, but as you get further into the book, you start to find out details about it.
So D S Tyler or who has been in the first book and all of the various other officers from the first book at the end, , there was a big scene in officers got injured and it's a year later and they're all kind of still licking their wounds. One of whom at least is suffering from PTSD. And just coming back to the job.
D S Tyler is, gay. though he doesn't seem to have any relationships worth talking about at the moment. And that, that is the effects of what he's been through. So the book has several mysteries. The, the body with the coins is one of them. the deaths of, Adam [00:08:00] Tyler's father, which was deemed a suicide, uh, many years ago now appears to be a suspicious death.
And he's got all the purloined files from his father's cases. His father was also a police officer, and he's still working on unraveling the mystery. And then also in the background is a missing five-year-old boy who'd gone missing, six months ago and they just found his body and the detective that was in charge of that missing persons investigation has been taken off the force under investigation.
And some intrigue there about just what was going on and why. she didn't do the job she was supposed to have done so intertwined with all that. Uh, the book is not . Quick read. It's not one of those summer afternoon beach reads. It's quite the, uh, Epic tale. Give yourself a few nights for it. The writing is glorious. The, the, plots all intertwined together in ways you don't expect. [00:09:00] Everything ends up being related at the end, although not in the way you would guess it is there. And there's a lot of danger along the way. And a lot of the same police officers getting into, , some of the same difficulties along the way.
There's some corruption in the police force and that does not get resolved in this book. So I'm really looking forward to the next one.
Brad Shreve: [00:09:22] And it's Nighthawking
Justene: [00:09:24] Nighthawking
Brad Shreve: [00:09:25] and I don't think he said who it's by.
Justene: [00:09:27] Russ Thomas, the great Russ Thomas whose debut book was well-written and this one is even better. And, uh, you know, , John Morgan, Wayne Wilson says the second book is always the hardest, but I think he's done himself justice here.
Brad Shreve: [00:09:42] second book is scary.
Justene: [00:09:44] Second can book a scary, , but it's a very well-written book and it has a lot of details. You get to know the body first body is found in the Sheffield botanical gardens. And so there's a lot of detail. And then the. plot takes you to the [00:10:00] greenhouses. We have a, one of the national greenhouses in which they can recreate the growing conditions of any place in the world. And they grow rare plants under the original conditions. So if you have, uh, say Africa, the lights up top are burning blazing like the desert and there's then another section there's moisture that comes out just the right time so that, the plants have the same kind of humidity they have out in the wild.
And this is based on a real place actually is a real place. , and he does that justice too. I think it, Deep into the greenhouse was not something I'd ever read about in any books, either nonfiction or, or tourists, or, you know, I watch a lot of those, , documentaries on the discovery channel. And this was something that I had not really been aware of,
Brad Shreve: [00:10:53] And what do you rate this book?
Justene: [00:10:55] gets an intriguing recommendation. I can not recommend this book highly enough.
[00:11:00] Brad Shreve: [00:11:00] Wow. You've been on a roll lately.
Justene: [00:11:02] I have been very lucky with the books I've picked up. I got to say, you know, I, I tend to, you know, pick up one here and there. Sometimes I put them down. Sometimes I'll tell you, you know, the book I thought I wanted this weekend, not so much. Um, but the last couple of weeks I have really enjoyed the ones I've selected.
Brad Shreve: [00:11:20] I do want to let people know that sometimes we have to put off a recording because Justene says I haven't read any good ones lately. And then boom, she, then she finds a lovely
Justene: [00:11:30] Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, people don't think I have, I recommend every book I read
Brad Shreve: [00:11:35] No that's for sure. Alright
Justene: [00:11:37] All right. See you next week.
Brad Shreve: [00:12:00] my guest, Derek Farrell is the author of five. Danny Bird mysteries, all published by Fahrenheit Press. The most recent death of an angel was published in early 2019. The sixth in the series will be published in early 2021. Derek has married and lives with his husband in West Sussex.
They have no cats, dogs, goats, or children. Though they do have every Kylie Minogue record ever recorded twice. Hello, Derek.
Derek Farrell: [00:12:30] Thanks for having me.
Brad Shreve: [00:12:32] It's a pleasure to have you on and I have to start off with one question. Your intro says that your next book comes out in early 2021. Well, you know, it's early 2021.
Derek Farrell: [00:12:47] Yeah. Well, I guess my publisher would argue that anything up to Q4 is early2021. So it was delivered. It was delivered just before Christmas. , it should be out by the, by the [00:13:00] summer. I would hope
Brad Shreve: [00:13:01] So it is coming
Derek Farrell: [00:13:03] It's done. I'm I'm finished my bits done. It's done to the publisher now.
Brad Shreve: [00:13:09] Now, if I recall, we met on Twitter, didn't we?
Derek Farrell: [00:13:12] Yes. Yeah,
yeah. That, that, that's where we first met.
Brad Shreve: [00:13:15] , we were following each other because we were authors or you were following the podcast and one day, for whatever reason, I looked at your profile and pulled up, , your Amazon page. And I was like, Why haven't you ever contacted me in, why didn't I ever contact you?
What's the deal? So I'm glad that happened. And I'm glad you're on the show. So you're Danny Bird mysteries. There's four of them right now. Describe to me who Danny Bird is.
Derek Farrell: [00:13:46] Okay. So Danny Bird is essentially an, every man he's a, a young gay man living in London. Um, at for most of his life to date, [00:14:00] he's been sort of doing a, sort of a dead end job as a mailroom boy in a magazine. And he's been living with a much wealthier boyfriend, um, and his life has sort of settled and plodding along until one day he goes into work.
Discoveries he's being laid off because it's the 21st century. Now it has mailroom boys cause then a mail, , and gets home earlier than expected to discover his longstanding boyfriend in bed with a window cleaner. Um, and Danny basically just draws a line in the sand and realizes, okay, I've been coasting, it's all been going without me actually controlling it.
So he decides to leave. He goes back to his parents. He ends up living in his parents' flats and sleeping in the bunk bed that he last slept in when he was 15 years of age. Um, and. Long story shorter. He ends up running. What's been described as the worst gay bar on the planet. It's [00:15:00] a complete dive. , and, uh, the, the interior deco is, uh, the sort of color that can only be described as slow Arctic long.
and , it was last decorated, uh, on the Queen's Silver Jubilee, but the queen in question was Victoria, not Elizabeth, So, it's, it's a pretty grim place. And he ends up basically settling in there and trying to restart his life and take control. But he's a character I've fallen in love with.
And luckily for me, a lot of other people have as well.
Brad Shreve: [00:15:30] what do you love about him?
Derek Farrell: [00:15:32] his honesty, his, uh, ethics, um, he's smart. , he's always able to think of the right thing to say. I don't know about you, but, but in my case, one of the reasons I like to be a Writers. Cause I hate that moment. When 10 minutes after someone's left the room, you think, Oh, that's what I should've said to them.
But, uh, in Danny's case I can go back two pages and put that line in. So Danny's, that is a lot, a lot sharper and a lot funnier than most of us are. [00:16:00] Um, but mainly it's his, it's his ethos. He really genuinely believes in fairness and injustice. , and he can't bear to see injustice, , at, in any way. And, and obviously, I mean, that's great for a crime series protagonist because you tend to get one extreme or the other, you either get the incredibly jaded world weary old hack.
Who's just waiting through filth. Um, I, my case you've got someone who is not Mary Sunshine. I mean, he says, you know, he's cynical enough and world wary enough, but he genuinely believes that if you fight hard enough, you can get some form of justice out in the world.
I'm of an age where I remember bars being a huge part of the whole LGBT culture and, and, you know, it's, it's where people found community and I know the world is changing drastically.
Again, I'm an old fart. So I'm going to say the world is changing. Not always for the better, [00:17:00] um, but absolutely. You know, you found your community, but that didn't mean to say that you found sanitary toilets or, you know, dance floors that you could actually move on to that sticking like Velcro.
Brad Shreve: [00:17:11] Regarding the gay bars, everybody's talking about the demise of them because people can hook up with the apps. There's still going to be plenty around, I think because there are times people just want to hang out and dance. So yeah, those who just want to get laid, they're probably gonna wear their apps, not go to the bar, but does those who want to go out and have a good time
they'll still be around just like bath houses are virtually dead, but there will always be some around because some people like that environment.
Derek Farrell: [00:17:38] Yeah. I mean, it, it's an absolutely valid point. And you can see, particularly in parts of North America where some of the big cities, the gentrification has basically priced out a lot of the bars from areas where they went into because they were cheap. And low rent areas. Similar thing is happening out here [00:18:00] and in London where, you know, there's, uh, a couple of bars I really liked that in the last few years have really come this close to being bought by a pizza chain or whatever.
And like, I think there's always going to be a need for them. The, one of the challenges we have in London is, a lot of the ones on the periphery that are gone there, , they were the first ones to go because they were easy to get rid of. , and they were, the property prices were going up.
So there was a real sort of land grab by landlords and so on. But in the middle of London, there are still a few. But , the question is after we come out of lockdown and we come out of COVID-19, what will be left for us all, but we live in hope, but as you say, there's all, even if they all go, it's only a matter of time before somebody says we need the bar opens, went up.
Brad Shreve: [00:18:48] , the Castro in San Francisco, it really had changed a lot gentrification there yet still gay community, but nothing like it is to be lot of the, the bars have become [00:19:00] mixed, which I guess there's nothing wrong with that, but losing that one area of community, which disappoints me.
Derek Farrell: [00:19:06] yeah, and it's that thing as well, where it's like, okay, bars where safe spaces, where, when they were primarily LGBT bars, they were safe spaces, you know, there's that of like, Oh, the world is safer. You don't need safe spaces, but then I'm not entirely sure that that's true because there is, there are still people who are made to feel uncomfortable.
Or, you know, people who are just more, more secure being themselves and, and particularly early on in their lives discovering themselves in a less mixed environment. But I mean, interestingly enough, that sales pitch Death Of an Angel, which is the most recent of the novels, that's sort of one of the big themes behind that, the area where the bar it was located, it's called Burr.
Um, and it's in there, it's on the South side of the river Thames. , and it was for many [00:20:00] years a pretty working class area. , but the amazing thing is you can stand on this really working class area. There's a major railway station and let's be honest, the billionaires rarely put their hat there.
They're luxury apartments next to a major railway station, but you can stand there and you can see the city of London just across the river. So the billions are there and the high rises and so on. , and so it was a lot of social housing, um, and. When you walk around that neighborhood, now the billionaires have moved in, you know, they, we have, Tom Daley and, and, Dustin Lance Black, the guy who wrote Milk, they have, their loft apartment there and there are certain luck.
And it's, it's really interesting. You've got one street is new loft developments that go for upwards from a million upwards. Next street is still social housing. , and I was really interested in the way that a lot of the developers are basically trying to make it easier for the social developing people to find somewhere else to go.
They can't quite legally drive them [00:21:00] out when they do everything in their power to, to basically grab the land because it's now becoming more and more profitable. Um, and so there's a, there's a whole. Well, it's not even a, sub-plot, it's one of the primary plots and Death of an Angel is a, a woman who lives in one of the sucker project in the States.
So she lives in a project, but she goes two streets over and as a cleaning lady and whether the big developments for millionaires, who very often don't even live in the apartments because they're just investments. , and one night she falls from her balcony. So the question is, did she follow what she pushed?
And if she was pushed, was it because of something that she saw in the projects or something that she saw in the luxury development that she, she cleans? Um, and yeah, the whole background to that is, is people basically making land grabs. You would think it's something that happened in the 19th century, you know, in the wild West, but wherever there's money and in London, property is money.
So people are [00:22:00] doing terrible things to the social classes. Basically, you just drive them out. They went, where are they going to go? Wherever they go. The money will follow in 10 years, 20 years later, that becomes desirable. So I'll push that again.
Brad Shreve: [00:22:14] Yeah, we have a park here in Los Angeles has been around forever named MacArthur Park and the park itself is pretty scary to go in, especially at night and the area around it is very diverse, mostly poor, but the last time I was there, I'm seeing in the middle of these old. Rundown apartment buildings that people are living in brand spanking new, beautiful condominiums.
So there's no doubt in my mind, probably in a debt within a decade, it's all going to change. And like you said, where are those people going to go?
Derek Farrell: [00:22:50] and it will change exponentially faster because once they start selling those condominiums, the new inhabitants, if [00:23:00] they, if they move into them, They're not going to walk out on the streets. Yeah. They're going to want a Starbucks in the Lululemons. They're not going to want a bodega and you know, uh, a local grocery store.
So they will quickly find that their rents jacked up and they go, and then it means that the residents, the residents who've been there, their whole lives, where are they going to shop? They don't need yoga there. They want somewhere that they can buy vegetables and stuff. And it becomes exponentially faster.
I mean, we, we've seeing this in so many cities , and of course, half the time, even before the yuppies, the real canaries in the coal mine are the gays who move into the horrible neighborhoods and basically. Gentrified them, I'm pretty them up and then do themselves out because once they've made it attractive and brought attention to it, that we go and in come.
Like you say that, that straight couples with a house in the Hamptons.
Brad Shreve: [00:23:54] Yeah, we're seeing that all over this country. It gave us a little taste of Death of an Angel. [00:24:00] What more can you tell us about it?
Derek Farrell: [00:24:02] um, it's the most personal thing I've ever written? Um, I can't give it away because it would be a spoiler, but if I never wrote another thing after the last two words in the book, , that would be fine. I think that I, you know, I can say it because it's not a spoiler. Um, no I won't, it's the last two words.
Um, I, I. I found the first two, Danny Bird books to be really fun and really easy to write because there wasn't really any pressure. You know, I, the first one was written before I'd even considered publication. The second one was half imagined, but not really written, but it was easy. It was fine. The first book hadn't come out when I was writing it, the third one was a little bit more challenging.
And by the time I got to the fourth one, it was like, what am I doing with this? What do I want to do? Um, and it was very much the point where I was like, okay, I want to tell a story, but I also want to have. A social point, which makes it sound [00:25:00] very worthy. Um, it's not, um, what can I tell you about it? It has the lowest profanity count of any of them.
So if you don't like profanity, that's the one to start with. Uh, It's an inverse arc. Basically. The first one has the swear words, the second one third. And by the time you get the fourth, I'm able to write without putting an F word on each chapter. Um, there are a couple of plots going on.
That's the one I mentioned about the woman who falls from height, um, at the same time, uh, the pub that Danny runs, which is called the Marquess of Queensberry, which no one's ever picked up on it, but the Marquess of Queensberry was the man. You drove Oscar Wilde to ruin. He was the man who sent Wilde the, the card, the thing to ask about posing in sodomite
um, so he was not only a homophobe, but he couldn't spell either. Um, and. I liked the idea of this old pub being called the Marquess of Queensberry. And it ends up being a gay bar, which is a proper two fingers up in the face of the Marquess. But the [00:26:00] guy who actually owns the pub is a notorious local gangster. Um, and Danny, because he's always in trouble with the law, which is what happens when people keep dying around you.
Danny has acquired the, uh, the use of the gangsters lawyer, and he's a really petite mousy, um, small a woman called Dorothy Frost, who is basically, she looks small, she looks petite, but she's a tiger. Um, and she's incredibly sharp, and incredibly good at her job. And she asks Danny to look into the death of a client of hers who, um, came into our office and said, the only thing bad should happen to me.
I need you to open this envelope. Um, and within a couple of days, the car, he was in, drove off a cliff and he died. And when she opens the envelope. There's nothing in it. It's just loads of newspaper clippings that don't make any sense. Um, so she asks them to try and figure out which of the newspaper clippings is relevant to the death.
So he's trying to investigate those two plots at the [00:27:00] same time. Um, and also trying to balance his love life, which is going somewhat stale. He's been on and off with this pretty policemen. There's a mandatory, pretty policemen. I checked the clause. Um, and this guy's basically they'd been on at often.
Danny says that they're getting stale. So what I've done with Death of an Angel and why I'm so pleased with it is I managed to pull together all the things I wanted to do. Um, and I did it successfully and that, yeah, I cried a lot and I cried at the end and a number of people who have read the book have cried at exactly the same point I did.
And I was like, bro, How magical is that? I mean, yeah. To have an idea and to think about, I want to write that this bit is emotional. This is sad, but if other people read it and they're like, meh it's all right. But if other people read it and they feel sad, you've, you've magically transferred the sad from you.
to them um, and the next one, I think [00:28:00] I managed to transfer some joy as well, but it's a crime novel. That's mostly sad. So what are you going to do?
Brad Shreve: [00:28:06] Yeah, I've found if I'm writing and I make myself sad or make myself tense or make myself laugh. I know I'm on the right track.
Derek Farrell: [00:28:18] yeah, that's, that's very much so about a third, somewhere between a third and a half of the way through Death of an Angel, I remember going downstairs to David, my husband, I work upstairs, he's downstairs. I went downstairs. He's like, well, how are you doing? And I was like, it shit. And he said, Oh, they're all of your books are shit at this stage.
Is that you just have to keep going. And he said you had a really good day yesterday. And I was like, do you know, I had a good day yesterday. And he said exactly that he said, cause I can hear you laughing and I can hear the wheels on your chair. I've got a swivel chair. I can hear them rolling across the floor as you kick backwards and forwards giggling wherever you just put down.
And I'm like, it's true, right? When, when it's [00:29:00] good, it's the best job in the world. But when the doubts start to kick in, you just have to keep pushing through them.
Brad Shreve: [00:29:08] , something you said earlier really stuck out at me in that is you mentioned profanity, uh, either you or your publisher described this book, , or your, your series as cozy noir which is a strange combination. Explain that.
Derek Farrell: [00:29:28] Okay. Well, we had to debate whether it was cozy noir or nu-cozy with an N and a U. I like the new cozy, but he said that made it sound like new Jack Beat Swing. And that's that's way out of date. So we're not having that. cozy noir okay. The idea behind it is very much with noir novels. , the understanding that I've had having read hundreds of them in my lifetime, um, one definition is always, it's it's bad things happening to bad people, which is definitely not
this book, these books, there are decent [00:30:00] characters in them. Um, but the thing that I love, in noir novels of us is the snappy humor, um, is the almost gallows humor is the, you know, terrible things that happen. But if you read it a Dashiell Hammett or a Chandler, terrible things that happen, but there's always time for a. really sharp description. It might be, it might be funny or it might just be one of those things that makes it go. Oh yeah. That's a way of looking at it. I never thought of that before. Um, the cozy aspect is definitely there. So I was the first adult crime novel I read as a kid. was an Agatha Christie. So I love that cozy idea of you introduce your characters.
A crime happens sometimes it's not the crime that you'd be led to believe by the introduction. And then you investigate talking to all of your characters and then at the end, It's become a sort of a running joke in the books at the end of the book, you sort of gathered everybody together and you explain, this is [00:31:00] what happened.
And this is that the killer is, um, and that believe me when you've done four or five of those, how you actually writing one and making it even semi believable, that you would gather everybody together. The one that Death of an Angel I'm particularly proud of, because right, the way through it, I was like, I have no idea I'm going to actually do the denouement, this one, but it happened that it came to me in a dream.
So yeah. Then they're cozy. They're very much based on that golden age cozy structure noir aspect aspect is the use of language, uh, the use of dark humor, um, and the use of which is something I think that's very prevalent in, in particularly golden age noir, the use of the city itself as a character in the stories.
Um, and you get the, I mean, again, back to golden ages, if you read the Maltese Falcon, It's San Francisco. It doesn't, it doesn't draw your map of San Francisco. It doesn't tell you this neighborhood is up, is [00:32:00] uptown, but you get all of the things that you need to get to taste San Francisco. So it, it it's, uh, a character, even if you look at, um, the Brandstetter and novels, which were the, probably the first gay crime things I read, , you know, that's sort of Southern California.
Yeah. Again, that whole thing, the fact that it couldn't be happening anywhere else. The crimes in that, then, you know, the sort of the beach, the endless surf, the sort of half spaced out. Yeah. Blonde dudes wearing not a lot, but a pair of flip flops that all just screamed Southern California in the seventies.
So that for me was the aspect of noir that really I wanted to explore with these books is the whole idea of using a city as a character in itself.
And the one I've just delivered, um, which we comes at early in 2021. They don't know how early. Um, and that one, the whole thing is an English country house mystery.
So they actually go out of the city, they go to a country house, [00:33:00] um, and the crimes are absolutely, uh, Agatha Christie inspired, but, um, that's still noir because in that one, there are some terrible people and terrible things happen to terrible people. So I'm claiming to our via that way in that book.
Brad Shreve: [00:33:18] well, you brought up something that I actually find interesting is you were born and raised in Dublin. you currently live in West Sussex, which I don't believe there's a large city in there at all. Is there, but your stories are based in South London.
Derek Farrell: [00:33:35] And you went in a hat. Does that work? Okay. Um, so grew up in, I grew up in Dublin, , and I, and, and in Ireland we get three months, summer holiday every year. Um, my mom had a sister living in London, , and normally by the end of the second week in Dublin, I would be bored. I was growing up. It was the [00:34:00] seventies.
, I think other kids figured I was gay before even I figured I was gay, so I didn't have an awful lot of friends. I didn't have a wide circle. , I would be bored within a couple of weeks. So probably from about 78, 79, I was coming to London for three months, every summer. Um, and Dublin at the time was small, fairly parochial.
I wouldn't say backwater, but it was a small. city compared to London. So London was always this glamorous place that I was like, yeah. I w I want to be there. It's glamorous. And it's exciting and there's stuff going on. , so I moved, uh, so the week before I was 18, I had spent the last, the preceding year.
Yeah. Trying to get a job in Dublin, there was a terrible recession on, um, couldn't get a job, couldn't get a call back, couldn't get anything. , my cousin said it was going to be my 18th birthday. They had a present for me. Uh, the present was tickets to see Wham The Final, which is the last Wham concert ever performed.
So I came [00:35:00] over for a couple of weeks to see that. And by the end of the two weeks, I had three job offers. So, um, basically it was like, well, I'm not coming home. I'm going to stay here now. Um, and as a result, I lived in London from 1986 to about 2000. , I still work in London. Well, up until last year when we went into lockdown with COVID, I still work in London.
So I still go from here to London every day. Um, the bar that the Mark is based on, um, is a bar that I used to hang out with in back in the nineties. , so I know London, , I know all I know West London, North London, South London, , and I deliberately chose South London for those reasons. I said before, because in that neighborhood, you, you can stand there and look across the river at billions at the future, you know, and all of this wealth in all of this privilege, but equally you turn the opposite direction to two or three streets in, and you've got social housing with some depth, [00:36:00] with not the worst deprivation.
I don't want anybody who lives there to be saying you painted this out to be a disaster zone, but that. contradiction that conflict between one side of the river. And the other side of the river, I think was really interesting for me when I started it and I was lazy. The pub was there. So it made sense to leave it there rather than move it around.
I'm a terribly lazy writer you'll find.
Brad Shreve: [00:36:23] Regarding Ireland, I'm sure. You know, here in the States, marriage equality came about, it wasn't a vote. It was based on the Supreme court's interpretation of our constitution, which makes a little shaky because that could always change. What I found interesting is in Ireland, marriage equality became legal because of a popular vote.
Reason I bring it up is Ireland is known for being a very conservative country.
Derek Farrell: [00:36:54] and it was, yeah, it was when I grew up, it was a very conservative, very [00:37:00] Catholic. , you know, I, I wrote, I write lines that occurred to me in a book, , and a notebook. And I was like, okay, then when I'm going to use this one, but I was at, you know, you can't guilt me. I'm a Catholic,homosexual, that'd been guilted by professionals. and it was when I grew up, partly one of the reasons I wanted to move it wasn't particularly welcoming. And it was, you know, like people who had jobs still refer to them managers as Mr. Smith or Mr. Adams or whatever. Whereas in, in London, that hierarchy was sort of not so prevalent. However, Ireland.
Developed at pace. I mean, from part of me, if I'm being, if I'm being really self-conscious prior to me, as soon as they were just waiting for me to leave, so they could start to reform, , cause literally within a couple of years of me going out the door, uh, yeah, they, they, they really changed. So for example, because the British had, had, had been in Ireland for such a long time, [00:38:00] they had a lot of laws and statutes on the books and a lot of ex-Empire countries have this, a lot of the laws and statutes on the books were basically Victorian British laws that just never got repealed.
, and one of them was, um, around the criminality of homosexual homosexuality that had been reprise some years before, but an equal age of consent, for example, the Irish government equalize the age of consent several years before the British government did. , and, uh, the whole voting, I mean, you know, nobody wanted a vote on equal marriage, , both sides of, of the arguments.
And, you know, we don't want to vote of the, the, the pro equal marriage side said, and I agree with this entirely human rights are not something that you vote on because that's a human, right. You can't vote that people should be having it or not. The problem I had was the Irish constitution, which was written a couple of hundred years after the American ones, sort of learned a lesson [00:39:00] from the French post-imperial constitution and the American constitution, which were worded in a way that as you say, it's created industries of interpretation.
So the Irish one was very explicit and it said, marriage is X. And in order to prevent future governments coming in and changing Willy nilly aspects of, of the constitution, they said, These things can only be changed following a popular plebiscite. So you have to put it to a vote. So whether you wanted the vote or not, the only way that you could change the definition of marriage was by having a legal vote.
, and I'm getting emotional now, but yeah, I cried for the, I cried all day. I cried nearly two days. I just could not stop crying. , and again, I was working in a bank at the time and I'd been gone from Ireland for so long that it really didn't. I didn't have a say in, in the arguments. Um, but it [00:40:00] mattered.
It was it's, it's incredible how you think you've left. I don't want to say escaped because just to be clear, I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were very loving, very supportive. Uh, my brother was a really, you know, we, we got on like a house on fire. I had a great. Childhood there, but the school I went and the culture in general made it very clear that people like me were not wanted or respected.
, and so I moved on, I was fine. I'm living here. It's incredible. How none of them, well, something like that happens that you realize how much hurt you'd been carrying around. , and I was like, well, if this gets a big, no, if there was a sizable, no vote on this, then that's it. , everybody who ever bullied me or spat at me or told me what I was and how unwanted I was will have won again.
And it, it, so, yeah, it was, as I [00:41:00] saw young people fly. I mean, yeah, the national airline had flights. They had to add on extra flights because if you'd been. If you were a citizen, but you'd been out of the country for less than a year. I think you were entitled to go back and vote. and people were flying in from Australia, you know, like a 24 hour flight.
They were just coming back. They came back into their droves. There were lots of people working in London. Cause obviously it's one of the closest places that immigrants will go to. Um, and there were a train loads of people going back and Twitter and social media gets such a bad reputation justifiably sometimes.
But on this day, just seeing all the shared, they used the hashtag home to vote, which you can still say it on Twitter. I broke my heart. I sat at my desk all day, just sobbing and refreshing Twitter, how I wasn't fired, but I mean not type of work was done, but, um, yeah, it, it passed
so [00:42:00] I was very pleased
The best thing. So at that time, , my mom was, is very ill. I mean, she, she died not long after it. I think, I think the vote was in May. She died at the end of June. So she was in hospital and my dad was going up and down and up and down to see her. , and my dad was, had left, left home and he was like, right, I'm going to go and vote first.
And then I'm going to go visit the hospital. And as he's walking down the street, he felt something sort of clip his hip and he thought nothing of it carried on. And then at the corner of his eye, he sees this huge car, like a town car just mount the pavement opposite and slam into, uh, a lamppost, um, completely cave in the front fender.
And he realized that at that point, Oh, I've been hit by a car. The driver has lost control, hit me and then swept off. Now most normal people would say I've been hit by a car. I should probably wait for [00:43:00] the ambulance. He was like, I haven't got time for that. I've got to go and vote. So he, he just like went in and voted.
And I, I was on the phone to my mother when my dad arrived to which my mother said that, did you vote? Yes. Did you vote the right way? Of course I did. And she then said, did you do one for me as well? Which then led to my father and I having to explain what voter fraud is and you can't go in and do one for you, Mom.
You've got to do it yourself, but I'm not allowed to do I'm in hospital. Yes. But it it's fine. We'll be okay. But she was insistent that she wanted her vote to count. So the great thing is she got to see that. Um, and she got to see, uh, the first draft of the first book, but I didn't get the deal for the first book until two months after she passed.
Brad Shreve: [00:43:45] .
well, how wonderful she was to see it pass.
Derek Farrell: [00:43:49] yeah, she was at, , my, so my husband and I, we met in a club in 1990, so we're 32 years together, this July. , and, , as [00:44:00] soon as the UK government's introduced what was then called a civil partnerships, again, not quite marriage, but better than nothing. We had a civil partnership ceremony, which my, my mum and dad were at.
And I said, okay, I'm going to buy your outfit because it's traditional over here. You know, you buy your mother's outfit for. Th th th the day. So we went shopping and, uh, she, she was a petite woman. She put on a hat and she said the drowned under the hat. And she's looking at me as if, to say, well, what's the point of having a gay son if you can't help me figure out what I'm supposed to be wearing to this thing. So I said, well, why don't we try a fastenator it doesn't, it doesn't lock you down. It doesn't, it's not so big. So I got this fastenator it's I think it's great. It's like iridescent, blacks and blues. And it's got a peacock feather, and I put it on, she looks in the mirror and she looks at it and she looks at me and she looks at it, it looks back at me.
She looks at it and she goes, can I ask, is this a gay wedding or a gypsy funeral? [00:45:00] Yeah. It was like, okay, mom, you pick your own. I'll just sit over here and pay when it's done.
Brad Shreve: [00:45:06] well, I want to go back to Danny bird, cause I'm curious about something. We have four books that are out with a fifth one on the way. Do you know how many books you're going to have? Do you have an arc created for the series? And if, so, do you know how in your head, how it is going to end?
Derek Farrell: [00:45:25] um, so the answer is no, and that's partly because this wasn't a series. My publisher is going to kill me now because I don't think they know this, but, , I wrote Death of a Diva as a one-off. , and part of the process then was that for every single character in that book, I wrote like 10 page backstories.
Like w yeah, even there's a guy who has four lines. Um, and he's this enormous truck driver who comes in, dressed up as a Diana Ross one day. And then the next day he comes in dressed as Janet Jackson, 18, 14, but beat cap and all that stuff. , and he [00:46:00] had two lines in the book, but I had his entire backstory.
So when I, when I sell this to the publisher, they were like, Oh, this is really good. We want this it's a series. Yup. And I was like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah- it wasn't. I had no sequel, no idea. , but the great thing was because I had so many detailed character sketches, I was able to search and really got back into the world and think, okay, what's the next worst thing that could happen to Danny?
What's the next challenge that you can give them? Um, there's a lot of stuff I still want to write about. , and I would say the next, the one that's due to come out is a sort of a pivot point. Because, , we've taken some of the relationships as far as they could go in the direction. They were going to time to start figuring it.
yet to start bringing in, uh, some changes. This is, this is how you keep things fresh. It's how, it's how nobody should get worried. No, I'm not, I'm not killing anybody off. [00:47:00] but it's, it's, fun. I'm still enjoying writing these. The readers are still enjoying reading them. , I look at the series that I've loved.
I mean, I like, there's a guy called Lawrence Block who wrote a series with, uh, detective called Matt Scudder. And they, I haven't ended, you know, Lawrence Brock is in his eighties now and he's, he he says himself numerous times. He's not planning on doing any novels because they're too much to do. Um, but you just know if a great idea came to him, know he would come back to it.
And then you look at someone like Armistead Maupin with Tales of the City. He. came to a point, where is that right? Tells of the city has done. There is no more to be sad about it tells of the city everything I need. And then he came back and actually the new books looking at these characters all these years later, uh, in some ways, even better because they really said that they're challenging the preconceptions of the readers and the characters themselves.
So for me, I've, I've got [00:48:00] character acts. I've got a couple of books ahead on character arcs. , but I've not decided, okay, there'll be six books and then I'm done or there'll be 12 books, and then I'm done. I don't know. I mean, who wants to put a number there? There are some authors who are 20 or 30 books into a series.
And as long as they stay fresh keep going.
Brad Shreve: [00:48:19] well, I love that you mentioned Lawrence Block who is absolutely my favorite author and I'm amazed how many people never heard of him because he's outstanding.
Derek Farrell: [00:48:30] huge. He is. And, but again, funnily enough, I was obsessed with the Agatha Christie's and the Dashel Hammetts and so on. And I went to a course on crime writing. And the first night they got as an ice breaker, they did an exercise where we're in a hot air balloon, losing altitude. So we need to throw something overboard.
So each of you has your favorite crime author and you need to make your case why they need to stay in the balloon. [00:49:00] , and mine wasAgatha Christie and they threw her overboard first. And I was like, what are you Philistines? He can throw her... But somebody who I had just met that night made such a case for Lawrence Block, who I had never heard of that I went out that weekend and bought, , the first two.
I bought that Lawrence, sorry, Matt Scutter. And Bernie Rhodenbarr Bernie the burglar and the Bernie Rhodenbarrs are very influential on the Danny books because they are a really kind of homage to those classic golden age crime stories. There's always a denuement. He always made just to get them together again.
Um, they have a lot of humor going through them. They have a lot of pop culture references going through them. , and Caroline, who is Bernie, the burglar is a psychic. And I just, Oh my God. Yeah. So Caroline, who's a psychic is, , you know, sort of a lesbian, but it's irrelevant to the stories, honest, it, it [00:50:00] it's referenced in passing, but the stories aren't her.
Her character is not about that. It's just part of her character. , and as I finished the scrub, I realized that Danny psychic, you also called Carolina. And I realized Lawrence Block is probably on the founder, as Lori is right now, threatening me with, with all sorts of theft and, and plagiarism. But it was, I'm going to call it an homage and accidental homage, but they were definitely influential his, his stuff.
Um, and I met him, uh, Oh God, it must be nearly 20 years ago. Now in, in New York, they used to do this book fair down Fifth Avenue. And I used to spend a lot of time backwards and forth between London and New York. , and so I knew he was going to be at the book fair. So I dragged my husband and our friend was like, right.
We are going to walk the length of Fifth Avenue till we find him. Um, and my husband still laughs to this day. He's like, so we found like my husband would tell this story, but okay. So we found Lawrence Block and they're pointed at him like the man was sitting two feet away. There is [00:51:00] pointing at him. And saying you're Lawrence Block as, as though Lawrence Block might have Alzheimer's and not be sure who he is.
Apparently Lawrence Block is very, very kind, but I completely blank. The whole thing. I have no recollection. I was in such excitement and shock that I basically pointed out and said his name got him to sign something and then said, I love you and ran away, which was just fortification, but there you go.
Brad Shreve: [00:51:27] Yeah, I don't want to get too much into Block cause I want to talk about you, but what I really love about Block and something I hope to aspire to be able to do is the Bernie, the burglar series is light. There's a lot of humor in it. And then you turn around and he has the Matthew Scudder series, which is very dark and they're both incredibly successful.
He did them both really well. that's my aspiration.
Derek Farrell: [00:51:56] the thing I aspire to is the [00:52:00] humanity, because that's what his, that's why his books work is that he, the humanity, he genuinely cares about all the people and even, even the villains. And I tried to do this in, in mine as well. Even the villains have a story. There's, you know, there's a reason, you know, that you get to tell this in creative writing classes, no one thinks they're the villain.
Everyone thinks they're the hero of their own story, which is, which is nice, but trite. But the way that I've sort of turned that into something that works for me is exactly by realizing, well, what, what is it that drove them to what they're they're doing to this crime? And that's very much one of his things, as well as even the villains, you don't necessarily feel sorry for them, but you understand the background.
Brad Shreve: [00:52:48] well, we've reached the point in the show for awkward questions. authors get. And with this, I've interviewed dozens of authors to get questions that they've gotten that are either stranger difficult to [00:53:00] answer. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to spin the wheel and we're going to see what you get.
Derek Farrell: [00:53:06] Okay. And now I'm worried.
Brad Shreve: [00:53:11] Okay.
Do you like Asians?
Derek Farrell: [00:53:17] I love everybody. I love everybody equally and everybody loves me. That who asked that? An author was asked that question. That's a no, yes I do. I, I can't believe anybody would actually, that's such an American question. America's obsessed with race.
Brad Shreve: [00:53:38] Yeah, people didn't give me the reasons why they were asked that my guess and this is a total guess is they probably had not had Asian characters in their novels. That's the only thing I can come up with.
Derek Farrell: [00:53:51] I S I, I dread that because I, I actually realized in the first two books, I killed far more women than men, and I [00:54:00] thought, Oh, someone's going to accuse me of, yeah. It seems of the living out of some repressed fantasy or something. And so I think by the time I got to the third, I was keeping a tally, so I could get it right. .
So I could at least say, look, it's evening off its, its its kind of, but yeah. Yeah. People, people do tend to read things into it. I mean, I tried with these books. This was one of the things I wanted to do when I referenced earlier using London as a character, one of the brilliant things about London, the one of the reasons I wanted to live there and, and to sort of move away Ireland when I grew up was white and Catholic and very patriarchal.
Whereas in London, it's multicultural, it's narrow, you know, like everywhere there isn't a, I don't think there's, uh, a country on the planet that doesn't have some race issues. Um, there's a lot of historical stuff that needs to be addressed. , but it is multicultural. , it's open, it's vibrant. , and it's a [00:55:00] small city, so people do have to live cheek by jowl.
You know what I mean? You don't necessarily get the opportunity to have the Asians live over there and the, the Africa Caribbeans live over there, but we all basically. Intermingle. , and I love that. And I've tried to bring that into the book without in all of these books, you know, doing it gratuitously.
Yeah, absolutely. The answer to that, that, that question. If you then turned around and response to a question like that and said, no, no, I'm going to, I'm going to put one in the next book. I think that's even more offensive because it's, it's just shoehorning and it it'll be done in such a, an unresearched and unconsidered way that it, that will be justifiably more offensive than not having a particular group represented in the books. ,
Brad Shreve: [00:55:53] Yeah. I use a lot of diversity in my books, but that's because Los Angeles is very diverse, so it would be strange not [00:56:00] to, but I've never said, Oh, it's time for me to put somebody from this nationality in there. You know, it's just the natural part of the flow because of the city I live in.
Derek Farrell: [00:56:10] Well, the the third book.
Brad Shreve: [00:56:13] good. Go ahead.
Derek Farrell: [00:56:15] The third book death of a nobody, which is basically my take on Agatha Christie meat guy, Richie, because it's all about sort of faded gangsters who are sort of pension, Dells gangsters. Uh, one of whom did a runner years before with the results of a jewel robbery, except his body is then discovered in the basement of the pub.
So the question is, well, if he didn't take the takings who did, um, and in that one of the gangsters is a Chinese guy who was a notoriously vicious gangster, but by the time of the books that he's dead. , so you do have , his widow, um, who has. A or unique dress sense. She turns up to the funeral dress like a Victorian wife with a big stove, pipe, hat, and a violent, [00:57:00] it was someone said, I write monsters, but I make them human.
Um, and so I wanted to make this. Yeah, she's got all the money in the world, but absolutely no idea what to do with it because of course, most of it came from very questionable means. So she can't be seen to special about too much because the police will start sniffing around. So she buys ludicrous outfits that cost a fortune, but make her look like she's in fancy dress.
And that was my little tip of the hat. But again, that made sense because there was, uh, you know, the idea of a notorious gangster being Chinese in this country that we, you know, Chinese, you got gangsters from every race. So it wasn't me send a shoe horn again. It just came naturally in that case. But now the question will be, why are they only agents in your books, criminals?
Brad Shreve: [00:57:51] yeah.
Well to remind the lesson's listeners. This is Derek Farrell and he's the author of the Danny Bird mystery [00:58:00] series. His most recent book in this series is Death of an Angel. And as useful, I will have the links in the show notes. And remember if you read Death of an Angel, which she should, don't skip to the end and read the last two words, start from the beginning.
Derek Farrell: [00:58:17] Yeah, you'll enjoy it more if you read it consecutively.
Brad Shreve: [00:58:20] , thank you, Derek has been a pleasure to have you on.
Derek Farrell: [00:58:23] It's been an absolute blast brass Brad. Thank you so much. I nearly got away with that slipping over my tongue once, but thanks, Brad. That's been wonderful. Thank you.