Good morning to you all, unless it’s evening in which case good evening to you all, unless it’s night-time in which case a good night to you all.
No, wait, I didn’t mean good night as in goodnight, good night. Put that Horlicks away and take those pyjamas off right now!
Ewww, no, on second thoughts, put those pyjamas back on again, tooty sweety. No-one needs to see that no matter what time of day it may be where you are. Although you can take them off ag…. no! Best not… *whispers* call me!
Okay, let’s start this again shall we?
Hellooooooo and welcome to The Beardy Book Blogger. If this is your first time here I welcome you with a warm beard and an even warmer heart. Please feel free to look around and see stuff; mi blog es su blog 😃 If you have been here before then I am very grateful that you have returned. I wasn’t too sure that you would, if I’m honest. Haha, one can never be too sure about these things now, can one!
So, what delights do I have for you today, I hear you ask? Well, firstly, thank you for asking and, secondly, let me enlighten you.
Today marks the 15th day of the month long Fahrenheit Press/Fahrenheit 13 love fest that is #Fahrenbruary. If you are unaware of what that is all about, please feel free to take a small but enlightening detour to this link here, but do come back…
You’re back? Hurrah and so forth and so fifth.
Where were we? Oh yes, why are you here? Well, today I present to you a magnificent Q&A with one of my very favourite authors Derek Farrell.
Derek is the creator and author of the Danny Bird Mysteries series of books (Death Of A Diva/Nobody/Devil and the soon to be released Death Of An Angel), published by Fahrenheit Press.
You can find my reviews of the first 3 books below:
Derek also wrote a brilliant Guest Post for me for Day 14 of #Fahrenbruary and you can find that here:
Intrigued? Well, I should bally well hope so too. So, patient reader, read on and discover what inspired Derek to create Danny Bird, what his favourite biscuit or cake are, and what type of sheets he has on his bed.
Enjoy. TBBB X
TBBB: Firstly may I welcome you to my little blog and thank you most warmly for taking the time to answer my questions.
Let’s get started: how did you come up with your idea for Danny Bird?
DF: Danny came out of an exercise at a writing course. The idea was to create an everyman character – someone really unexceptional in every way – and to then put them into crisis, the idea being to show that the interesting aspects of a character only come when you put them through hell. And if you’ve read Death of a Diva, you’ll be able to tell me how well I put him through it.I wrote the character, wrote what would eventually be Chapter two of “Death of a Diva,” turned the page of my notebook, and thought nothing more of it. But then for weeks later, people who’d heard me read the piece aloud kept asking “What happens next?” And saying things like “I’d go to the pub with him; he seems like a really fun person.” And so I had to write him. Danny, basically, came about by popular demand.
TBBB: Is he, or any of the crew, based on anyone you know?
DF: The American writer Nora Ephron has a great quote: “Everything is Copy.” I live by it. Every happy, sad, joyous, heartbreaking moment gets filed away and used – sometimes tangentially, sometimes without me even knowing I’m writing about the event or the person I’m writing about – in the future. All fiction is basically autobiography, and everyone in the book is thus (despite the lawyers insistence otherwise) inspired by – if not based on – a real person I have met. Which is quite unsettling when you realise that one of my earlier Amazon reviews said something like “Farrell creates a gallery of Grotesques,” but less so when you remember I spent a large part of my life as an investment banker and thus a fair number of sociopaths, maniacs, and monsters have crossed my path over the years.
TBBB: If you could be any character from your books who would it be and why?
DF: That’s a really good question, and I think the answer changes from day to day. Right now, it’s Danny: He’s a smarter, funnier, younger, fitter version of me. But in Death of an Angel, things are about to get darker, so knowing what’s coming his way, I’m not sure I’d want to be him. I could be Caz: Willowy tall, gorgeous, occasionally very wealthy, and unflappable because he’s possessed of the ability to not really give a shit what people think of her. But there again, there’s a dark backstory to Caz (hinted at in the chapel scene in “Death of a Devil”) and I’m not sure I’d have wanted to live through her life to get where she’s gotten to. I think I’m probably already basically Nick – Sensible, perma-worried, smart, loyal, and trying to do the best in an impossible world. Of course, Nick is cuter and younger and fitter than me, but y’know… But today is going to be a very busy day so I would I’d probably go for Ali: Able to pull a pint, keep an eye on the til, wrangle the staff, not give a monkeys about anyone’s opinion, kick a trouble maker out of the pub and still make it home in time to get dinner on the table.
TBBB: One of your previous jobs was as a ‘burger dresser’. Now, I’m guessing that this didn’t involve putting little clothes on them and making them look presentable for photo shoots, premieres, the theatre, etc (or did it?)? Did any of that experience affect your writing? How much of your writing is based on your real life experiences?
DF: All of it. And none of it. See above re the Nora Ephron quote.
The burger dressing was a summer job at a well known Golden arch chain and involved putting onions lettuce special sauce and pickles on the buns. They wouldn’t let me near the grill cos that was a job I had to work up to, and they threatened to fire me when they found me putting extra pickles on the cheeseburgers (cos who doesn’t love an extra pickle on their cheeseburger?). I’ve never worked in a pub. I’ve never worked on – or been fired from – a magazine. I’ve never lived in South London (though I spent lots of time at a mates flat off the Old Kent Road) and I’ve never found a dead body (let alone as many as Danny has). But I have known several people like Robert (known commonly in the books as Robert-The-Bastard) and I have had my heart broken once or twice, and I do know that wonderful feeling when you are part of something – a family, a team, a gang against the world – and that sense memory, if you like, feeds directly into the books.
I guess what I’m getting at is that “What happens” is fiction, but “How it feels” is almost entirely based on my real life experiences.
TBBB: What do Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13 mean to you?
DF: Everything. Writing is a pretty lonely activity: You sit in a room on your own and talk to people in your head. They can begin to feel like real friends, only they’re not. And publishing – finding people who love your book as much as you do – is an even lonelier prospect, so I consider I got really lucky when FP read “Diva,” loved it and wanted to publish it. From the get-go, they’ve been open with me about the market we were in, and about the direction they wanted to market the book. Through them I’ve met some great writers, and I’ve made great friends.They’ve given me time to get the books right, and they have championed Danny and the gang more than I could have dared hope for. I genuinely couldn’t wish for a better nicer or more dedicated publisher. Plus their T-Shirts fucking ROCK.
TBBB: How important is it to you to be published by an indie press?
DF: I wanted to be published. It’s what I dreamed of. But I now suspect Danny – with a Big 5 house – would have struggled to get past “Diva.” It might have been picked up, and it might have got as far as being published, but the slow burn success of that first book isn’t really the Trad publishing model, so getting to become a part of the Fahrenheit family was huge for me. It meant they were willing and able to take a little longer to get things right. It meant when something like the cover didn’t gel, they were able to move quickly to change things and not just abandon the book. It meant I felt more like a family member (perhaps the older cousin who still parties way more than he should at his age) than an employee, and that’s very important to me.
TBBB: What does your writing day involve? Do you have any routines or writing superstitions? Those things that you just have to do?
DF: Get up super early. Make coffee. Make aaaaalll the coffee.
Sit in the house and listen to the silence.
Look out the window at the empty street, at the world still asleep.
Open word document.
Read what you wrote yesterday.
Realise you have drunk all the coffee.
Go downstairs and make another huge pot of coffee.
Go back to your desk and listen to the silence.
Repeat until you hear your husband beginning to wake up.
Panic, and write ten lines.
Reread them and delete six.
Repeat til you have a book done.
TBBB: Are you a plotter or a pantser? In fact, what are your favourite kind of pants?
DF: Plotter through and through. I can’t start before I know the destination. Now don’t get me wrong: I may well take a few detours en route and go off to see some lovely sights that I didn’t plan on seeing when I set off, but I need a map and a clear destination, else I’ll end up rambling miles out of the way and losing my- wait: what was I saying? 😜 And as for pants, I prefer knickerbockers in untreated calico. They fit very comfortably under my jodhpurs.
TBBB: In light of the above question, do you plan ahead several novels in advance or book by book? Do you have an overall arc planned for Danny, Nick, Caz et al? Or do you find that they write themselves in that respect and you are as surprised as they are when shit happens to them?
DF: So what happened was this: When I wrote Diva I had detailed – and I mean minutely detailed – backstories for every single character in the book. By the time I’d finished what I thought would be a standalone novel it was very clear that the backstories and the future story arcs they suggested made a series possible. Which means yes, I do plan quite a bit ahead. I have a Caz story line that I wanted to do for book 2, but it would have been too early in the series and now I’m thinking I may hold off for a bit longer. There are a couple of other storylines dotted through the first three books (and the forthcoming fourth one) that will allow me to trigger other events in later books that I’m keen to do. It’s all very exciting because one of the things I love with a series is those little backstories that suddenly take centre stage and generate a whole book. But having said that, they will still do stuff that makes even me go WHOA! Ray and Dash and their prospective relationships (or budding relationships) with absolutely not the sort of women you think they’d end up falling for is a perfect example of where I was basically writing the scenes before I went “Well how did we get here?” And that, too, is how you know that writing fiction is to some extent alchemy.
TBBB: Do you plan to write a book outside of the Danny Bird books? If so, what would it be likely to involve?
DF: I’m currently working on two books that are outside of the Danny world, but that’s all I can say right now.
TBBB: I really love the Danny book covers (even if they appear to me to suggest the books are set in the 30/40s for some reason). How important is a good cover to you?
DF: Yes, I worried about that Deco look to the cover as well. But Fahrenheit argued quite persuasively that the books are the closest thing on their list to Golden Age crime novels, and I love the comparison so much and the covers so very much that I’m both proud and honoured to get such beautiful covers for what I did, after all, originally pitch as “Contemporary twists on the classic Golden Age crime novels.” How important is a good cover? It’s everything, to be honest. People definitely DO judge a book by it’s cover, and getting it right – getting something that attracts as a thumbprint on an Amazon (or FP Website) page and also looks like a thing of beauty when printed to paperback size and sitting on a shelf – is a skill I’m in awe of.
TBBB: Which do you prefer: eBook or physical book? What do you think are the pros and cons of each?
DF: I was raised with Physical so I recognise an emotional attachment to the medium. However – and I can not stress this enough – books are just stories we get to carry around with us. The technology went from storytellers round a fire to Gutenberg and books to Dickens and Newspaper serialisations to weekly TV Shows and so the arrival of Ebooks, audiobooks, comic strips, graphic novels, Apps, all are good for me. I was a story-teller, really, before I became a writer, so the story is what matters most to me, and whatever way people want to consume the story is fine by me too.
TBBB: Tea or coffee? If tea, milk first or last, if at all?
DF: My family will kill me for this cos their Tea consumption is legendary, but I’m a coffee man. Aaaaaall the coffee. I currently have two coffee machines in my kitchen: a Nespresso for fancy coffees and a hotplate with a timer to make what I pour into my thermos for the daily commute. And I like it with a decent splash of milk so it goes towards military Khaki colour.
TBBB: Favourite biscuit? Or are you a cake person?
DF: Cake. Lemon drizzle cake. Or an orange Polenta cake (Bougie, innit).
TBBB: What’s your favourite shade of white?
DF: Farrow and Ball have one called “Corpse.” I want to do my study in it.
TBBB: Have you any pets?
DF: No, but I am adopted regularly by next door’s cat who is my guardian angel and never fails to raise my spirits when I’m feeling at my shittest. Also I have a doggy niece who is a Staffie-Labrador mix and who makes my heart fill with joy every time I see her.
TBBB: Silk or cotton bed sheets?
Cotton. I’m Bougie, but not *that* big a tart.
TBBB: Bath or shower? If bath: bubble bath or bath bomb?
DF: Shower. I’ve got writing to be getting on with and faffing about like Cleo-bloody-patra aint gonna get them books done, you know.
TBBB: What was your favourite toy as a child? Or even now?
DF: My favourite toy now is my iPad. I write books on it; I tweet; I watch my TV Shows; I can keep in touch with the world. As a kid, it was toy cars. ANY Cars – I had all the James Bond Corgi replicas and a bunch of cars from various TV shows, but I remember being especially fond of a die cast lime green Citroen 2CV. Still want a real one of them. Maybe when the movie deal goes through…
TBBB: My favourite tv show as a kid was the Six Million Dollar Man. I used to spend a lot of time pretending to be Lee Majors/Steve Austin and wishing I was actually bionic. What was your favourite tv show growing up? Did you have any heroes you emulated or wanted to be?
DF: My favourite TV shows as a kid: Doctor Who. One called “Into The Labyrinth.” I also loved a show called “The Feathered Serpent,” which had Patrick Troughton (late of Dr Who fame) dragged up as a deranged Aztec High Priest with lots of gilded loincloths and fistfuls of kohl round his eyes. It wasn’t camp at all… But my favourite as a teenager was Charlie’s Angels. And I wanted to be adopted by Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith on whom I had a bit of a crush).
TBBB: Ooooh, speaking of childhood crushes, mine were Lindsay Wagner aka Jaime Sommers, The Bionic Woman and Lee Majors aka Steve Austin. I was a greedy child 😆
TBBB: As you know, this is the Beardy Book Blogger, so, if you were to grow a beard, what style and colour would it be?
DF: It would be close-cut to accentuate my chiselled jawline and dark enough to make my cerulean blue eyes pop, though the patches of salt and pepper in it would suggest a degree of worldliness and a secret sorrow that would be irresistible to some However, as my eyes are sort of grey, my jaw is jowly and my sorrows – thanks to an unbreakable Twitter habit – are far from secret, only the grey bits are actually deliverable, so I’ll stay (mostly) clean shaven for now.
TBBB: Oh I don’t know, Derek. I think you look rather dapper in these photos form last Movember wot I robbed from your Twitter profile 😂
TBBB: If you could have any superpower what would it be and how would you use it? Would you be a superhero or a supervillain? What would be your superhero/villain name?
DF: Already am a super hero. And my name is The Author. I make people who don’t really exist come alive. Don’t really need much more than that, really. All that flying / bending steel with bare hands / saving the planet just sounds sooooo freaking exhausting, to be honest, when telling stories is so much more fun.
My sincerest and most huggliest thanks to Derek for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can buy Derek’s books DIRECT from Fahrenheit Press at these wonderful links below: