About Derek

Derek Farrell has, since childhood, told stories.

Of course, back then they were called lies, and usually got him in to trouble, but nowadays his stories, humorous poetry and song lyrics are entertaining people from Kansas to Crawley.

Derek grew up in a small terrace close to the Guinness brewery in Dublin’s Liberties neighbourhood, where the smell of roasting hops alternated with the yeasty fermentation of the mash, and the cry of the seagulls was interrupted occasionally by the snorting of an escaped cow on the rampage from the abattoir at the bottom of the street.

To date, Derek has completed three novels. His latest novel is a contemporary Cosy-Noir mystery story called Death of a Diva. The book features his wonderfully human detective Danny Bird, and it’s been described as “Like The Thin Man meets Will & Grace via Ab Fab. In Bermondsey.”

Derek’s literary heroes include Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Lawrence Block, Joe Keenan, Steven Saylor, Scott Fitzgerald, Jonathan Harvey, Doctor Seuss and anyone who actually drags their arse to the desk and writes, Goddammit!

His jobs have included: Burger dresser, Bank teller, David Bowie's paperboy, and eventually Investment Banker on the 80th floor of the World Trade Centre. Time in high finance, has given him an opportunity to observe people, to understand the persuasive power of language and to develop an insight into the workings of the criminal mind, whilst allowing him to live and work in Hong Kong, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Prague and London.
And all the time, he’s been telling stories.

You should get to know him.

Twitter: @derekifarrell

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

Dead is Good by Jo Perry – review

Derek
September 3, 2017

Dead is Good

Jo Perry

Fahrenheit Press

9/July/2017

In most fiction, the death of the protagonist would be the end of the story, but in Jo Perry’s Charlie & Rose series (previously ‘Dead is Better’ & ‘Dead is Best’) it’s the starting point for a series of books which use our dead and at times impotent everyman and his sole companion – a deeply affecting red setter, the victim (in life) or torture and starvation, and who now acts as a sounding board and a moral compass for Charlie who still, at times, faces situations where there are no good solutions and all is shades of grey.

 

And in this respect, this particular book excels: Where most people writing crime fiction with a ghost and a dog would likely slide towards the cosy, Perry does almost exactly the opposite. Charlie, in each successive book, is becoming both more self-aware, and more aware of the inequities and evils of the world. And yet he’s dead, can communicate only with Rose and – briefly – with any other whose passing over he witnesses, and is forced, therefore, to remain, as in life, and despite the fact that he now aches to actually act, as a bystander, watching the unfolding events and trying, in some way, to impact them.

 

Which could make for very dull reading in lesser hands. But Perry’s are not lesser hands. Having written both for TV and Poetry, what we have here is a book which feels like a meditation on mortality, on – as two characters are named – Hope and Grace, and on Love. In fact the first two mysteries here – why does an idealistic lawyer arrange her own execution by the LAPD and who is now out to silence her artist sister – become, whilst entertaining and challenging, secondary to the main mystery within the book: Can Love survive Death?

 

And the Television writing results in a book which has echoes of David Simons’ ‘The Wire,’ if it was set in LA and looked at undocumented immigrants, sweatshop workers, drug couriers, and the chain that goes up to Angelean businessmen with million dollar mansions, kids who get tens of thousands of dollars spent on birthday parties, and wives who remain – one senses, deliberately – ignorant of the source of the family wealth.

 

It’s this – this cinematic view of the landscape – that transports this and the other Charlie & Rose books above the norm and makes them – for me – genuinely emotional. One scene in particular, when the spirits of the dead – unseen by the living – descend on Father Serra Park on the Dia de Los Muertos – was so affecting that it had me in tears.

 

This isn’t for everyone. And that’s fine: who wants a world where there’s only one sort of book? But it is definitely for anyone who wants a book that moves you, asks you to consider difficult questions and is unafraid to admit that in life – as in death – sometimes things aren’t neat, the ends aren’t all nicely tied up; but the essence – the spirit of good people trying to do good – never dies.

 

Highly recommended.

Strike A Pose

Derek
August 26, 2017

I watched Strike a Pose – which is available on Netflix now – twice this week, and cried both times.

I found it both heartbreaking AND inspiring, the sadness coming from the idea of people not quite reaching their potential, from the death, and the blight and fear and stigma that HIV placed on my whole generation (Salim is 6 months older than me).
But then, on the other side: They LIVED! They had that moment. And most of them have lives of quiet normalcy, but with Love and Satisfaction and struggles.
There’s a lot to be said for reality and a normal life.
I forget it sometimes – I think we all do, in this world that’s obsessed with progression and with chasing goals and dreams.
Sometimes the dream is right under your nose – a boyfriend or a husband you can sit with, watch the TV with. A job that pays the bills and allows you time to do the things that make you happy.
All that glamour – like all that glisters – is not, necessarily, Gold.
I suspect Madonna – for all her money – knows that.
I just hope the boys who made it through know it too.

Highly recommended

Death of a Devil – Week One

Derek
August 20, 2017

Well hey there.

It’s been a while. What have you been up to?

Me? Oh, I wrote a book. Another book.

I think – save for a post celebrating Danny’s first birthday –  I last posted here when I was in South Africa last October. That was the week I started work on Death of a Devil – the third Danny Bird Mystery.

And this week, it was published – as are all the Danny Mysteries – by Fahrenheit Press.

I meant to keep blogging through the writing process, but this was a pretty intense book to write, to be honest.

It came out of a pretty bleak time for me – the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing; Brexit; the rise of the man who is currently President of the USA – and I really found it hard to figure out what to write about, and where to find the jokes and snappy dialogue the Danny Bird Mysteries are all about.

But I found it, and once I had it like fireflies in a jar, I wanted to keep focussed, keep the lid on, not talk about it too much in case the magic evaporated.

And I think it worked out well.

This one’s about gangsters, long-forgotten crimes, strong women, secrets (so many secrets) and – as they all are – ultimately about the tribes we make, and the community we arrange around ourselves.

If Death of a Diva and Death of a Nobody were my British mysteries, I think this one is a little more American. I’m not going to explain that statement, but let me know what you think when you’ve read it.

And I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a book.

Out of a pretty grim time has come something beautiful. And something – as the picture above shows – which looks beautiful too.

If you wanted to buy it – in ebook or paperback – you can get it here (in the UK) or here (everywhere else).

I woke at 4am last Monday – the day that Death of a Devil was released – with a knot of fear in my stomach. What if it was crap? What if people hated it? What if I’d let down all the people who’d put their faith in me – who’d loved Death of a Diva and Death of a Nobody? I guess all writers have those moments of pure self doubt.

I needn’t have worried.

Death of a Devil has already been very favourably reviewed by Verity Wilde,  who made it her coveted Book of the Week, and said “Lady Caz is … posher and drunker than ever in this instalment and the subplot with her family is excellent too,” and noted that Death of a Devil has a “sly and subversive world view… It’s fun and funny and won’t leave you terrified to go out of an evening.”

The book already has a five star review on Amazon, and readers have very kindly taken the time to pop on to my Facebook page and let me know how much they’re enjoying it.

Verity interviewed me the week before publication and asked a great question: Who would play the characters in Death of a Devil in a TV or Movie Version? I’d LOVE to hear who you think should. Drop a note in the comments below.

And the good news is that Danny4 is almost fully plotted and Danny5 has begun to form, and Fahrenheit Press seem pleased with the sketches they’ve had so far.

I have a top secret project to finish off in the next few weeks and then it will be straight in to Danny4.

Only this time – I promise – I shall keep you posted on the progress here.

But for now: Go buy the Danny Bird Mysteries.

Not The Booker Prize Long Long Longlist

Derek
August 1, 2017
I’m on a Good List

 

OK, this is huge news (for me).
I’m on the Long long (long) list for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, and it’s the first time I’ve ever been on a good list, as opposed to one of those “People we’ll round up when our day comes” ones.
I am genuinely excited. Whodathunk a few years ago my name would be in the Guardian and not prefaced by “The accused,” “The victim,” or preceded by the words “The man whose credit card debt accidentally bankrupted Britain.” Success, I’d say.
Thank you with all my heart to all the people who got me this far. But now I have a favour to ask: I want to go the next step.
It’s a bit trickier, this one: You need to go to the Guardian website (the link is below) and leave a review of both my book and one other. Not huge reviews
• The exact rules are that you have to do is cast your vote in the comments section on their website.
• You need to choose two books from the longlist, from two different publishers, and accompany those choices with a short review of at least one of your chosen books.
• It would also be very helpful if you could include the word “vote”.
• The review should be something above 100 words long – a couple of short paragraphs on why you love Danny & Caz and think this book deserves to win a prize.
And if you could post the reviews on Amazon too, that would be even better.
But whether you vote and review or not, thank you – from the bottom of my heart – for getting me this far.

The link is here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2017/jul/31/not-the-booker-prize-2017-please-vote-on-the-long-long-longlist

 

Christmas is Heaven

Derek
December 3, 2016

 

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Christmas is my favourite holiday; a way to banish the darkness, celebrate the sheer excess of life, and remember – with tears and smiles – the times and people past.

Our house fills with memories and memorials at this time of year, and with the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg as we sprinkle spice on the final demands before blowtorching them.

It also fills with love and a little sadness as we realise we cant have everyone we love here in one go. Maybe that’s heaven – if it exists: a perpetual week before christmas filled with everyone you love.

YEAR ONE

Derek
November 16, 2016

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2015 was the worst year of my entire life.

I’ve talked, before, about losing my mother. Her absence – approaching and actual – filled my life.

I tried to mask the approaching nightmare by doing things – by keeping busy at work, by burying my head in the sand, by drinking and partying and being almost constantly outraged at everything other than the one looming outrage that deserved my fury, and by slowly, and almost unavoidably, falling apart emotionally and mentally.

“This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you,” my husband said to me one day as I sat, sucked up into myself as though to contain the howls in my head, “But it’s not the only think that’s currently happening to you. There is so much good happening to you. There is so much life to be lived.”

He meant well, but at the time, it was hard to appreciate his words.

And yet – partly to shut him up and allow me to be left alone with my rage and my red wine – I allowed myself to go through the motions of doing things, of living a normal life – I’d do my day job, I’d write, send my books out, wait for the inevitable rejections.

And then something miraculous happened.

Continue reading YEAR ONE

Thursday Sonnet

Derek
October 6, 2016

Thoughts on the British Situation by a visitor to South Africa

“We’re all in this together til we’re not,”
Said Tessie as she stood before a crowd
And said “Of Auslanders we’ll soon be shot”
“Huzzah!” “Hooray” They cried as one aloud,
As “Them and Us” became a policy
Which – superficially – might well make sense.
Til one day “Them” includes the likes of “Me”
And History becomes the Present Tense.
I can not and I will not simply leave
The place that has become my final home
And though my prayer tonight to some’s naieve
I hope “We” can, together, one day come.
The land I’m in was once destroyed by hate
I wish we’d stop before it is too late.

My books are available to purchase, and they celebrate diversity with mystery, comedy, romance, and the occasional murder:

Hyperurl.co/Diva

Hyperurl.co/Nobody

Rewrites

Derek
July 2, 2016

Rachel Stirling asked me to share my thoughts around Rewrites.

She was charming and so lovely to write for (though I did no rewrites)

Click below to find out what I had to say…

Rewrites

Saturday Sonnet #9

Derek
June 4, 2016

‘landscape’

No-one ever really sees the lonely;
They hang around in angry gangs of one
And look at passers-by aloof and ston’ly;
A cabal of the lost and the undone.
I’ve been there and return there sometimes still,
Though I’m surrounded by a world of love.
Inside, a darkness battles with my will
To let the sunshine in, and float above
The sadness that is half my nature: Though
I will no longer hold it as a friend
I can not stop it coming to my door,
But know each time the visit will soon end
A landscape made of peaks and troughs is fine
The valley’s are endured, the hilltops mine.

“Death of a Nobody,” The 2nd Danny Bird Mystery is available now.

In the UK, you can buy it here. Everywhere else, you can buy it here.

“Death of a Diva” – The 1st Danny Bird Mystery – can be purchased here

Saturday Sonnet #8

Derek
May 28, 2016

process

 

‘process’

I sit before a screen devoid of words
and wait for something smart to come along.
Ideas, skittish as a flock of birds,
are steadfastly withholding their sweet song.
This moment – now – the doubt begins to speak
Of how the things you write are value-free
Of plots that fail, of characters too weak
To make a mark that anyone can see.
And yet I type and worlds begin to come
From out of nowhere down on to the screen;
Their parts, sometimes, far greater than their sum
Their movements leaving nothing where they’ve been
If writings all that matters here tonight
What matters is the simple fact you write.

“Death of a Nobody,” The 2nd Danny Bird Mystery is available now.

In the UK, you can buy it here. Everywhere else, you can buy it here.

“Death of a Diva” – The 1st Danny Bird Mystery – can be purchased here