Tag Archives: writing

Saturday Sonnet #8

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

Saturday Sonnet #6

'taste'

‘taste’

“You can’t do Jeffrey Dahmer” says the voice

Inside my head that censors what I say

“A gag about a cannibal?” “My choice”

I counter then begin to tap away.

Til inspiration blinds me as It glints

Into a scene in Woody Allen’s head

That features several Mini-Pops With squints

Immobilised while gaffer-taped to bed

And still the voices say to even speak

Of what your psyche kicks out is a crime

That Princess Margaret face down in the beak

Is – poss – a tale to tell some other time…

You throw away the words you’ve written: Waste!

A shame that we’re all slaves, these days, to “taste”.

Featured Author

image

So, I was the featured author on Charlie Cochrane‘s blogs this week.

The first time – apart from a Fahrenheit chat when Death of a DIva was released – that I’ve been interviewed.

Typically, I agonised over the answers – do I want to appear pure comedy and silliness and risk not being taken seriously, or do I come across like a high brow Salman Rushdie and talk endlessly about my craft in tones that suggest I’d be happier doing the grouting, but that writing is a vocation for me, like, y’know, working with lepers is for other people..?

In the end, I went with “Just tell the fucking story, Derek, and stop over thinking,” which – I think – worked well.

I want to thank Charlie for being such a lovely person, and for questions that made me go “Oooh, I don’t have  a glib answer ready for that.” I’m looking forward to reading some of her mysteries now.

The interview is here, if you’d like to read it, and you can buy Death of a Diva (a 5* book worth every penny of your money) here, if you haven’t already.

 

Guest author – Derek Farrell

Saturday Sonnet #1

“There’s something wrong with Sandra,” said her mum

As Sandy Sat and hugged a Prada Bag

“She’s quiet nowadays; morose and glum

And has a tendency to lose her rag.

Since Yves, that French boy, left, she’s been this way

Cos she’s a Francophile and he was Male

But like I told her: ‘All French men are gay,

Or short and bald’; but that’s another tale.

Well, since this boy was really rather tall

And had a head of dark and wavy hair

It stood to reason he was gonna fall

For Pete and his 900 meter stare.

A man bag? Check. And cheeks made up rosy?

We’re talking more La Cage less Sarkozy.”

My book Death of a Diva is out now from Fahrenheit Publishing.

To buy it, click here.

Autumn Salsa

Just out of shot: Minced Herbs and Kander & Ebbs "The Visit OCR"
Just out of shot: Minced Herbs and Kander & Ebbs “The Visit OCR”

Some debate, recently, around when Autumn starts: Is it immediately after the end of August, or does the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness kick in the September Equinox (23rd, this year)?

For me, it feels like it started this week. It’s been the saddest summers ever for me, and my life has been changed by it. But it ended with news of an opportunity I’ve been waiting my whole life for. A publisher who not only wants – but loves- my book.

So I’m sort of shell shocked at the moment, but the moment I stepped outside on Tuesday morning to damp chill, the scent of decay hanging in the air, and a thin drizzle that could – if one were of a poetic mind – be imagined as mist hanging in the air, it’s been autumn.

But the summer – as far as the contents of my kitchen is concerned – isn’t over yet. So, to celebrate what’s left of the sunshine season, and welcome the coming time of cinnamon and nutmeg, of pumpkins (even here, on the other side of the Atlantic), and of baking slow roasting, and crisp red leaves underfoot I made Autumn Salsa.

“What’s it made of?” my Friend C asked.
“Stuff.”

I called it Autumn Salsa cos so much of what you’d normally put in a salsa is a bit ‘off’ now. But there are a lot of cherry tomatoes that still have a heck of a sweet and sharp punch around.

Continue reading Autumn Salsa

Why I Write

derek_farrell_why

I come from a story telling people.

The Irish – the Celts – didn’t retain their personalities, their cultures, for as long as they did by simply painting themselves blue and waving their arses at invaders*. They did it by telling stories; by turning the everyday into the magical; by transforming victory into ecstasy and failure into an almost-victory.

They did it by rewriting the everyday into, as Joyce** might have put it, somethingmorethanwasreallythere***.

 

I come from a story telling family.

The first time my Very English Boyfriend met my Very Catholic Irish Family he got stories. Some of the stories were told to stave off the silence; to swerve the discomfort. Some were told to make us laugh – because laughter is when my family is at its best. Some stories were there to normalise the situation or to explain who we were, where we were, why we were; but they were all stories.

Because I come from a story telling family.

My father reads voraciously, and with a deliberate lack of snobbery. He’s read  Dumas countless times,  loves Dickens, and worked his way through many of the classics, but he’s also, often, asked for Jackie Collins in his Christmas stocking (the novels of, not the racy author herself) and he’s at his happiest with Golden Age British crime writers like Gerald Vernon Edgar Wallace, or Agatha Christie.

My mother – when I was growing up – didn’t read much. But she told stories. More than that; she lived stories. Going to the Grocers with her; watching her challenge the Butcher as to why the Mince yesterday was less than ideal; making the Christmas cake; learning a dance routine to “Me & My Shadow”. They were stories filled with excitement, danger, camaraderie, and the basic cliff hanging suspense that all good stories contain.

You listened to these stories and wondered whether the Butcher had slipped her an extra kidney by way of recompense, or been gifted with a raised nose and banishment to the B-List of purveyors for his cheapness.

And she did all of this with a sense of humour that was wicked, surreal, cynical and brilliant.

Whilst I may have acquired my love of books from my father, I learned my love of what-happens-next stories from my mother.

And my baby brother, while I stayed indoors reading books, and dreaming of being smart enough to be able to tell stories that people would want to listen to, went out into the world, met people, talked to them, came home, and talked to us about his life his friends and his understanding of the world.

Because I come from a story telling family.

So my Very English Boyfriend met my Very Catholic Irish Family, and waited for the silence, the staring, the muttered recriminations and the anger.

Instead, he got his worst nightmare.

He got stories that wove out, into, and over each other; that faded into a mist, stopped abruptly, vanished and were replaced by reminiscences of the time a bullock ran up our city street, then digressed to “The State of Sandra Bullock,” before passing on to the fact that the escaped cow happened the summer that my brother and I had been using discarded fluorescent lighting tubes as Light Sabres (don’t try this, kids; no, really, don’t…) and blended into an observation that I’d always been the family story teller, which left him stunned and close to terrified.

This – his state of overwhelm at the tidal wave of stories coming his way – left me bemused. Because, as I may have mentioned before…

I come from a family that have never – as long as I have known them – done anything other than tell stories.

Because all stories are about love (or its absence). And the people I choose to talk to, to sit with, all have something in common.

Can you guess what it is?

Love. 

I come from a culture and a family that – I am both wonderfully lucky and proud to admit – tells stories. We do this to make sense of then, now and tomorrow; to make laughter the prevailing mood; to take sadness and alchemise it into something more beautiful and powerful than it was ever expected to be; to get, gain, and deserve attention; to warm, enthral, reward enervate and challenge each other.

The only thing that matters, I believe, is who loves you, and who you love. And I’m stealing a concept from Armistead Maupin when I point out that family is both the Family you are born into, and the Family you acquire as you go through the tale of life. And I have been lucky to be part of many brilliant families who tell many wonderful stories.

Because the truth is, I don’t really write: I tell stories. And I tell stories because I come from a story telling family.

Welcome to the family.

 

*Though even Henry Sidney was known to comment on the pert, indigo derrieres of the locals. “Lyke a coupul of Feeral Cats in a sacke made from th’ Serge de Nimes,” he reported to Elizabeth I in 1540.

**James, not Grenfell, who was – clearly – English, as evidenced by her obsession with ensuring children behaved correctly.

***Little known fact: James Joyce invented the Hashtag Sentence.

How to be Terrified

derek_farrell_terrified

Write. Your whole life. Tell Stories to your family, to your friends and – sometimes – to total strangers.

Write one of these stories down.

Write another.

Write a book.

Read it.

Decide it’s not very good.

Write another.

And another.

Read this one.

Laugh. A lot.

Decide it’s not half bad.

Rewrite it.

Rewrite it.

Edit it.

Rewrite the Fucking thing again.

Have it edited by a brilliant editor who gives great advice (thanks Julia)

Have it read by readers who help you hone it (thanks Norma, David, Warren).

Polish it.

Send it to an agent.

Have the agent return it, saying “Great story, but not for me.”

Realise this is a rejection.

Feel destroyed.

For a Day.

Send it to a publisher, and wait to be rejected.

Get an email from the publisher.

An email that says how much they love your book, and that offers you a contract.

Drink champagne.

Stand on the edge of a cliff.

With a book you believe in with all your heart.

Realise that this – THIS – is what it feels like when dreams come true.

Be Terrified.

And, also, more excited and happier than you have been since Childhood…