1 – Okay, Darren what can I get you? Tea, coffee or is there some strange Stoke delicacy that I know nothing about?
DS - A cup of tea would be lovely, thank you. Let’s not get into strange Stoke delicacies…
2 – Darren, I’ve already let slip that you hail from Stoke, but I’m sure everyone would like to know a little more about you and what makes you tick, so, deep breath and quick bio. Are you a full time writer or do you, by necessity, frequent the real world on a regular basis?
DS - I’d call myself a hobby writer. I fit it in between work and home life. Of course I’d love to do it for a living but that is a long way off. I’ve been an avid, almost compulsive, reader since my early teens. I have always been fascinated by stories and how they can have a powerful effect on the reader. I’ve always wanted to be able to tell my own stories and give a positive message, if possible. I’m 43 and live in Hull with my wife, Julie, stepson Adam and a grey and white cat called Dusty.
3 – How did you initially get into writing? What does your family think of your writing and all the time you devote to your fictional characters? Who in your family is your biggest fan?
DS - Initially I wrote poetry and was spurred on by an early online poetry website. I also attended a creative writing class which helped to shape some of my work. My family offers nothing but support. My wife often beta reads my stories and I’d say she can be my biggest fan but also refreshingly honest.
4 – Can you remember the first thing you had published? Did you run the gauntlet of the query letter? Enter a competition or decide to self publish?
DS - The first thing I had published was a chapter of my poetry in a book called Before the Last Shadow Fades. It was chosen from an online site by the publisher so I didn’t have to do a great deal of work to get it published.
5 – From your own experience as a writer do you have any tips for others, particularly those not yet published? Is there anything you would do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
DS - The internet is full of writing tips. I’d simply say, write often and self-edit, be critical of your own work and put yourself in your characters shoes. You can read all the writing books in the world but in order to be a writer you have to WRITE. Experience leads to growth. With the benefit of hindsight I would have completed a degree in English!
6 – I know you write gritty crime fiction, does this entail much research and if so, how do you go about it? Do you simply have a good imagination or do you lurk about on street corners taking notes. Is there a particular genre or type of scene that you would avoid and if so why?
DS - For the stories and novellas I have written not a great deal of research has been needed. My life experience of living between two large housing estates has stood me in good stead for the Longcroft Tales. I try to make my stories about the characters and sometimes they lead the way. I don’t avoid anything as such, but I try very hard to keep all events within the boundaries of the setting. That was difficult with my novella The Bank Manager and the Bum. In the end I let the main characters, Frank and Giles, lead the way for me.
7 – I know you listen to music while you write, Darren, and I know you include reference to music in your work, but is there a particular song or artist that you feel is significant to your writing.
DS - In a word, no. My music taste is quite broad so I don’t feel any one artist speaks to me more than another. However, here a link to a quirky little album that features in The Bank Manager and the Bum: Here
8 - Were you brought up in a house full of books, or did you sneak off to the library at every opportunity as I did. As a child which was your favourite book? Do you have a favourite book and author now? What are you reading now?
DS - I am possibly the only reader in my family, most certainly the only avid reader. Since I was born in 1970 the library was main access to books. I used to read a lot of the Hardy Boys stories but as a teen Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World was a favourite. Terry Pratchett is my favourite author. However, I’m going to choose a series rather than a book for my favourite. Stephen King’s Gunslinger series has to be top right now. I invested so much time in that series. Right now I am reading Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam. I’d say to any novice writer, if you want to learn to write characters read Pratchett – he is the master.
9 – I’d love you to tell everyone a little about the books you currently have published.
DS - I’m a story writer rather than a novelist at the moment. Here’s a list of my current releases:
Tales from the Longcroft (Tales from the Longcroft Estate) published by Byker Books
Tales from the Longcroft 2 published by Byker Books
Shattered Hearts and Broken Glass (Best of British) (Longcroft novella)
The Bank Manager and the Bum (A Novella)
Moonchild’s Sins (P.I. Potter #1) (A Novella)
Dark Voices (A Short Story Collection)
10 – If it’s not a closely guarded secret, and won’t spoil the plot, can you give me a hint at what you have planned next?
DS - I’m currently working on (working title) Belfty and The Bum. A follow up to The Bank Manager and the Bum. The bum in the first book, Frank, finds himself unwittingly in a maelstrom of violence of supernatural events. His powers seems to be growing…
11 – Pick one of your characters and sell him/her to us in twenty words or less.
DS - Frank is a loner, he like’s Pink Floyd, he’s studied Buddhism and he seems to know the contents of your head…
12 –Please introduce the book you’ve brought with you, Darren, and while we’re on a roll you can read a short excerpt.
DS - Today I’ve brought along The Bank Manager and the Bum. (Disclaimer - adult language and violence. Read on if you're okay with that. Cover your eyes if you're not. )
Chapter One - City Life
Across the bitterly cold city of Hull not a soul stirred. A harvest moon cast a pale orange light across the darker parts of the light-polluted city. The nightly revellers were all in bed by now, or in taxis, hiccuping and puking. Husbands were arriving home from lads’ nights out and trying not to disturb slumbering wives. The enticing aromas of pizzas, curry and kebabs were slowly fading from the city centre as one by one the fast food establishments started to close their doors and pull down their shutters. The only sign they’d been open was the liberal covering of pizza boxes and empty plastic containers strewn across the city centre. Police patrols occasionally stopped to have a word with swaying groups of drunks. Mostly they let people be. They stopped the odd fight and took those that would not leave it alone to the city cells, where they’d wake up next morning wondering how they’d arrived there.
In the brightly lit doorway of a bank, a man slept. He wore ragged, mismatched clothes. A ragged and filthy short beard graced his sallow features. He’d positioned his possessions in carrier bags behind him, shielded from prying eyes between the bank window and his body. A large Alsatian slept fitfully, cuddled within the circle of his arms. A filthy, thin blanket covered them but was of little use in keeping out the cold which gnawed at their bones. The dog’s legs kicked out briefly as it chased an elusive dream rabbit.
In the early hours a pack of three predators stood over the homeless man, swaying drunkenly and giggling. The largest of three wore a retro coat with a bullseye logo on the back, shielding him from the bitter wind. He sneered as he looked down at the sleeping man.
“Look what we have here. Fucking litter lining the streets. Oi, mate GET A FUCKING JOB!” he bellowed down at the man, who didn’t stir.
One of the men, who wore designer glasses and a short bomber jacket, looked around nervously.
“Come on, Dave, let’s get a fucking pizza and go before the queue in the taxi rank gets too long.”
At this point the dog stirred sleepily. He blinked and raised his head looking up at the men.
“Fuck off, Blake, you soft bugger. Do you want to see our fucking streets littered with this?” He indicated the man.
The third man spoke for the first time. “He’s right; it’s a fucking disgrace. Where do these people come from?”
Detecting the aggression in the men’s voices the dog growled menacingly.
Dave kicked the man’s leg. “What you growling at mutt? Protecting this filthy bugger are you?”
The man twitched and started to stir. “Ignoring me, is it?”
Dave started to kick the man; he was joined shortly by the other two.
Disgust turned their faces even uglier as they laid into the helpless, man. They did not spare the dog, which bore much of the brunt of their cowardly attack as the blows rained down on it. The man looked up at them with bleary eyes and tried to cover his face and shield the dog at the same time. When they had tired of their sport, the three predators hurled more abuse at the man then walked off laughing; they didn't look back. The dog whimpered on occasion, but neither of the two battered forms moved; they simply lay blood-stained in the doorway.
13- Okay, can you give us the blurb and let us know where we can find it?
Giles does the decent thing and calls for help, then puts the incident out of his mind. However, having been witness to things he cannot explain, he feels drawn to the man and tries to track him down … only to find he has vanished.
But who is the enigmatic, homeless Frank? Why are two very nasty men trying to find him? Why has a prostitute been abducted? And what does the future hold for Giles’s seriously ill son, Jake?
Darren Sant skilfully weaves the various strands to create a compelling story that is as unflinching as it is heart-warming.
As the story unfolds, the tension increases and the true nature of Frank’s amazing secret begins to be revealed. The stakes are high as the criminal and the supernatural come together for a final, inevitable showdown.
The Novella is FREE until Friday 10th January so get your skates over to HERE and download.
If you want to find out more about Darren and his work you can catch up with him at his:
Twitter: @groovydaz39 & @Longcroft_Tales
15 - And finally before you leave, a test for your imaginative, story weaving skills. We’re playing a little game that I hope all my guests will contribute to. Can you give me 100 words of your choosing to follow on from the very last line from Alfie Robins? Your last line will be picked up by the next guest... and so on. Please feel free to add your own twist:
...I think Alfie was drunk when he did his bit. Please feel free to find a body or bludgeon the elf ;)
‘You bleedin’ little elf, bring back my fairy, the Christmas tree looks naked without it.' The despicable thief grinned as he slipped the plastic fairy into his pocket. The moon washed over his features and for just a moment you could see horribly twisted horns upon his head. He slunk down an alley, taking the darkness with him, whistling along to an old Rolling Stones tune that was echoing around the dark caverns in his mind. A passer-by might just have heard him whisper, “Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name.”
A nearby howl disturbed the still night air. His gimlet-eyes spotted a figure standing in the gaping maw of the alley…
Thanks for stopping by Darren. It’s been a pleasure to chat with you and find out more about you and of course about your books. Best of luck with your next book. Do let me know when it's released.