It’s always a pleasure to welcome authors to my website and particularly so today as I say hi to Andrea Darby. I’ve known Andrea for yonks as a fellow newspaper journalist and now she’s also a fellow author as she has just brought out her first book The Husband Who Refused to Die. Welcome Andrea.
I’m very single-minded and completely besotted with music, writing and dogs. I started playing the piano aged six, then took up the flugelhorn – basically a fat trumpet with a more mellow sound – which I played in brass bands for many years and gave me the opportunity to perform in concerts and competitions all over the UK and abroad. The social life that goes with ensemble music making is fantastic.
When I’m not writing, I teach piano from my home, near Cheltenham, always accompanied by Frank the poodle.
… Oh, and I’m obsessed with pens and Post-it notes, to the point where I’m contemplating a January stationery detox.
Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?
At school, I always loved writing; usually about my family and often embarrassing revelations (for them). My mum still quotes one of my year three efforts when I wrote: “My mum is a kind, caring person but she smells of hospitals.” I have to point out that she was a nurse!
After doing a degree in English and Religious Studies, I followed my dad into journalism, starting as a reporter on local newspapers, and then moving on to the Bristol Evening Post as a sub-editor, before becoming a freelance journalist.
I enjoyed the freedom of freelancing and took on a variety of editing, writing and PR assignments. Articles I’ve written have been published in many national and regional titles, including Woman, Prima, Best, Take a Break, Prima Baby, Dogs Today and Cotswold Life.
I’ve always dabbled with creative writing, but decided to get serious with it a
few years ago, and eventually put the journalism on hold to free up time to focus on writing a novel. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I’ve relished the many challenges so far and I’m excited about developing and improving as an author.
The idea for ‘The Husband Who Refused to Die’ came to me when I was reading a magazine article about a young couple who’d both signed up to have their bodies frozen when they die. They’d paid a large sum of money to be cryonically preserved, to use the scientific term, in the hope they can come back to life at a later date –when science has moved on. I was intrigued by their story and the motivations and implications of such a radical choice.
I decided to ignore the advice about writing what you know. I knew virtually nothing about cryonics, except that it existed and had been given the sci-fi treatment in books and films. But for me that was part of the appeal – to explore something outside of my experience. It was more about writing something I’d like to read, and often that’s books in which the extraordinary happens in ordinary lives.
I was surprised cryonics had never been used (to my knowledge) as a premise in realistic, contemporary fiction as, through my research, I discovered that it was a reality for hundreds of people in the UK who are signed up to be frozen, and several thousand in America.
It was great to be able to meet and interview some of these people, and I even attended Cryonics UK’s ‘emergency procedure’ training weekend, where I witnessed preservation techniques being practised on a dummy. Not your regular research assignment!
All of this led me to create Carrie and Dan’s story. Dan dies suddenly, a few years after announcing to a somewhat bewildered Carrie his wish to be cryo-preserved, a wish that has some challenging repercussions for Carrie and her teenage daughter – not least an intrusive media, an interfering relative and a mystery person with a serious grudge.
In a strange coincidence, the heart-breaking story of the teenager with terminal cancer who had to take her fight to be frozen after death to the High Court broke in the news just a few days before my book was due to be published, so I’ve had lots of media interest.
I hope the book’s light tone and dark edge will appeal to readers who like contemporary novels, maybe a romance, but are open to something different.
It explores many of the common themes in realistic fiction, with the cryonics premise simply casting an unusual light on a story about love, loss, family and friendship.
Tell me about your journey to publication, who is your publisher or did you decide to self-publish and why?
Although I had early interest from several agents and fellow writers urged me to keep submitting, I’m not a patient person and, with nothing definite, decided not to. Also, in the light of recent, significant scientific breakthroughs in stem cell research, nanotechnology and life extension – even talk of the first head transplant – I thought the time was right to get the book out there. I found the idea of self-publishing a little scary, so jumped at the opportunity of assisted publishing with Matador; it felt like a halfway house.
Where can I buy a copy of your book?
The e-book was launched on November 28th and the paperback will be available from December 13th from Amazon, WHSmith online, Foyles, several local bookshops, via publishers Matador, and my own website andreadarby.co.uk
Where can we find out more about you?
There’s lots of information on my website (andreadarby.co.uk), Matador author page (via troubador.co.uk) and author Facebook page, or you can follow me on Twitter at @andreadarby27