Murder meets journalism in new ebook

Murder meets journalism in new ebook

10 October 2012 - by BY JOANNE FLEMING

WHEN police find Northern Ireland’s leading poet with a noose around his neck and his trousers around his ankles they assume it is a case of death by sexual misadventure.

However, when Sunday tabloid hack Barry Crowe looks into the dead poet’s background he uncovers, amongst other things, blackmail, a trio of mysterious muses and experimentation with psychedelic drugs.

A handcuff wielding policewoman also features prominently in Tony Bailie’s latest book, which combines sex, drugs and violence with comedy and poetry.

The Downpatrick man’s previous novels The Lost Chord (2006) and ecopunks (2010), were both issued in traditional paperback format by Lagan Press but A Verse to Murder is his first to be published exclusively as an ebook.

“I still love the traditional book and can’t pass a bookshop without going in and rummaging round,” said Tony. “But with ebook sales rising by 188 per cent in the first six months of this year it is a format that writers can’t ignore.”

As a Novella — shorter than a novel, but with more meat to the bones than a short story —A Verse to Murder can be read in a couple of hours.

“It has a lot packed into it, though,” said Tony. “It combines mystery, murder and betrayal with shocking plot twists and cliff-hanger chapter endings, black humour and not forgetting of course the foxy PSNI woman with the handcuff fetish.”

Tony’s previous short story The Druid’s Dance appeared in the award-winning Irish crime-fiction anthology Requiems for the Departed and he has also published two collections of poetry. Along with working as a sub-editor in the Irish News, it all seems the perfect breeding ground for the mix of crime, poetry and journalism that makes up Tony’s “assault on society”.

However, he says he could never be Barry, the tabloid hack of his imagination. Nor has he met such an interesting PSNI officer.

“As far as I am concerned a novel allows you to deviate from what you may expect of their characters in life,” he said.

“One of the things I like about writing sometimes is that it’s like peering into a window — you get to see sides of people they would not dare show to the public.”

And having shown his story to a couple of amused local tabloid journalists, Tony says threats of libel charges have already been made.

“It’s an interesting job being a tabloid journalist,” he said. “Knocking at someone’s door and asking them if they’re a fraudster or a sexual deviant. It takes a certain type of personality to do that job and I don’t have it. It takes a very determined person and one with a certain amount of courage.

“The character Barry is a sort of cartoon character of the tabloid hack, with no morals or qualms.”

If all goes well, Tony may consider documenting some more of Barry’s adventures and create a series of stories.

“It’s been very successful so far,” he said. “About a third of the sales have come from America, which has surprised me. I have a few friends over there and I had notified a few publishers, but I guess a lot of it is down to social media.

“It works as a short novel but I do not think it would work as a full novel. “It’s a lifestyle thing as well. With this ebook you can read it in your lunch hour if you like. A friend of mine read it on a flight going over to Germany.

“It is just a good wee story, it is an experiment.”

A Verse to Murder published by ecopunks fiction can be bought from for £2.50.