From The Big Issue…
In the season of decay, in a drug town with a tourist problem, jaded journalist Roddy Mace and disgraced detective James Brindle come together for their second Yorkshire outing in These Darkening Days (Moth, £7.99) . This time they’re on the case of a mysterious slasher but end up questioning the very nature of truth. The author of Pig Iron and Beastings, Myers is the winner of the Portico Prize For Literature and a Northern Writers’ Award.
These Darkening Days is inspired by the true story of the Halifax Slasher in 1938. Can local knowledge of the past and folklore inform current events as well as fiction?
As humans we’re products of our environments, so I don’t see why not. One interesting aspect of rural life is that often family lines can be traced back centuries in just one village or valley, whereas the larger cities tend to be comprised of people from far and wide. This sense of continuity and connection with place surely influences behaviour, culture, rituals, relationships.
You have managed to conjure the same compelling darkness that Val McDermid praised Turning Blue for. Did you consciously follow her advice to turn the brutality down a notch?
I like to surprise readers if possible, and it’s too easy to slip into formulaic writing or predictable scenarios, and These Darkening Days is certainly more subtle and less graphic than Turning Blue, which was written as an assault on the reader’s senses (and sensibilities). But I also toned it down for my own wellbeing, and because I want to avoid being seen as a writer who employs shock tactics for the sake of it. Necessary brutality can have its place – sometimes in crime writing the story demands that – but it’s also good to employ a lighter touch, increase tension through suggestion, sense of atmosphere or more delicate and poetic means.