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Crime Fiction, The Class Question and Imposter Syndrome: Dark Light by James Murphy

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Dark Light

By James Murphy

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With the recent publication of Dark Light, the final book in my Terror Trilogy, now seems like the perfect time to stop and take stock of my writing journey to date. When sitting down for the first time to write what would become book one, The Rise of Terror, writing about social class couldn’t have been further from my mind, or so I thought. Imagine my surprise therefore, when on publication, a considerable number of people commented positively on the fact that it championed the streets of the working-class West Belfast, where I grew up. I won’t lie, I was flattered by the remarks, I’ve always been proud of my roots and have never sought to deny them. In fact, I think that I owe a lot of my success in life to where I have come from and the values of my family. Still, at this point I should mention that the chair on which I sat when first committing words to paper was approximately twenty miles north of Belfast, situated within the study of a decidedly middle class house in a middle class area, by a man who was working as a School Principal and living what could only be described as a middle class lifestyle. So what did I now know about the “mean streets” of West Belfast. As it turned out, quite a bit, as I came to realise when as a wet behind the ears, newbie author, I was asked the dreaded question, “So, what’s the book about?”

After several bumbling responses, I was forced to answer the question properly, to myself. Of course, on the face of it, the book is about a fledgling detective, taking on a fledgling serial killer and cult movement whilst working out of an inherited detective agency, situated within a building that was his (and my) former primary school. Thematically though, it was largely about identity and change, unbeknownst to me at the time, and apt too, since I’d relatively recently before, become a parent for the first time and had been contemplating a career change.

So how did my writing take me back to where I came from? Well, in one sense I never really left. I have family there, so would still frequent the area. The “bigger picture” answer though was a healthy fear of failure, coupled with a good old-fashioned dose of imposter syndrome. In short, if I was going to be a writer, I was going to be the best I could be. A strong work ethic and the support of my family was what gave me a foothold in the teaching profession, but it was imposter syndrome (and perhaps a bit of good fortune) that propelled me to reach the pinnacle of my career in education at a relatively young age. Now, as a writer, I find myself similarly motivated and determined, learning, honing and I hope, perfecting my craft. Despite the trappings of my lifestyle, my mindset is still very much entrenched in the working classes, which is something that many amongst my peers within the fantastic Northern Ireland crime fiction writers community, would share, and not necessarily a bad thing, I would argue. After all, on these islands, a significant proportion of crime fiction writers are from what is perceived to be working class backgrounds, and to paraphrase the fantastic Ian Rankin’s response to the literary question, “where are all the working class writers”?, ‘We’re over here on the bestsellers list”. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working hard and I’m determined, so who knows what may lie ahead?

(c) James Murphy

Tina Calder, Publisher of Excalibur Press adds: “Since James joined Excalibur Press four years ago he has grown as an author. His books are a series of gripping tales linked together by a core plot line. “We are absolutely delighted to be publishing the third book in the Terror Trilogy – Dark Light this month. Fans of the crime fiction genre will not be disappointed by not just this book but the entire series.”

About Dark Light:

When a late night altercation on a Belfast mountaintop leads to murder, all the evidence points just one way. Boston. Faced with the news that the victim was likely Terror, Mark Shaw must grapple with events in his recent past that are a mystery even to him, in order to uncover the truth.

As the discovery of other bodies places the identity of the first victim in doubt, what begins as a holiday for Shaw and his family soon becomes a nightmare as events on either side of the Atlantic conspire to threaten their future and tear the very fabric of Farset Investigations apart.

With a team broken by their own actions and divided by those of others, they are far from prepared for what lies ahead, but face it they must. A sinister act of revenge from cult leader, The Prophet brings with it child abduction and tragedy, whilst new murders bearing links to Terror and his followers bring with them a shocking realisation with global ramifications.

In this, the chilling conclusion to the Terror trilogy, Mark Shaw must first heal his broken team before leading them through the most dangerous fight of their lives. A fight that will bring them directly back into the evil world of Terror and onto an inevitable collision course with cult religious group, The Enlightenment.

The question, will they be victorious and if so, at what cost?

Order your copy online here.

About the author

James Murphy is a Northern Irish writer working within the genre of Crime Fiction. His first novel in the Terror Trilogy, The Rise of Terror, was first published in 2016 and achieved a second print run with Excalibur Press in 2017, having been met with excellent reviews. James has since achieved Professional Membership Status with the Irish Writers Centre and teaches Crime Fiction Writing classes both online and present in person. The second book in the Terror Trilogy, The Terror Within was released in April 2019. It too was met with excellent reviews and further cemented James’ status as a writer of compelling and page turning crime fiction.
After obtaining a Single Honours English Degree from Queen’s University Belfast, he embarked on a teaching career, first entering the classroom just over 20 years ago. In the intervening years he has become a successful educationalist, holding the offices of Head of English Department, Vice Principal and School Principal along the way and guiding schools both in Northern Ireland and across the UK to leading edge status. Still working broadly within the field of education, he is now a member of the Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University, helping to develop and support the teachers of the future. In addition to this role, James also holds active directorship of Merlin Arts CIC and The Northern Ireland Festival of Writing, where he and his co-founders work to improve the lives of others through the power of writing. It was after a visit to a Medium and a well-timed word from his wife that gave the west Belfast man the confidence to get writing, and he’s never looked back since.

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