Sequins and Lies: Death In Heels by Kitty Murphy

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Death In Heels by Kitty Murphy

By Kitty Murphy

Death In Heels is the first in a series of murder mysteries set in a fictional Dublin drag scene. It’s fun, camp, and very murdery, but the underlying thread of the books and the heart of the series, is the friendship between the main characters, Fi, Robyn and Del.

Fi is twenty-seven. She’s the quiet one of the group and the story is told first person through her eyes as she watches her best friend, Robyn, take his baby steps as the drag queen, Mae B, on the stage at TRASH, a down-at-high-heels drag club tucked into the shadows a little way south of Dame Street, in Dublin.

I’d been mulling over the idea of writing a murder mystery series for a while. I love crime fiction, I grew up reading Agatha Christie and I find the puzzle solving of a mystery soothes my chattering thoughts. At the same time, I’ve always loved drag. The drag I knew wasn’t the sweet, perfect aesthetic of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, with the modern emphasis on expensive outfits and highly skilled make up. Back then, drag was never meant to be nice. It was wild and wonderful, scary and strong. And it gave me a thrill that ran up my spine.

When I had the idea for this series, the characters came to my mind quickly. First came Robyn. I saw him sitting on the edge of a desk with Fi’s phone in his hand. He and Fi would be the very best of friends, I knew that from the beginning. They’d do anything for one another. They’d share a flat in Temple Bar, overlooking the Liffey – Fi adores the Liffey and is obsessed with photographing bridges, posting the pictures on her blog – and although they would both very much have their own lives, I knew they were family, in that chosen-bond way.

Fi herself is a bit of a loner. She works in an artisan food store, pinging the customer’s over-priced organic muesli and fancy baked goods at the tills. She doesn’t dream of greatness because she doesn’t need or want it, but she knows that Robyn was always destined to be a star, and as soon as Mae B hits the stage in her size twelve stilettos, the rest of the world would feel the same.

All this appeared in my head in the time it took me to boil a kettle. When I had my coffee mug in my hand, I could see the twist.

I was happily writing away at the early pages, excited with the new idea, but something was missing. My coffee was still too hot to drink but my mind was racing with characters, with sub-plots…

Then, as Fi and Robyn climb the steps to go into TRASH, as we are first introduced to this fictional drag world, there in the club foyer, we meet Del, and suddenly my brain exploded with a blast of sequins, tulle, satins, rhinestones, animal prints and glitter.

I knew, even as I typed out the first chapter, that I’d fallen in writing-love.

The TRASH drag family are rarely underdressed, or understated. In Death In Heels we meet the drag queens, Del, Thora Point, Eve and Miss Merkin, and then in the second book, Death In The Dark, we meet drag kings, Stan The Man, CK Dexter Shaven, and Colonel Mufftard. In writing the performers I wanted to make sure they shine from the page, but also that when the wigs were off and the costumes hung on the rails, that they were real people.

*

I’ve been writing for many years. I used to pay the rent by writing for papers and magazines, I’ve written a fair bit of non-fiction and I’ve had a number of short stories and poems published, but I always wanted the book deal. I fixed my mind on getting there and I worked, and worked. I sit down every morning and I write something, and even if I have to rewrite it the next day, I get words on the page. I draft plots when I’m making dinner, and I work through the next chapter when I’m out with the dog; whatever I’m doing, there is some part of my mind still busy with stories.

When Death In Heels went out on submission we had a lot of interest, but nothing prepared me for the feelings of joy, of sheer bloody happiness, when my agent Ed Wilson told me that Hannah Bond at Thomas & Mercer had fallen in love with my messy little troupe at TRASH, and she really, really wanted the book.

From the beginning, Hannah was fantastic. Along with my developmental editor, Russel McClean, who is a genius at story-wrangling and a truly lovely person, Hannah shared the same excitement for the series as I do. Editing became a really   positive experience, bringing out each character even more and polishing the story into shape. Moving through the process, I gained new editors in the Thomas & Mercer family, first Leodora Darlington, and now Kasim Mohammed, and I’ve worked with copy editors, cover designers and marketing teams, and throughout each stage I’ve had so much love for the series from everyone, it’s been wonderful.

Now, as Mae B has blossomed into a queen, so my hurried first few pages have grown into an actual book. Death In Heels is out there in the world, the second book, Death In The Dark, is coming next April, and I’m writing the third…

I love this series – I am so excited for readers to meet Fi, and Robyn, and Del, and the rest of my fictional drag family.  If murder mysteries are your thing, I really hope you’ll join me and escape into a world of sequins and lies, and murder.

(c) Kitty Murphy

About Death In Heels:

Death In Heels by Kitty Murphy

When Fi went to support her best friend’s drag debut, she didn’t imagine a killer would be going to watch it too. And they’re waiting for their grand finale…

Fi McKinnery is full of nerves as the gorgeous Mae B (aka her best friend Robyn) takes to the stage for her debut at drag club TRASH, but Mae B is dazzling…that is until local queen Eve lampoons her performance and ruins the show. So when Eve turns up dead later that night, face down in the gutter of a rain-soaked Dublin street, the timing seems awfully suspicious…

The police are quick to rule Eve’s death an accident, but Fi is convinced it was foul play. When her ‘Hagatha Christie’ amateur sleuthing backfires, it drives a wedge between Fi and Robyn. But when another friend is targeted in a hit-and-run, she’s determined to get this twisted killer caught, no matter what the consequences.

Even as the rest of the gang start to distance themselves, Fi is certain that they’re all in terrible danger. Something dark is lurking beneath the feathers, glitter and sequins of Dublin’s drag scene. And it’s not just the sticky floor and cracked mirrors. Someone is targeting the queens. When another member of the group is gunned down, it’s clear the danger is coming ever closer. Can Fi stop the killer before any more of her friends are hurt?

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Kitty lives with her husband, Roger, on the very westerly edge of Co. Clare, Ireland. She adores drag in all its forms and crime fiction in all its chilling splendour. Kitty is bi/queer. From a well-spent youth divided equally between the library and the LGBTQ+ scene, it was only a matter of time until both worlds collided in a flurry of fictional sequins. Follow Kitty on Instagram @kitty_murphy_writes

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