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Barbara DeMarco Barrett wants you to embrace the dark side, but in a good way.
“This will be, I think, a fun and interesting slant on the area that will show people a different side of the place where they live,” says DeMarco-Barrett about Palm Springs Noir, a collection of short stories set in a cross-section of desert cities from the Salton Sea to the Deepwell neighborhood of Palm Springs and written by authors with Coachella Valley ties.
“With beautiful places, you don't expect much crime,” DeMarco-Barrett says of Palm Springs Noir, which is the seventh in the California Noir Series from Akashic Books. “Tourists go to resort towns and let down their guard. That often results in some sort of crime, usually burglary or theft. All of that together, I thought it would just make a perfect setting for a noir anthology.”
DeMarco-Barrett will bring together a few of the book's authors to discuss their contributions to the book, including Tod Goldberg, Michael Craft, Janet Fitch, and Eduardo Espinoza, in a virtual event at 7 p.m. July 15 hosted by the Rancho Mirage Public Library and moderated by Corey Roskin. To register, click HERE.
Craft, who lives in Rancho Mirage, says he jumped at the chance to be included in the book to stretch his writing craft. “The noir topic of the anthology intrigued me, because I've written many mysteries, but noir has never been my specific sub genre of mysteries,” Craft says. “I thought it would be a really good way for me to exercise my narrative skills in an area that I had not previously tried.”
Like the other 14 stories in the book, Craft says his is “completely original with new characters, and a new situation. I did some research to determine what noir classically is, that I was able to find the needed situations and characters that would fit that feeling.”
Palm Springs Life spoke further with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, who began visiting Palm Springs after moving to Orange County in 1987.
What can the viewers expect from the virtual event?
I think people who attend will learn about the writers and how and why they wrote what they did. I think all the writers in all of the events will probably read a very, very short excerpt from the story. We will talk about how the works came about and the writing process, how was it developed and things writers tend to talk about, did you know where you were going? Is there something in your past?
You are contributing a story to the book based in the Twin Palms neighborhood of Palm Springs. What is your connection?
Every year, I rent a different house in Palm Springs for a month and bring writers out for writer's retreats. And so, two summers ago, I rented a house in Twin Palms. Two years ago, I also got the go by Akashic Publishers to do the book. I loved the neighborhood and the architecture, and I loved being there. It only made sense that my story would take place there.
Is your story just a short story or do you plan to develop it into a full novel?
Right now, it's a short story, and it ends there, but it is open-ended. If you read it, it does end with the protagonist still healthy and still living. It could go on. But I am not sure. Sometimes it can be difficult turning a short story into a novel because certain threads are wound up.
What is the fascination of Palm Springs Noir?
I love the desert, and I love the architecture in Palm Springs, and I like the vibe. It's more relaxed and friendly than Orange County, and I like that. I love that I can go for walks in the morning and hardly run into any traffic.
I learned that there's a lot of crime in Palm Springs, which is an interesting contrast to all of this sunlight and beauty, there's a dark side, as there is everywhere. When I focused my fiction on Palm Springs and I started doing writers retreats, I went to the Palm Springs crime log, because I wanted to make sure that where I was renting houses, it was safe.