Newcastle literary group, Noir at the Bar, has brought together crime writers to publish a collection of short, fictional (allegedly…) crime stories.

Running for over four years from Newcastle’s The Town Wall pub, the physical event was an opportunity for crime authors to showcase their creative prowess with fellow writers and crime fiction enthusiasts.

When the government lockdown started, Noir’s founder, writer and creative writing tutor Vic Watson, looked to move the event online. She invited authors to a free, weekly virtual get together, and Simon Bewick provided marketing and technical support. One week later, the first Virtual Noir at the Bar launched.

In less than two months, the weekly live event has been seen by hundreds of attendees live and thousands watching the recordings the following day. Over 70 authors have already appeared at Virtual Noir at the Bar, with over 100 more scheduled up to August.

The duo wanted to create something lasting from these virtual events, and so Noir from the Bar was conceived – a collection of 20+ short crime stories. Created, and published in just six weeks, with publication date scheduled for June 10th 2020, the anthology features best-sellers authors including Neil Broadfoot, Roz Watkins, Sharon (SJ) Bolton and Zoe Sharp, plus some of the best up-and-coming writers in the genre today, stretching from Newcastle to New Zealand. All contributors have given their time and work for free and have agreed that all proceeds should go towards supporting our NHS through this quiet period.

Vic Watson said of the project: “Although we run our events from a local pub, they have previously attracted writers visiting the UK from Iceland, Germany and America, so we knew there would be a global appetite for people to get involved in a virtual event. Running Virtual Noir at the Bar has given us the ability to host writers from across world, together in the one space. We’ve even had authors in New Zealand getting up at 6:30am to appear and bringing an audience with them!

“As with our events, I’m keen to showcase new and emerging writers alongside established authors within the anthology. People may buy it because of the writers they’re familiar with, but they’ll be treated to stories from writers that within a few years will be household names.”

Simon added: “Knowing what Vic has achieved with Noir at the Bar and with the amazing network of authors she has, it seemed an opportunity to use my twenty five years in the publishing industry to create something beyond the event itself: a lasting experience for readers and a way to raise some money at the same time. In all my years, both working for one of the world’s most respected publishers, and my experiences in being published myself, I’ve never known a project come together so quickly. Everyone involved has given their absolute best, with the vast majority of authors writing something new specifically for the anthology. Anyone buying the book will not only get some of the best short crime and mystery fiction available at a fantastic price but will be donating to the NHS – it’s a win, win situation!”

Noir from the Bar will be available from June 10th, via Amazon Kindle, for £2.99 (paperback details to follow). All proceeds will go to NHS Charities Together.

Those interested in joining future Virtual Noir at the Bar live author readings can join the mailing list here.


Cover image by Simon Berwick

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