Creative Writing at Leicester Hosting F.C. Malby

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

F. C. Malby, “Dead Drop”

Reposted from Creative Writing at Leicester

F. C.Malby graduated with a first-class joint honours degree in Geography and Education. She has travelled widely and taught in the Czech Republic, the Philippines and London. She writes novels, short stories and poetry. Her debut novel, Take Me to the Castle, won The People’s Book Awards. Her debut short story collection, My Brother Was a Kangaroo, includes award-winning stories published in literary journals and magazines worldwide. She is a contributor to anthologies including In Defence of Pseudoscience: Reflex Fiction Volume Five (Reflex Press), Unthology 8 (Unthank Books), and Hearing Voices: The Litro Anthology of New Fiction (Kingston University Press) alongside Pulitzer prize winner, Anthony Doerr. Her website is here.

About Dead Drop

Liesl is an art thief and an exceptionally good one. She steals priceless paintings from Vienna’s art galleries and delivers them to wealthy private collectors. This life of anonymous notes and meticulous planning, of adrenaline-fuelled dead drops and dramatic escapes, suits her restless spirit and desire for solitude and anonymity. But when Leisl finds a body on Stephansplatz underground steps instead of the expected note, she understands that she’s involved in a deadly game and that her own life is in danger. This fast-paced, intelligent thriller exposes the undercover world of art heists and takes us on a journey through Vienna’s galleries and museums until Leisl comes up against a truth that makes her question everything she knows.

You can read more about Dead Drop on the publisher’s website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from the novel. 

From Dead Drop, by F. C. Malby

I hear the roll and clunk of the train’s wheels on the steel tracks below, feel its vibrations in my toes and through my thighs as it leaves the platform. The wind rushes into the tunnel from Stephansplatz, its caress warm as it whips down the steps to the underground platform and fills the void. 

The Vienna spring brings with it cherry blossom and azure skies, the blues becoming celestial in the late afternoon light. Most count the short, hot summer months. I count the winter months until spring, and then when the leaves turn to a deep, burnt amber, I begin again. 

As I reach the top step, a body lies on the pavement, feet contorted, laces undone, socks pushing through holes in the soles. A red, woollen hat rests on the concrete slab by his head, hands clutch an empty bottle of Kaiser beer. Not a soul stops to look. A body littering the pavement is a familiar sight on this part of the underground. It’s not always clear whether the person is alive or dead. 

I am here for the note. Stepping closer to avoid the people coming up the steps behind me, I spot a corner of paper in his top jacket pocket and pull it free. Without reading the words, I slide it into my jacket. Checking the pocket on the other side of his jacket, I feel something hard and rough and pull out a brooch shaped like a star. I count the spokes, ten of them, and run my fingers across its surface. It lacks the pearls, but at a guess it would have been handcrafted by Hapsburg jeweller, Rozet and Fischmeister. I slip it into my pocket. An unexpected treasure. Reaching down and taking his wrist, I feel for a pulse. I should have checked it first but this is new territory for me. All signs of life have drained away and death was recent. A touch of heat still lingers on the skin, rough and calloused. I pull the hat down over his face. The beer bottle, I suspect, will have been planted to make this look like a natural event. He should have been alive when I reached him. 

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Rebecca Bradley for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. It feels undeserved but I’m really grateful. The truth is, very much like writing, I would still blog even without readers because I really enjoy it. The process helps me to order my thoughts, and I’m the kind of person who thinks through my writing, in other words the ideas come to me as I write. I find inspiration everywhere and I enjoy the interaction with other bloggers and hearing from readers. For me it is a really interactive community. So, thank you to Rebecca. You can find her Crime Writing Blog here.



The award comes with the following instructions :

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

So, here are seven facts about me that you might not know:

  1. I love acoustic guitar and live concerts, and am seeing one of my favourite singers in Vienna LIVE tonight! (A FREE eBook of my novel or two of my short stories goes to anyone who can figure out who I’m going to see.)
  2. I live for a steaming hot coffee in the mornings. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee just makes my heart glad; a coffee shop is even better.
  3. I’ve flown in a helicopter. Yes, a chopper, and I really enjoyed it. I would go again in a flash. The fact that you can just lift off and fly at an angle, the openness and the view from them is awesome!
  4. I can windsurf and water ski. It’s hard to know which is more difficult, but I prefer the speed and the adrenalin rush of waterskiing.
  5. I shook hands with the Queen when she visited our home town. I was at primary school and we lined up outside Colchester Town Hall to see her.
  6. I never imagined being a writer or ever writing a book. I wanted to be a vet (until I discovered that you have to actually operate on animals). I then wanted to join the Police! I think there was a part of me that wanted to help people (or animals!)
  7.  I can play the piano, clarinet and guitar, but I spend more of my time singing.

Now to pass on the award to some inspiring bloggers who you might also want to follow:

Elizabeth Craig

Elaine Aldred

Avril Joy

Jen Harvey

Vicky Newham

Belinda Pollard

Ruth Hunt

Shirley Golden

Tania Hershman

Sarah Hilary 

Paul McVeigh

Susi Holliday

Natalie Bowers

Carys Bray

Vanessa Gebbie



Finding New Books…


It’s not always easy to find books that you will enjoy, and very often I have set a book aside to come back to or have left it all together, and not without a sense of guilt. How do you find the books that you will really enjoy?

I enjoy browsing through bookshops, second hand and new, and finding an author whose work I haven’t yet delved into. I generally go by the blurb and the first few pages. The cover less so; I have learned over the years that the cover will not always give me an idea of what to expect. Some of the covers that have been less appealing to me have been those of books which I really enjoyed, and vise versa.  The old cliché rings true for me with books as well as for all of the other implied judgements we make!

I do look at Amazon’s recommendations, although they sometimes recommend my own work! I look at the emails they send and the recommendations on the site itself. They often give an accurate representation of my tastes.

I really appreciate recommendations from friends and other authors and will try both established authors and debut novelists. Don’t forget that every author was new to the craft at some point. We often cling to the authors we know and love but can miss some fantastic books if we don’t branch out. I have learned who to trust as far as book recommendations go and it has certainly expanded my horizon. Reading widely is important: push the boundaries and try a new genre, read something you ‘would never read’.

I read a lot of book blogs and there are a selection at the end of a previous post on blogging. Book bloggers are a fantastic way of finding new books and getting an overview of new releases, and sometimes classics I’ve missed. Their summaries are often more helpful to me than the reviews on various books sites.

Literary Prizes flag authors who I might not otherwise have found, this includes short story awards as I particularly enjoy reading short stories and collections. There are many book prizes, but if you find the ones that suit your tastes you can find some wonderful books.

I often find books on Pinterest, which I pin for later and I can go back to the list on my to-be-read board later and take a closer look to see if it is something I want to buy and read. It’s a great way of seeing the covers in a larger format and reading reviews.

Libraries are a good way of finding books, especially out of print editions. Having a library card is also a fantastic way of encouraging children to read.

Finally, bestseller lists. I left this until last because I don’t always love the bestsellers, and people’s tastes vary, but going to the bestseller shelves in bookshops and looking on-line will give you an idea of what’s popular. Moods and genres shift, and there is a wave of psychological thrillers. I have found some great books this way. Amazon has a list of kindle bestsellers. I have linked the fiction page, but you can find almost anything. I you are looking for a particular genre within fiction, the links are on their sidebar. Most of you are familiar with this but it’s worth a reminder.

What have you discovered that surprised you? Any recommendations?