The Noir at the Bar events have become regular fixtures of the crime writers’ and readers’ calendars. It was blogger extraordinaire, Peter Rozovsky, who came up with the idea. You get a group of writers of dark, noir fiction together in their natural habitat—a bar, where else? They read a piece of their work and maybe give away a book to some lucky audience member. A simple, strong format that works a treat.

Except during the current Covid-19 lockdown, when all the bars are closed and people are strongly advised not to gather.

So, like everything else, Noir at the Bar has moved online.

At 7:30pm UK time on Wednesday, April 29, I’ll be taking part in the latest Virtual Noir at the Bar—although I’m sure that should be Noir at the Virtual Bar. The noir, after all, is real, even if we have to imagine the rest and pour our own drinks.

Vic Watson is hosting this latest session, which will be held via the Zoom platform, with Simon Bewick providing the technical know-how. I’m looking forward to it, if slightly apprehensive about the techy side of it. I’m far more at home with the mechanical than the electronic, and it’s that side of things that is giving me qualms, rather than the whole ‘reading in front of an audience’ thing.

I thought I’d read a piece of the next Lakes thriller, BONES IN THE RIVER, due out on May 26. It’s certainly the work that’s most on my mind at the moment, and it has the darker edge that suits the format.

At previous events—the non-virtual ones—I’ve read both from short stories and scenes or chapters from the current book at the time. Gauging the reaction is always useful, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that will work using this medium.

Of course, one of the nicest thing about NatB events is that you don’t have to be a published author to perform your work at one. Usually, there are invited writers but also a number of wildcard places available. I don’t know if that will be possible this time.

In some ways, with the Q&A chatroom running alongside the spotlight speakers, we’ll have more opportunity to interact with each other, and with those who’ve tuned in simply to hear the writers speak rather than to take part themselves.

I can’t wait!

(Of course, I’m still worried that I’m going to crash the entire Internet in the process…)

Click here to join the Virtual Noir at the Bar mailing list.

Or click here to register for the April 29 event.

This week’s Word of the Week is toponymy, the study of place names, from the Greek topos, meaning place, and onoma, meaning name. To be correct, toponymy is an inventory of place names, whereas the scientific study of their meanings and use is toponomastics. A branch of onomastics, the study of names.