The Unpierced Heart 
(AKA The Whores' Asylum) & more!

Welcome to my website! If you're looking for Katy Darby the London author, not the model from Manchester, nor the Australian doctor, you've come to the right place. 
My debut novel, a Victorian drama called The Whores' Asylum, was published by Fig Tree (Penguin) in 2012 and is now out in Penguin paperback under the less racy title The Unpierced Heart. Don't let the title change confuse you - they're the same book.


On Thursday 22nd October I will be one of the speakers at the Authorpreneur event run by City University as part of the Inside Out Festival. My fellow panellists are (new Authorpreneur course lecturer) Heather O'Connellwho has 25 years' experience in publishing, and author Mark Edwardswho's sold a million books. So I'm planning to learn something too ...

In October I was one of the many readers for Moby Dick Unabridged at the South Bank Centre - the entirety of the great whaling novel read aloud, live, over a period of four days, by volunteers including Ali Smith & Melville's great-great-granddaughter. It was a very interesting & enjoyable event to be part of and I'm planning to blog about the experience soon. I got to read the bit where Moby tears Ahab's leg off and it was SO COOL. 

I ran a workshop for Spread the Word on Writing Fiction for Performance at the South Bank Centre on Thursday 18th June where people wrote flash fiction pieces on Love in preparation for StorySLAM:Live on 2 July!

The award-winning short story event I run, Liars' League, had a mini series of stories from Hong Kong and New York as well as London broadcast on BBC Radio 4. You can find the recordings on our website.

I did a workshop for Spread the Word on Writing Short Fiction for Fun & Profit at the Free Word Centre. It was sold out and knackering, but went really well I think. One day I'll turn the enormous resources handout into a slender book ...

I spoke about my own writing and Liars' League (see below) as part of Canon Tales at the TLC Literary Conference, also at the Free Word Centre. I also coached aspiring authors on presenting and pitching their work.

I appeared on Radio 4's The World Tonight (SQUEE) to talk about the art of the  short story in the light of Alice Munro's Nobel Literature win. You can hear the discussion (6 min), also featuring the Guardian's Alex Clark & presenter David Eades here, and I blog about the experience here.

Wales Arts Review have published my short The Scarecrow in their special story issue, alongside interviews with masters of the form Will Self and Rachel Trezise.

I also had a couple of historical short stories read on Radio 4 by world-class actors Hattie Morahan and David Bamber. Details here, blog posts about the experience and the process here and here.

I was commissioned by Mslexia to write three fiction workshops to inspire writers entering their 2013 Short Story Competition. The topics are Beginnings, Character and Place and all three can be found here.

Last year I gave a talk at the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival about Trying New Positions - how to spice up your text life. Yes, the title is shameless, and yes it's essentially about narrative voice. With LOLcats.


Every second Tuesday of the month you can find me at the Liars' League short story night, where actors read brand new stories on a set theme. Join us for fantastic live fiction for only £5 on the door. More details at the Facebook group here.

We occasionally do special one-off events for various festivals and causes. Our last one was on Tuesday 23rd June at the Peckham Pelican, and the theme was Parent & Child, in aid of the CATS Foundation which raises funds to combat Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff Disease.

We did a special remix of our June theme, Weird & Wonderful, at the Literary Kitchen Festival on Tuesday June 17th, 2014, also at the Peckham Pelican


My blogI Have Never ... Every so often I blog about something I've never done (until then, obviously) - like see Jawsread Harry Potterexperience a hurricane etc.

My Facebook page. Like me! Or don't. I am quite nice, though.

- My Twitter: I'm @katydarbywriter - I tweet about writing, bad telly, amusing quotes, stories, books I'm reading, Radio 4 and any other stuff that occurs to me.

- My YouTube channel. Mostly readings. Good ones though.
And if you're not short of time, read on to find out more:


The best way to describe my novel is probably Metro's four-star review of it, reproduced below in full:

"A satisfying homage to Victorian sensation novels, melodramas and penny dreadfuls, Katy Darby's Oxford-set debut is a darkly enjoyable mix of romance and thriller.

It's narrated episodically as Edward Fraser recalls the momentous - and shocking - time when he shared rooms in college with a gifted medical student, Stephen Chapman.

When Edward meets Diana Pelham, with whom Stephen has fallen in love, he is horrified: events from his past lead him to believe that Diana is not who she appears to be.

Darby draws her readers into an exciting Gothic romp populated with villainous cads, wronged women, ruined livesand two stalwart friends whose relationship reaches crisis point because one of them has fallen in love.

Richly atmospheric and rattling away in fine style, it conjures 19th century high society and its sordid underbelly with verve and flair. Darby knows how to write a cracking novel that captures the reader's imagination."

If that's whetted your appetite, here's a video of me reading a saucy extract, followed by a violent scene (be still my beating heart!), at the King's Lynn Fiction Festival, and here's an interview with me about the novel (and Victorian fiction generally) on the Foyles website.

Jonathan Ruppin of Foyles also selected the book as one of his fiction picks for early 2012, calling it "a terrific slice of Victorian Gothic, full of roguery and romance, as students vow to help the fallen women of Oxford's seediest locales."


After my talk on the subject at Clapham Books, I wrote an article for Litro (combined with a book review of Georgian prostitutes' directory Harris's List), all about fallen women in literature.

Here's an extract from The Whores' Asylum on the excellent Untitled Books, if that piques your interest, and a video of me reading the same section. Or if for any reason you want to know which film femme fatale I'd like to be, look no further.


- There's an extremely nice write-up ("a thing of beauty .. a rare achievement") in The Independent on Sunday here.

The Sunday Times said: "Great panache ... a compelling tale of death, despair and obsession ... wildly and knowingly melodramatic but done with such energy and ingenuity that it's also tremendous fun."

The Guardian reckons it's great! (mostly) ... although also oddly categorises it as a thriller. I feel simultaneously flattered and perplexed. 

- The Express says: "Thrilling gothic romance ... recreates convincingly the colourful world of Victorian “sensation” novels and the stories of Sherlock Holmes ... shocking, exciting and gruesome ... read it now."

- Tina Jackson's 4-star review in METRO is printed above

The Whores' Asylum also appears in the Books section of METRO's 'Top 10 Things to do this weekend' (scroll down).

Emerald Street (the online sister publication of Stylist) has given it a lovely review here.

The Herald (Scottish newspaper) calls it "a consistently engaging and suspenseful Gothic melodrama."

- Top blog For Books' Sake gives it 4 stars: review here.

Bookmunch declares it "a stylish Gothic story" and calls my style "impeccable" (the cheque's in the post ...)

- Booksellers at Blackwell's in Oxford have "Read It, Loved It" (scroll down and click on my cover)

- And the novel has also got not one but two shout-outs on the self-explanatorially-named We Love This Book


I've got a newish blog, called I Have Never ...(after the infamous drinking game, but based on the principle of the brilliant Marcus Brigstocke-hosted Radio 4 programme I've Never Seen Star Wars).

It's partly about writing and partly about me doing things I've never done before (such as launch a bookplay Dungeons & Dragonsread Harry Potterwatch Jaws, etc.)

Check in every week or so for new stuff about my trip across America, Jack the Ripper tours, flash fiction workshops, literary festivals and whatever else I fancy doing that week.

About me has a short bio and contact information, plus more about the novel, including jacket blurb for the first edition and the paperback cover.

Writing has links to the book as well as to some of my short stories, poems, plays and readings which are online.
Other stuff comprises my teaching and editing, reviews by me (mostly theatre) and various random bits and pieces.
Events leads to readings, festivals, interviews, literary events and masterclasses I'm doing. It also links to Liars' League, the short story night I run.

*all illustrations and cover art are (c) Max Schindler

Let me know what you think of the website, my writing, whatever - my email is on the About me page, and I've hatched myself on Twitter as @katydarbywriter ...
(Or you can "like" me on Facebook, if you, um, like).

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