How Lancaster Equipped me to Write a Bestseller

26 November 2018 16:35
Penny Farmer

Penny Farmer talks about her time at Lancaster, her subsequent career in writing and the publishing of her recent bestselling book.

"I studied for my BA (Hons) at Lancaster between 1979 and 1982. My parents instilled in me a love of reading and my father, a BBC journalist, inspired me to pursue a career in journalism so English Literature was a natural choice.

I loved my three years at Lancaster – it was close enough to my Mancunian home, but far enough away to learn independence and forge my own character. I made some good life-long friends.

I have fond memories of working on the university newspaper and in my second year I was appointed editor. I also worked for the university radio station and, as such, I interviewed visiting musicians and bands such as Paul Weller and the Jam, Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Suggs from Madness.

They were all skills that I was to put to good use when, on leaving Lancaster, I applied to City University, London to study for a PGCE in Journalism. My career included working for a North London newspaper covering the Broadwater Farm Estate riots in Tottenham; followed by a short spell for a trade magazine before then moving to Health & Beauty Editor at Woman magazine and ultimately going freelance to combine having a family.

The backdrop to my career was, however, a very painful family tragedy. My 25-year old junior doctor brother and his girlfriend were found brutally murdered off the Guatemalan coast in 1978. It was an event that was to haunt my family for 38 years. In 2015, using social media, I tracked their killer down and it was this which was to lead to the arrest in 2016 of Silas Duane Boston – one of America’s most elusive and prolific serial killers.

My book Dead in the Water, published by John Blake in August, documents my family’s 38-year struggle for justice. An Amazon bestseller, it is a true crime story that is more terrifying and stranger than any crime fiction. My book can be found here: "

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