You can tell Don Farmer had fun while writing his new thriller, “Deadly News.”
The longtime Atlanta broadcaster, retired from a career that included stints at Channel 2 WSB-TV and CNN, works in a passage that mentions his close friend, the late Braves announcer Skip Caray (along with Chip and Harry). There’s also a character who bears a strong resemblance to his buddy, fellow retired broadcaster Neal Boortz.
“We have a salty, over-the-top radio host who will be fairly recognizable,” Farmer said. “We’ve known Neal and he’s been a friend of ours forever. He’s a good sport.”
Written with his wife, Chris Curle, “Deadly News” is set in Atlanta just as the city prepares to host the Olympics for the second time. Days before the Games get underway, Atlanta must deal with a sensational murder case. The book pokes fun at both the media and authorities as everyone searches for answers.
“There is a lot of Atlanta in this book,” said Curle, also retired from a broadcast career. She and Farmer now live in Marco Island, Fla., but will be back in Atlanta for some book signings and the AJC Decatur Book Festival.
“We started thinking about a book like this before we retired,” Farmer said. “We kept pretty good notes along the way.”
Added Curle, “So many nutty things happened. We said, ‘We can’t just run around telling these things. Let’s put it in a novel.’”
The pair drew upon their extensive broadcast experience to include thorough descriptions of what goes on behind the scenes during a television broadcast, and to paint vivid portraits of the oddballs who populate newsrooms.
Here's a link to a clip of Farmer kicking off the evening news one night in 1987. Check out the snazzy graphics!
Farmer’s son, current Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer, helped bring them up to speed with modern-day gadgetry.
“We left daily television news in 1997,” Curle said. “Technology improves every second. Justin helped us with technology.”
"I asked my Dad his motivation for writing 'Deadly News.' He said, 'The process is just so much fun,'" Justin Farmer said. "For all of us who've ever yelled back at the TV while watching the news, 'Deadly News' is a valuable, humorous look at our business. It's fiction, no question, but Dad and Chris have the experience and savvy to make it fascinating."
Don Farmer, who considers his time covering the Civil Rights movement the most memorable work of his career said he doesn’t miss the daily grind of broadcast journalism.
“When presidential politics comes up I get a little itchy,” he said. “That was really intense.”
But he said broadcasting seems more challenging in this era of the 24/7 news cycle.
“I really admire the people on television in Atlanta or elsewhere,” Farmer said. “They’ll have to ad lib for two or three minutes with no script.”
For now he’s content writing fiction that draws upon his days in the anchor chair, while watching his son occupy the hot seat.
“His chair is the same place that mine was on the set,” Don Farmer noted. “We enjoy watching him.”
“Deadly News” isn’t his first book; he co-authored “Roomies: Tales From the Worlds of TV News and Sports,” with Skip Caray. Farmer and Curle initially thought about writing another nonfiction book when tackling the Atlanta media landscape but thought better of it.
Joked Curle: “We’d be shot!”
Book signing events for "Deadly News," will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Eagle Eye Book Shop, 2076 N. Decatur Rd in Decatur (404-486-0307, www.eagleeyebooks.com); and at 6 p.m. Aug. 29 at FoxTale Book Shoppe, 105 East Main Street, #138 in Woodstock (770-516-9989, foxtalebookshoppe.com). Farmer and Curle also will appear at 10:40 a.m. Aug. 31 at the AJC Decatur Book Festival's Emerging Authors Pavilion, at West Ponce de Leon Ave. and Clairmont Rd. For more information about the authors see their website.