Today’s victim in my 20 Questions For feature is the rather lovely (occasionally lovely depends what he’s currently being forced to do by random book reviewers) David Young, author of the brilliant Stasi Child. Don’t worry I was nice….
So the book you wrote is Stasi Child. Personally I thought it was pretty good. Ok you know? You can probably sell it better. 5 sentences to tell us about it – go!
Stasi Child is a historical crime thriller set in communist East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, or GDR) in the mid 1970s. Its main protagonist is Oberleutnant Karin Müller, who’s the youngest and only female head of a murder squad in the GDR. When a teenage girl’s mutilated body is found next to the Berlin Wall, Müller and her team are tasked with finding the girl’s identity – but are told they mustn’t challenge the official version of events: namely, that the girl had been shot by western guards while trying to break into the East. Keeping tabs on them at every turn is the GDR’s infamous secret service – the Stasi. I think it’s got broad appeal – not just to fans of Child 44 etc – and it was longlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and is on the shortlist for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger.
I’m asking the cheese question early in this one. Favourite cheese. Try and stick to one – I’ve had a few interviewees banging on about cheese for ages…
Goat’s cheese. Or should that be goats’ cheese? Or goats cheese without an apostrophe? Are they the same thing? Which goat or goats, if any, owns the cheese? These are the things that trouble writers …
How do you feel about reviewers who read your book then don’t review it for a year or so? (She says from her place of safety hiding in a cupboard)
I feel that they will be so ashamed they’ll be guaranteed to give the next in the series, Stasi Wolf (due February 2017), five stars whether they like it or not, and that they’ll review it in a timely fashion.
Are you an efficient type when it comes to the writing? Routine or just total chaos?
Most of the time I sit daydreaming, or checking Hull City message boards on the internet. But when I do kick myself into action, I enjoy immersing myself and writing quickly. And I am very much a planner. So if I have a draft to write, I’ll set aside a couple of months, stick to a daily word count, and arm myself with a chapter plan for the whole book.
What is the best night out you’ve had this year (so far)
Although this sounds slightly narcissistic, it was my own launch in February. I pushed the boat out, booked a 80s/90s cover band, and was dancing (badly) on my own until the drummer forgot to switch off his smoke machine, thus setting off the fire alarm and bringing a premature end to the proceedings.
Last really stupid thing you did.
I have a habit of doing stupid things. The most recent was admitting to some other authors on my imprint that I wrote the first draft of my Book 3 in 19 days – at one point doing 50k words in a week. This was then revealed at a book festival attended by my editor, who I’m sure wasn’t impressed.
What are you writing at the moment? (Yes yes APART from answers to these questions)
Trying to knock the Book 3 draft mentioned above into shape. I’m also toying with an idea for a stand alone historical novel based on an 18th century sex scandal.
How many Crime writers do you reckon it takes to screw in a lightbulb?
I have no idea, but once you find some that can, please send them to me as I have three in my kitchen that need replacing.
Stuck on a desert island (yes one day we may all actually get stuck on a desert island at least we will all know who to cuddle up to and who to stay away from) what skillset do you have that would help you survive?
I’m very good at lying in the sun, doing nothing. This will ensure I get plenty of vitamin D.
On that note who would you like stuck with you – you can go for just good company but might be worth considering what they would bring to the table. You can take 3 of them..
My wife and two children (I had to say that because I’m in trouble for not including a dedication to them in Stasi Child).
Last book you read that you genuinely loved…
The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by my Bonnier Zaffre stablemate Lesley Richardson. It deserves to be winning prizes.
One thing that irrationally irritates you.
Lots and lots of things irritate me. My current bugbear is barking dogs in neighbouring gardens and owners who claim dogs can’t be trained not to bark inappropriately. Although I would contend it’s a perfectly rational irritation.
One thing about you that you reckon irrationally irritates others.
Which fictional or real life person would YOU elect as Prime Minister if it was solely down to you…and why?
I wouldn’t have a Prime Minister. I’m in favour of a benevolent dictatorship with me in charge.
Ok you can talk about Stasi Child again now but briefly. What would you say to that person over there who is considering reading it?
My usual trick if I see anyone anywhere near it in a bookshop or supermarket is to point it out, and offer to sign it if they buy it. This has worked two or three times.
Assuming the safety of friends and family and cats and dogs and any living thing is there anything you would risk re-entering a burning building for?
My proof copy of Stasi Child. It was the first time I’d held it in my hands and it’s got a great minimalist cover.
One piece of life advice you live by…
That which does not kill you makes you stronger.
A cat or a dog person?
Cat (see barking above). Although since our two (unrelated) cats died within days of each other, both aged seventeen, I haven’t had the heart to replace them. And that was ten years ago …
Last time you laughed until you cried. Or almost cried if you are not a crier..
My wife and I were with one of her best friends and husband in a restaurant. She (best friend of wife, who like me at that time also worked for the BBC) said something – probably something about my commitment to the BBC (or lack of) – which had me choking on my food with laughter. I had to rush out of the restaurant, and was doubled up on the pavement unable to breathe. Sadly, that friend has since died at a tragically young age. She was a lovely woman and an irreplaceable loss to all who knew her.
How much do you hate me right now?
Less than when you didn’t review Stasi Child on time.
Great I can come out of the cupboard…
Read my review of Stasi Child (I did EVENTUALLY do it!) HERE
Find out more here
Follow David on Twitter here.
You can purchase Stasi Child by clickety clicking right HERE