Today I’m getting to know G D Abson as part of the tour for his new novel “Motherland” Details about the book follow.
Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..
Motherland is a gritty crime thriller set in modern Russia. My heroine, Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova, has been side-lined, working domestic violence cases, until she’s given the opportunity to look into the disappearance of a Swedish student. What appears at first to be a kidnapping then turns into a darker, more complex tale.
Natalya Ivanova spent her teenage years in Germany and returned to Saint Petersburg as an outsider. In the West we might think of her as a bloody-minded detective but in Russia she’s viewed with suspicion as an idealist. Despite Natalya’s rank, she’s often undermined by subordinates who don’t take her seriously; in turn, she treats them with disdain for being the corrupt chauvinists they are.
Where did you grow up and what was family life like?
I was born in my grandmother’s house in County Durham and grew up on army bases in Singapore and Germany then spent the latter part of my childhood on a North-East council estate.
Family life was chaotic, my parents were always on the brink of divorce, and we were broke — we hid behind the sofa when the rent man called. My job was to muzzle the dog to stop it from barking and giving us away.
Academic or creative at school?
A geek with a short attention span. I couldn’t understand the most basic concepts at school and was often caught staring out of a window or getting told off for not listening. I was a voracious reader though, and that’s what got me through.
First job you *really* wanted to do?
This. I had ideas about wanting to be a defence lawyer or working for the UN when I was younger, but nothing could touch the thrill I had this morning when I opened a package full of advance Motherland copies.
Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?
At school but the idea was as ludicrous as becoming an astronaut. I only started in earnest after a mid-life crisis when my girlfriend at the time, who had studied English at Oxford, encouraged me to write.
Who are your real life heroes?
Sergei Magnitsky. He was beaten to death in prison after uncovering a $230 million tax fraud in Russia. He refused to recant and was beaten and tortured for a year before he was killed. After his death, the Putin regime launched Russia’s first posthumous trial and found him guilty of the very crime he had uncovered.
Russian journalists, human rights campaigners and politicians taking on the Kremlin – dozens of them have been murdered over the last two decades and I don’t know how they have the courage to keep going.
Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?
As a last minute favour I was asked to do the curtains for a production of Brigadoon. There were four hundred people in the audience and about twenty women wearing Scottish country dancing outfits ready to go on for the opening number. When the orchestra began playing, the dancers trouped past me and I began pulling on the rope to open the curtains.
After opening barely four feet, the curtains jammed. A few dancers were visible to the audience, the rest were continuing with the routine, jumping up and down and whooping while giving me filthy glares. And no matter how much I pulled on that rope it wouldn’t budge.
At this point Steve, the stage manager, took over. He closed the curtains, the music stopped, and the dancers came off. Everyone got ready again, the orchestra began playing the opening bars, the dancers trouped out, and this time Steve handled the curtains. He grabbed the rope and began pulling, neither of us realising the rope had coiled around my foot. As the rope knotted, Steve felt some resistance and heaved on it with all his strength. My leg shot 6ft in the air and the production was stopped a second time while they untangled my foot. I was never asked to help again.
DIY expert or phone a friend?
DIY amateur who should phone a friend but pride stops him.
Sun worshipper or night owl?
An insomniac – I’d be a night owl if I didn’t wake up at 5am
A book that had you in tears.
A Thousand Splendid Suns. I was a mess after that book.
A book that made you laugh out loud.
I’m not one for funny books but Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae can always squeeze a titter out of me.
One piece of life advice you give everyone
Don’t worry about the things you can’t change. Like most pieces of advice, it says more about the person giving it – I’m a worrier.
About the book:
MOTHERLAND is the first in a gripping series of crime novels set in contemporary St Petersburg, featuring sharp and intriguing policewoman, Captain Natalya Ivanova.
When the daughter of a Swedish billionaire goes missing in St Petersburg after a night out with a friend, Captain Natalya Ivanova is assigned the case but nothing is as straightforward as it seems.
Dark, violent and insightful, Motherland twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion
Follow the Tour!