Today I’m VERY happy to be having a chat to David Young all about his follow up novel to Stasi Child, the pretty brilliant Stasi Wolf.
RIGHT so (hey I’m actually going to write a review to go along with these, just mere weeks after reading it – I must be unwell) but let’s get right to the heart of things. The main premise for Stasi Wolf is emotionally hard hitting and could be said to make for traumatic reading, but as last time is utterly gripping. Tell me a bit about what made you go with that central theme. Without spoilers. It is a challenge.
There were three things that fed into it. Two real-life murder cases, and also a feeling that I wanted to explore the after effects of WW2 on East Germany, particularly on women as my main detective protagonist is female. The idea of babies going missing from a hospital was inspired by a real-life case of multiple infanticide at a Leipzig hospital where the Stasi took over the investigation to keep it secret, and avoid alarming the public. Little was known about this until last month when it featured in a German TV documentary, so I was slightly ahead of the game (for once!).
Karin goes through the mill in this instalment – is a very different person at the end of it, her story arc was one of the best parts of Stasi Wolf for me – how do you see her progress and what might be next for her?
I think she becomes a different character quite quickly in this book. She’s forced to impose herself — at the start she doesn’t have Tilsner as her crutch. She learns a lot more about her family background too — some of it quite shocking. I suspect her story arc may not be as dramatic in Book 3. She is still part of the system. Her every move will be a compromise. But there are more shocks in store as the series develops. Some characters will reappear from Stasi Child through the series — some of whom you might have thought you’d said goodbye to.
The historical aspects as ever are brilliantly done – how much research and hair clutching goes into making it so authentic?
I do carry out extensive research, and I enjoy it. But my books aren’t fictionalisation of real stories, unlike some historical fiction. I use real stories as springboards and then extrapolate them. Hopefully the overall framework has an air of authenticity — that’s what I strive for. Some East Germans who’ve read the books agree, some don’t! But then people’s own memories of the GDR vary hugely depending on their own experiences. At the end of the day, my stories are fiction, so I don’t pull my hair out over it. I hope anyone reading my books would be inspired to seek out the real history, but no-one should accept a novel as historical fact without questioning it.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
Thinking up the story and then writing the first draft. It’s very exciting creating this new world. I hate the editing process — although I recognise its necessity and value. I long for the time when an editor comes back without any suggested changes. It’ll never happen!
Finally, can you tell us anything about what is next for you?
I’ve just signed a new three book deal, although one of those is the third book from the first deal, renegotiated at a higher rate thanks to the success of Stasi Child. I’m about to start a redraft of Book 3, which takes Müller to the far east of the GDR, on the Polish border. And I’m researching and then writing Book 4, which again springs from horrific events in WW2.
Thanks lovely David – I’ll have that blog post from you soon right? 😉
You haven’t asked me for one! As soon as you do, it will be there by return of post (if you believe that, you’ll believe anything!)
About the Book:
East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.
But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.
Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . .
Stasi Wolf is just brilliant – and rather emotional to be honest – first of all our favourite (well mine anyway) Karin gets all sorts of life hiccups thrown at her here and during all that she is on the trail of some missing children – but in her world things are never straight forward with the Stasi looking over her shoulder at every turn.
The writing in these is pitch perfect – engaging, historically authentic and I think it is the subtle nuances of the scene setting that make these so addictive – in Stasi Wolf perhaps even more than in Stasi Child because you’ve already absorbed some of the history and have an inkling at what our characters are going to face. David Young paces things brilliantly, throws some real curveballs your way, all the while tugging at the heartstrings with a heart breaker of a tale and an incredibly emotive ending.
If you want tough, clever historical crime novels these are the books for you.
Find out more here
Follow David on Twitter here.
East Berlin, 1975
When Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the wall, she imagines she’s seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other: the girl was trying to escape – but from the West.
Müller is a member of the national police, but the case has Stasi written all over it. Karin is tasked with uncovering the identity of the girl, but her Stasi handlers assure her that the perpetrators are from the West - and strongly discourage her asking questions.
The evidence doesn’t add up, and Muller soon realises the crime scene has been staged. But this is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Muller doesn’t realise that the trail she’s following will lead her dangerously close to home . . .