June 12

Book Chains – David Young (1st Link)

Today I am kicking off a new feature which, for reasons I hope will become apparent, I am calling Book Chains.

I love when I have the chance to welcome a guest to Grab This Book and I really enjoy reading (and planning) author Q&A posts.  I decided I wanted to try to have more guests come and visit my blog – but I am never sure who to invite and sometimes asking good questions is tricky.  So I have decided to put my new feature into the hands of my guests.

Book Chains will be a series of author Q&A’s – with a twist.

I am starting my ‘chain’ today and I am joined Stasi Child author David Young.  David kindly agreed to join me for a chat and I drew up a series of questions for him.  My last question to David will be to ask him to nominate who I should approach to interview next.  David was also asked to provide me with one question that I should ask the person he nominated.

My challenge will be to contact the nominated person and ask if they would also be willing to join me for a chat – this will keep my chain going.

With no idea where I will end up, I start with a question for David Young:

Stasi Child 2First, for those that have yet to read Stasi Child, do you want to do a sales pitch?

I hope the book has reasonably broad appeal and it’s had some modest success – reaching the top 20 official paperback chart and being longlisted for two major book awards, the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year and the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger. It’s part police procedural, part thriller and part historical novel with two strong female protagonists. One is my main detective character, Oberleutnant Karin Müller, who’s the youngest and only female head of a murder squad in communist East Germany, where the novel is set in the mid-1970s. She’s tasked with investigating the gruesome murder of a teenage girl – found by the Berlin Wall, apparently having attempted to escape into the East, while many others were risking their lives trying to get out. But throughout the book she has to work with – and against – rival factions of the notorious secret police, the Stasi. A second, parallel, narrative features a teenage girl incarcerated in a brutal reform school. Eventually the two stories converge on the slopes of northern Germany’s highest mountain, the legendary Brocken – where witches danced on the summit in Goethe’s Faust.

What should we know about David Young (other than he has written a book that we should all buy)?

My only other claim to fame is having our single played (once) by Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music when I was in an indiepop band (first The Candy Twins, and later Tender Objects). I was the singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist (it was just a side project to distract me from a dull day job) but I gave it up and turned to writing novels when I finally accepted what people had been telling me for years – that I couldn’t sing. If you want a laugh, here’s the official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHuG06lhwd0

One of my favourite elements of Stasi Child was the setting, both location and the time, why did you choose to write about 1970’s Berlin?

About eight years ago, I managed to blag The Candy Twins a short tour of Germany, mainly on the back of a helpful quote from Edwyn Collins (of Orange Juice and A Girl Like You etc). Most of the venues were in the east – and I was amazed about how much of the DDR was still evident (and it still is, though fast disappearing). I read Anna Funder’s Stasiland during the tour. So when I had to write an exercise on setting for my MA in Creative Writing at City University, I chose East Berlin in the DDR period. And then my tutor, Northern Irish crime writer Claire McGowan, encouraged me to turn it into a novel. I opted for the 1970s simply to give me enough years before the fall of the Wall to write a series!

Will there be a follow-up to Stasi Child?

Yes! Bonnier Zaffre have two more books under contract. Book 2 is due in February 2017. It’s set a few months after Stasi Child, in one of East Germany’s ‘model’ socialist cities – Halle-Neustadt – where there were no street names (actually, four roads did have names) and addresses were just a row of digits. My plan is to write a book per year up to the fall of the Wall, but it depends how well the first three sell (and when I mentioned this idea to my publishers they looked aghast!)

Through the wonders of technology I was able to see you chatting with some of my blogger friends at Crimefest. Was that a fun weekend?  Are there any highlights you could share?

It was interesting, though I’m far from a natural networker and can’t hold my drink – so I passed on the bar sessions that lasted through the night till 6.30am. So probably the highlight was talking to the bloggers, many of whom have been very supportive of Stasi Child. It was great to meet some I hadn’t met before but had Twitter-messaged: for example Raven Crime Reads and Christine from Northern Crime.

David YoungI’ve seen you pictured in a Hull City shirt so let’s talk football. Has it been a good footy year as a Hull fan?

We’ve been promoted back into the Premier League and I got to see us at Wembley for the fourth time in nine years, a pretty impressive record for a club that’s spent most of its history in the second and third tiers of the English league. So, from that point of view, yes. Unfortunately – despite promotion – there’s a poisonous atmosphere surrounding Hull City at the moment, a hangover from the owner’s ludicrous (IMHO) attempt to rebrand us Hull Tigers, which made us the laughing stock of football. The owners lost that battle but have now split the fanbase again by abolishing season tickets, and introducing a membership scheme which offers no concessions to juniors or senior citizens, much to many fans’ anger. So Wembley was a strange affair. We sold out for the FA Cup final and our first play-off final. This time, understandably, there were swathes of empty seats.

Some quick fire questions:

  • What was the last book you read?

Fellow Bonnier Zaffre author Simon Booker’s Without Trace.

  • Which one book (not your own) would you recommend?

Alone in Berlin (aka Every Man Dies Alone) by Hans Fallada

  • Favourite film?

Hmm. Can’t think of one (I prefer crime series on TV – eg Spiral/Engrenages), but did really enjoy Bridge of Spies.

  • Which one concert/show do you wish you had been able to attend?

Any featuring the original Orange Juice line-up

  • Drink of choice?

Cheap French Rosé – we stock up on Pays d’Hérault from Carrefour Calais at less than £1.50 a pop.

  • Sandy Beaches/City Break or Great Outdoors holiday?

Sandy Beaches – especially the Greek islands.


And finally the Book Chain question to send me on my next adventure…

Can you suggest an author I should ask to join me next to keep my Q&A Chain going? 

Once you have nominated someone I also need a question to ask them on your behalf.

My fellow City University Crime Thriller MA graduate Rod Reynolds.
David’s question is currently redacted. Mr Reynolds you can expect a DM….


My most sincere thanks goes to David Young.  I read (and loved) Stasi Child and you can read my review here.

Stasi Child is published by Twenty 7 and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stasi-Child-Chilling-Thriller-Oberleutnant/dp/1785770063/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465765962&sr=8-1&keywords=stasi+child

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Posted June 12, 2016 by Gordon in category "Guests