I am thrilled to welcome ROBERT CRAVEN author of two books that are the first on my TBR pile. (I am having reading withdrawals but I am writing) Welcome Robert Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hello Catalina and thank you for the interview. My name is Robert Craven and I live in Rush, a seaside town North of Dublin city in Ireland. I’m the author of two novels: Get Lenin and its sequel Zinnman. As a short bio, I’m 46 and started writing about 10 years ago, before that between 1986-97, I was a bit of a journeyman bass player gigging around Dublin, playing everything from Blues to Latin American and everything in between. Over the years I kept gig diaries and built a novel around them, and touted it around a few publishers. Though unsuccessful with the pitches, I felt I was pretty good at it and thought it’d be a worthy pursuit. I work full-time and treat my writing as a step toward a fulfilling retirement, so with 2 novels under my belt, I’m well under way!
Here is a little about Robert’s Books
As the German troops approach Moscow during the Russian offensive of World War II, encountering ever more determined resistance as they go, what if they could snatch the greatest and most heroic symbol of the Soviet Revolution, the body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin?
Would Soviet morale collapse? Would Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union be defeated? Would Nazi Germany conquer the world?
This is the intriguing premise of Robert Craven’s ‘Get LENIN’ which pits the academic British spymaster Henry Chainbridge and the seductive Polish infiltrator Eva Molenaar against the elite of the German Third Reich and the wealth and ambition of American movie mogul Donald T. Kincaid who will amass yet another fortune for himself recording the Nazis’ triumphal seizure of Lenin himself.
The race is on, and if the Nazi plot succeeds the war and humanity itself may be lost.
In this assured and compelling sequel to ‘Get LENIN’, it is 1941, and the Allied intelligence team of Henry Chainbridge, Peter De Witte and Eva Molenaar are tasked by Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden personally with destroying a terrifying new weapon of mass destruction being developed jointly by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, using Chinese prisoners of war as guinea-pigs before giving it its first full test on the Russian Front.
As ever, Eva is the sultry Polish-born spy putting her body on the line at the heart of the enemy, Chainbridge is the reserved master strategist and De Witte is the suave, blind intelligence gatherer in love with Eva Molenaar, but does she still love him back or has she fallen for a German agent?
Now to the Q & A…….
1) Why Stout and not Lager? My guess as you share lovely posts of Guinness from time to time.
Wonderful question! Well I started out as a lager drinker, my first ‘pint’ was Tony Burke’s bar on Hill Street in Dublin City centre when I was about 17, but I met a fine guitarist who I gigging with, Tom Harte, who decided to educate (actually immerse me) in Guinness. After a pub crawl visiting the best purveyors of it one night I’d been converted!
2) Why Star Wars and not Star Trek? Again a guess through observation of your fscebook posts.
That’s an easy one! I’m of a generation who sat through that opening sequence in 1977 and the whole experience of going to the cinema turned on its head. My parents were pretty liberal when it came to the cinema, as a kid, I saw ‘The Sting’, ‘The Poseidon Adventure’, ‘JAWS’ (I learned a harsh lesson in pester power that day!) for my 10th birthday. Also, the 2 summers of 1976 and 1977 were exceptional and when you’re 10 or 11 they seemed to go on forever. Star Wars was an event, not a film and it’s hard for me to think of other films since that have matched it. That said I’m a Trekkie too – Jean Luc Picard was one of the best characters ever created and William Shatner would be one of my dream dinner guests.
3) What inspired you to write GET LENIN?
What inspired me to write Get Lenin? In one way, I turned 40 and decided it was a tick against the bucket list to write another novel, but this time get it published. I read a review by the Sunday Times of a book titled ‘Lenin’s Embalmers’ by Ilya Zbarsky about the Russians shipping the mausoleum out of Moscow in 1941 and thought it’d make a great story, and of course I had a film soundtrack going through my head as I wrote it. In the other way, I wanted to pay homage to the books I loved growing up reading and believe there’s always room for a good old-fashioned page turner.
4) Which character in your books would you like to be? I must say if the answer is Lenin’s corpse you need to pick a second one.
I love Henry Chainbridge, when I was developing him I heard the voice of an old friend and built the character around the voice. Henry’s in some way our inner hero. He’s cool, composed and clear in his thinking, the fact that he’s in his 50’s and embarking on a new adventure gives me scope to have him being a bit creaky at times! I am seriously looking at writing a book about his early years. I enjoy writing him, like writing a letter to an old school master you admire. He’s the quintessential gentleman with a Webley revolver always near to hand.
5) Any details you are willing to share on the writing process?
I think every writer has their own unique approach to the craft. The process for me involves reading up on history first and then building the scene and characters around this. It’s like sketching a theatre scene and you’re placing the characters on the stage. I write with visuals in my head.
6) Longhand or type?
I type, though if some pages don’t work, or aren’t flowing I’ll write the passage / passages out long hand to try to untangle the words.
7) Coffee or Tea?
Coffee, by the bucket load. I write mostly in the evenings, so I’m cutting down as I’d never sleep! I know its product placement, but we have a Nespresso Machine, when the first one gave up the ghost it was like a death in the family.
8) Perfect day in Dublin
A perfect day in Dublin – starts with the train out of Rush into Dublin city, Its 45 minutes along the coast at times and then you see the twin chimneys at Poolbeg power station and know it’s close. It’s then a walk up along the Liffey over O’Connell Bridge onto Grafton Street. Into Tower Records on Wicklow Street for a good browse and then into one of the coffee shops. Grab a newspaper and spend lunchtime in Kehoes Pub on South Anne Street with a Guinness and a toasted ham and cheese in the snug. Then through Stephen’s Green and grabbing a bench, just watch the world go by.
9) I talk to my characters and play with them; how do you develop your characters?
I develop my characters with a gesture they make or a habit. I observe people and watch how they behave on their own or with each other and start a picture in my head. Sometimes I draw the character out on a page to get a better idea of how they look. Sometimes I just recall some of the amazing people I’ve met on my journey so far. I’ve been very lucky with friends, girlfriends and family and sometimes they can populate the world in which you create. It’s all about observation and getting into ‘Character’.
10) We share July 2nd as a Birthday…although I might be a bit older 1959 was my year and we both like to research history. When I visited Ireland I felt very much at home. Have you ever visited Mexico? If not Ireland can there possibly be any other favorite country?
I have been to Cancun (but that’s not really Mexico), and I’d love to see Mexico proper. Still it was a great week I spent there, the Europeans were often asked to leave the nightclubs as the barmen couldn’t keep up us! I love France, especially Paris and putting my characters in Paris in the 1930’s was one of the most satisfying parts of the process of writing Get Lenin. If I win the Lottery, then an apartment near Opera would be a no-brainer! What part of Ireland did you go to and how did you find it?
I loved Ireland I was in Dublin although we stayed in Malahide? I think that was the name and we also went to an AMAZING golf resort called the K Club. My son turned 5 there it is one of the fondest memories as a parent of his early childhood. I would love to visit Ireland for a full summer and get to see as much as possible! Thanks for asking.
11) Zinnman is a continuation of Get Lenin will this be a trilogy?
Zinnman evolved from the final chapter of Get Lenin, a bit like a relationship break-up, I still clung to the characters and felt they deserved another outing. Once I finished Zinnman I started the next instalment and yes a trilogy has developed. Obviously there’s a commercial aspect to it, so to be honest I haven’t received a contract for the 3rd novel. But it’s a hugely satisfying achievement whatever happens!
12) Have you any other characters ready for future books?
I have a character created in the third book, a German spymaster and I have an idea of using him in the Weimar era, but I haven’t gone anything further than giving him a ‘thumbnail’ sketch. It’s a thorny subject, the notion of ‘the good German’ from that whole era. Maybe develop him as a detective but Jewish, I think it’d make a fascinating read.
13) Anything you were just bursting at the seams to be asked and no-one got around to it?
The one question I’ve yet to be asked is ‘Have you ever regretted writing and getting published?’ and it’s a question I’d love to ask another author. We spend years doing this, we see the book in our hands and everything in our lives has altered forever because of it. In the words of Joe Walsh ‘Everybody’s so different, I’m still the same.’
My answer to this is ‘yes, there are times when I wished I’d never thought up the name Eva Molenaar. But then I do love her! And she’s worth it!’
Thanks Robert! I hope someday I get to interview you face to face either here in South Florida or in a great pub in Dublin either way I will order Guinness.
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