Interview with Robert Young

Who are your favorite authors?
That probably changes at any given moment but I certainly read every book Mo Hayder does and most of Mark Billingham's. The two Cromwell books by Hilary Mantel were excellent and I've very much enjoyed a few of her other titles. David Peace is a pretty incredible writer and I try to read most of Anthony Beevor's stuff too. Also devoured all of George R R Martin's Game of Thrones series. Tolkien and also Philip Pullman are fabulous authors as well. Stop me now or I'll just keep going.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I actually quite enjoy my day job, though that's not always been the case. Mostly it's the wife and kids. You don't get much choice in the matter with three young children in the house. That's a bit of a humdrum answer though. I find the prospect of writing, the excitement and buzz of it, as well as finding people to read and, most important, enjoy what I write keep me going.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Most of it is filled with the family. Downtime will include reading a lot and watching TV or movies, but I tend to go for what you might call 'quality drama' rather than reality shows or the like. Breaking Bad, Sopranos, The Wire for example. Movies include a real mix of stuff too lengthy to get into here, but I like a drink too. Found a real interest in Real Ale of late. Perhaps I'm getting old.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Some are authors I look out for, sometimes I'll browse a bookshop and then find the ebook version, sometimes from deals or recommendations.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I don't remember in detail, but I do recall in primary school something of an epic called 'School Trek'. My first serious effort was called 'The Seance' which I began at about fifteen years old and never finished. I still have the original pages where I typed it out on my Dad's old Singer typewriter. Gatecrasher came about after I started out to re-write The Seance back in 2001 and found myself going in entirely a different direction.
What is your writing process?
I'm not sure I have one. With Gatecrasher I started out with no real plan and ended up editing and re-writing a lot. Adrenaline was much more planned and disciplined and about halfway through I began attempting a '1k-a-day' approach where I tried to sit down each day and do 1,000 words. Not always possible but it really got me going. It was a great habit to get. Generally, I try to have an idea of where I'm headed, stick to the general route, but see where the writing takes me and what occurs to me as I type.
How do you approach cover design?
With Gatecrasher and with Bitter Sweet I had a simple approach in that I had in mind want I wanted, and got someone else to do it! My wife is really good with that sort of thing and has created the covers for all three titles so far and I'll be asking her to do the same for my new book shortly too.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
This isn't definitive, but a pretty good go for now. And in no order.
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller. To an 18 year old who read a little too much horror, this really opened my eyes to what a good book really was. A classic.
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel. Reading tastes have changed down the years but this was a class apart from anything I'd read in a long time. So good it almost puts you off writing. All you can do is admire the skill of the author and lose yourself in it.
The Treatment - Mo Hayder. I read her first book and enjoyed it, though I'm not really into detective/crime fiction. The follow up was one of the must gripping books I have ever read and the closest I've come to that old reviewer's favourite superlative, 'unputdownable'.
Stalingrad - Anthony Beevor. I enjoy a lot of non-fiction and this was very highly regarded so I decided to try it. Utterly compelling, a really gripping narrative structure that is unusual for a non-fiction work.
Lord of the Rings - J R R Tolkien. I'm cheating here as it's three books but I bought a single volume edition so I'm counting it! Extraordinary in its scope and execution, it isn't just the incredible depth of imagination or the vast and epic breadth of it but the exceptional writing of Tolkien that make for an immense reading experience.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle Paperwhite. Haven't tried the others and I cannot deal with the screen glare of using a tablet or smartphone to read. The backlight on the Kindle also means I can read in bed with the lights out and not disturb anyone.
When did you first start writing?
7 or 8 I guess. Was always very fond of writing stories in primary school, far more than anything else at school. Probably started writing 'seriously' at about 15.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My most recent novel is about a man who wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of what put him there. He finds himself changed in ways that he cannot comprehend or believe and then discovers someone else effected in the same way, but a very different person indeed. Figuring all this out leads him into wilderness and isolation before culminating in a shattering, climactic showdown.

I've also just completed the first draft of the sequel to Gatecrasher, which will require some careful editing before it sees the light of day. I thought Gatecrasher would be a standalone story, but increasingly I got the feeling there was unfinished business with some of the characters and a story took shape from there.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It's fun. More than that, it is exhilirating when you really hit stride and find yourself producing precisly what you wanted to produce. Often it can be a struggle and what you get down on the page isn't quite what you had hoped. But when you'reflying and you can't get it down fast enough, keep finding the bes, most expressive ways to articulate yourself, that's a real thrill.
What are you working on next?
I'll be doing a top-to-bottom edit on the new book Headhunter and am considering a re-edit of Gatecrasher in light of some of the feedback. Next big project will be an Adrenaline sequel but I also have a couple of other ideas that I've been stewing over. A kidnap mystery type story and one based around a loner-paranoid type and a load of conspiracy theories. I like the idea with conspiracy theories that they're sort of self-fuelling in that if you find 'proof', that backs up your theory, but anything that goes against it proves there's a cover-up, which also backs up your theory. You can't lose. I find that level of catch-22 paranoia intriguing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My halting attempts to get published had stalled my writing in general and then technology arrived with the outlet to self publish. I figured that having written a book, I might as well self publish and at least if a few people read and liked the book, that would be more than I'd expected. As it turned out it has really spurred on me on to writing more than I imagined I would and to have had some really delightful reviews (and of course, some not so delightful!). It has made me realise that if you want it, you can do it.
Published 2015-01-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.