Today is my stop on the blog tour for Stasi Wolf, the second in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series, by David Young. I haven’t gotten around to reading these books YET but I have a great guest post from David for you all today. First though, here is all the bookish information:
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 out now and you can order your copy HERE.
About the author:
David Young was born near Hull and – after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree – studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic specialising in Modern History. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism with provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and the BBC’s international newsrooms where he led news teams for the World Service radio and World TV.
David was a student on the inaugural Crime Thriller MA at City University – winning the course prize in 2014 for his debut novel Stasi Child – and now writes full-time in his garden shed. In his spare time, he’s a keen supporter of Hull City AFC.
Guest post from David Young:
Writing 10,000 words a day like Michael Crichton – is it possible?
I’ve always preferred to write first drafts reasonably quickly. The first version of Stasi Child was written in about two months, as I was recovering from a fairly serious DVT in my leg, sustained after a cycle accident and then getting dehydrated. Sitting at a computer typing was almost certainly not the best recuperation from a DVT – gentle exercise is much better – but the Warfarin they give you for thinning the blood was making me feel like I had flu all the time, and writing managed to take my mind off it.
My latest novel Stasi Wolf was a slower affair – mainly because my agent suggest I stop when I was about a third of the way through, as that’s when we secured the initial deal for the series, and he was worried in case Bonnier, my publishers, wanted me to take the novel in a different direction.
After that, I found it difficult to get going again so the process was elongated.
But last summer, when I was about to embark on my Book 3, I started to wonder how many words a day some top authors manage to get down.
My upper limit for the first two books was about 5,000 words – but this was achieved only occasionally on days when I felt I had to catch up with my schedule (normally I aim to write 2,500 words a day – so 12,500 in a five-day week – with the knowledge that with a clear eight weeks that will be more than enough for a novel, and a few days off to boot).
I wrote part of Stasi Wolf while doing the Faber Academy Intermediate Fiction course, as a kind of refresher after my MA in Creative Writing at City University London. One week, tutor and author Joanna Briscoe (a highly recommended teacher!) challenged us to set ourselves word counts. Most fellow students were offering between one and two thousand words before the next session a week later. I wanted to push myself, so offered ten thousand. Lots of the others laughed – but I managed it.
So I was slightly aghast when planning Book 3 to read that Michael Crichton’s word count was 10,000 words a day! Now whether he really did this, or how often he did it, I have no idea.
But it seemed to me an unachievable figure.
Nevertheless, I was intrigued to see if I could do it.
I managed to free up five days in a row to visit my caravan on the Isle of Wight, which I specifically bought as a writing retreat with the advance for Stasi Child, with the intention of carrying out a kind of medical experiment on myself. Could I match Crichton’s alleged word count over a five-day period?
And before I went, I carefully plotted out the third novel in my Karin Müller series – where she and her sidekick Werner Tilsner are investigating the mysterious death of a teenage boy in the very eastern part of East Germany, on the border with Poland.
So I had a road map for each chapter to the end of the book.
The first day I got to the van at about 9am after an early ferry, and immediately sat at the computer and started to bash things out. I decided to break the day into three thirds – only having a short meal break after each 3,333 word chunk (with one extra word to type before bedtime).
That first day I reached the first milestone by about 2pm, and allowed myself about twenty minutes for lunch. By around 7pm I’d chalked off 2/3rds of the target and rewarded myself with another twenty-minute break.
I finally typed the 10,000th word at around midnight, and went straight to bed. After around seven hours sleep, it was breakfast and start again.
I managed to achieve this for four days in a row. So 40,000 words. The fifth day, I had to catch a ferry back to the mainland, but 5,000 more were written. So 45,000 words in just under five days. I felt utterly exhausted – personal hygiene had gone out of the window – but knew I’d broken the back of the novel (which was around 15,000 words in when I started my marathon).
The next week, I managed to get away again for another three days, and clocked up another 25,000 – right to the end of the manuscript. A total of 85,000 words, written over a total period of 19 days from start to finish (but with more than half of that coming in that five-day burst).
So, was the result a complete mess? It did need a lot of polishing and tinkering before I felt it was good enough to send to my editor and agent. They’ve got suggestions as to how it can be further improved – but then that’s always the case. Overall, I felt it was a worthwhile exercise. I’d proved a point to myself. Now I know that if I’m ever fortunate enough to land deals for two different series, publishing at six monthly intervals, I would feel confident about meeting the necessary deadlines. And for most authors, including myself, that’s the only way you’re ever going to have any chance of paying off the mortgage.
Huge thanks to David Young, Emily Burns and Bonnier Zaffre for having me on the blog tour.
Make sure to follow the tour: