Crime authors spill their guts about writing...
This week: Robert Bryndza
Tell us about yourself.
Hello, my name is Robert Bryndza. I was born in the UK, and now live in Slovakia with my Slovak husband. I was originally an actor, which I used to combine with writing plays. Then the writing took over, and now I'm lucky enough to write full time. I started out writing romantic comedies, but I have just switched to writing crime thrillers.
My crime debut, The Girl In The Ice, is a Number 1 international bestseller, Wall Street Journal Bestseller, and USA Today Bestseller.
The follow up, The Night Stalker, was published on 2 June 2016.
How do you go about plotting your book?
At the beginning of a book, I write an outline. I didn’t used to do this, but I have found my first draft needs a structure, or I tend to go off on tangents and cut huge chunks that aren’t working. I’m now also signed with a publishing house, whereas I was self-published before so I write a plan to give my editor an idea of what book I am going to write.
As the draft progresses, and I get a hold on what the book is about, I keep a notebook by my bed and before I go to sleep I write a page of notes detailing what I should write the next day.
How long does your first draft take you?
I try not to let it take longer then two months. For me the first draft is all about getting it down on paper, as I’m never sure what the book is about until I get to the end.
Research: do you find it fascinating or laborious? How do you go about your research?
I find it fascinating, the further I get into a book, the more I research and the ideas flow. I read as much as I can. Google is my first point of call, and then I will use what I have found in search engines to lead me to books and articles on the subject. I also try and get out there and talk to people. Very early on, before I was published, I was writing a play about a guy who was an avid stamp collector. I went to an exhibition in London, in a creaky old hotel near Marble Arch and spent the day looking round and talking to people. It was so interesting and gave me so much material. The play never worked out, but I still have that research all tucked away in the hope I can use it one day.
How easy/hard was it to get your first break?
I started writing properly in 2009 and for me it was very tough. I submitted my first novel to every agent, and signed with one who was very enthusiastic. The book was then turned down by every major publishing house, the agent lost interest in me and we parted company. It was a tough time and I didn’t write for a while. At the beginning of 2012 I heard about self-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and I uploaded my
first novel and another I had written. I wasn’t an overnight success, for the first year I think I only sold a hundred copies, but I learnt so much and I started getting feedback from readers which spurred me on. When I released my third novel in 2013 things started to take off, so I kept writing and self- publishing my own novels. My husband dealt with all of the marketing through social media and hiring cover designers and an editor, so I was lucky to have someone doing that whilst I wrote. I now have seven self-published novels, which have been bestsellers in the UK and USA. I signed a three-book deal with Bookouture last year. It’s been a long hard journey but worth it. I have learnt so much and had the freedom to develop my writing style.
What's the best writing tip you've ever been given, and how has it influenced you?
Don’t get a right, get it writ. I can’t remember who said this to me, but I always think of this when I am starting a book. It is so important to get to the end of a first draft, then you can look at the story as a whole and make it better.
What book do you wish you had written?
I wish I had written The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Sue Townsend is one of my heros, and I think she was a brilliant writer.
Do you ever surprise yourself with what you've written?
Yes, I was surprised at how the second book in my Coco Pinchard series turned out. I sat down to write a romantic comedy all about Coco being dumped by her boyfriend Adam, and the aftermath of her being dumped. It then turned into a bit of a whodunit where Coco discovers that Adam has been arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and she goes about proving his innocence. It was totally unexpected and I am very proud of that book.
What's the best and worst thing about being an author?
The best thing is being able to work on your own, it’s also the worst thing. It can be lonely.
Which book or character are you most proud of creating and why?
I think I am most proud of The Girl in The Ice. I was very nervous about switching genres from romantic comedy to crime thriller and I am proud that the book has such strong reviews and feedback.
Describe your current work in progress in five words...
A chilling serial killer thriller!