Name Robert Craven
Where are you from
I was born in Manchester, England, but have been living in Ireland since 1979.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I live in a town called Rush along the east coast of Ireland. I am married and work for a living. I left school at 16 and worked for many years in industry. In 1984, I bought my first bass guitar and became a working musician in the Dublin pub scene.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My first novel ‘Get Lenin’ is being re-launched this weekend, it’s published by MKSP. It’s available as a kindle download.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing around the late 1980’s, I was inspired by Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. I entered a horror short story competition and though not winning the first prize, did get my piece ‘The Chase’ published. It was an amazing moment.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When Get Lenin was published and I held the paperback in my hands.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I read a book review for the book ‘Lenin’s Embalmers’ by Ilya Zbarsky. Stalin ordered Lenin be moved after Germany’s invasion in 1941. I thought a German unit tasked with intercepting Lenin would be a great premise
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to keep dialogue short and punchy and try to ‘paint’ the picture through the chapters. I am getting a bit of mentoring at the moment and I can see a more refined style appearing in my writing now.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I didn’t come up with the title until the end – when I read through ‘Get Lenin’ just jumped out.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The power of propaganda and how even today, the message (or excuse) to go to war can be fashioned to suit an agenda. It’s a cliché, but the saying ‘the first victim of war is truth’ is as relevant today as it was 80 years ago.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I did as much research as possible; my source material was Antony Beevor’s ‘Stalingrad.’, Richard Overy’s ‘Russia’s War’ and Alan Clarke’s ‘Barbarossa.’ I was lucky to be put in touch with Hugh McCracken who gave me invaluable information on guns / equipment for the era. I also met Marta Przybysz who helped immensely with the historical background of Krakow and gave Eva a more rounded character.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Eva is a mix of two historical characters and there are elements of women I’ve known over the years who are all ‘a bit Eva’!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Stephen King – ‘Salem’s Lot’, ‘The Stand’/ George Orwell ‘1984’/ Peter Benchley ‘Jaws’/ ‘Explorations’ by Dr. Robert Ballard / Don deLilo ‘Underworld’/ David Mamet ‘A whore’s profession.’ And ‘All the pretty horses’ by Cormac McCarthy. I read and have re-read these so many times!
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Richard Ford – an amazing writer who is economical with language.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Richard Kadrey – I’m a huge fan of Sandman Slim. I’ve read four of them so far.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Working with MKSP to re-launch Get Lenin and the sequel ‘Zinnman’. Once they’re up and running I have book #4 of Eva’s adventures completed. All going well, I’ll send that into MKSP too.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The music scene. I sometimes write reviews for CD’s and the support for my work by the musician’s has been immense. Tony Floyd Kenna has been tireless in this area. I have to thank Marty Miller at Dublin’s Radio Nova, Liam Coburn at Dublin radio station Q102 & Sean Brophy at Dublin city radio. Big fans & good friends.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
More of a retirement plan that started 20 years earlier!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Once Get Lenin was re-launched I did get to re-write a good portion of it & cut out more of the deadwood – for me the MKSP edition is the definitive version.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It’s an odd one this. I was ten when I badgered my parents to take me to see ‘JAWS’. In class we were asked to write about something that had recently excited us. I wrote a small piece from the film and talked my friend Neil Bevan into performing a little two-hander from the film (for want of a better word) and I got a round of applause. I understood even then, that words can become an event. Later, when I was gigging around Dublin, I kept tour diaries and cobbled them together into a novel. I pitched it, but it got nowhere.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
At the moment, I’m concentrating on the re-launch of both novels.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Dialogue, it’s very hard to get an authenticity to people’s speech. I’ve been told I produce ‘Tin-ear dialogue.’ That’s where I’m concentrating at the moment.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have a favourite as I try to read as many genre’s as possible. The author I’ve read most of is Stephen King, after him, Elmore Leonard. Richard Kadrey is very much up there. Of the Irish authors – Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann, Sebastian Barry and John Banville.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. Even the library readings I did for Get Lenin Edition 1 were across the road from my house
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For edition #1 that was released I designed the cover as well as ‘Zinnman.’ For edition #2 MKSP’s Rebbekah Zakrzewski White did an amazing job and got exactly ‘the feel’ for the novel.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The research – I love history, just hate re-checking facts! Sex scenes are pretty challenging too, it’s where to draw the line and remember your readership.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That what you start out with evolves into something you never expected. Also, that if you stick with something, when you see the final result, you feel more independent and more complete as a person.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’m not one for giving advice, I asked for some from another writer and they said ‘Keep writing’ – works for me!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Please post up reviews (good or bad)
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but the earliest I can remember is reading ‘Gorilla Adventure’ by Willard Price. I remember the description of the villain vividly; he had a scar running down his face.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
‘Some Like it hot’, my all-time favourite film; not a word of dialogue wasted – I laugh all the way through and the tragedy of the beautiful Marilyn Monroe – like Elton John, wish I’d been there for her.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Tough one – Jimi Hendrix or Jaco Pastorius – love them both. I’d like to meet David Bowie, discuss with him the option of portraying Henry Chainbridge in Get Lenin.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Here lies William Robert Craven – born 02.07.66 died 2050 – the fortune teller was on the money!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I sketch and draw. I was taking life study courses for a few years. (does drinking count as a hobby?)
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
‘Homeland’ has improved – certainly season 3 is shaping up well, ‘The Good Wife’, and ‘Doctor Who’ for TV. Films – I’ve a wide taste, all genres. I’m a big fan of Ridley Scott.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food – Indian, the hotter the better
Colour – Yellow
Music – I have to admit, I’m an old rocker – RUSH are probably my favorite band; they’ve done it their way for forty years.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I burned out playing music, if things had panned out differently and I hadn’t been such a clown for the duration, I might’ve stuck at it. I dabbled with acting school, but the stage was not for me and I wouldn’t have given Liam Neeson too many sleepless nights if I had continued!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
No. But here’s my Amazon author page – it’s linked into my twitter account.