Today I’m on the blog tour for Stasi Wolf by David Young, this is the second book in the series and was published by Bonnier Zaffre on the 9th February 2017.
The series begins in 1975 with Stasi Child, David’s critically-acclaimed debut which was an official Top Twenty paperback bestseller in The Bookseller, won the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger for best historical crime novel of 2016, and was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.
I have a fabulous guest post from David Young explaining why he hates rewriting and editing so without further ado………….
Why I hate rewriting and edits (and what changed between the first and final drafts of Stasi Wolf)
Some writers love the editing process. I’m not one of them. I long for the day when the manuscript I present to my publishers comes back without any corrections or suggestions. But I’ll have a long wait, because that’s never going to happen – and I accept that, I really do (he says through gritted teeth).
When I presented my draft for Stasi Wolf to my editor at Bonnier, Joel Richardson, it was with some trepidation. Bonnier had bought three books on the strength of Stasi Child, but didn’t know the storyline I was proposing for either Book 2 (Stasi Wolf) or Book 3 (as yet untitled).
As the story included missing and dead babies (inspired by a real-life case in East Germany) as well as various other extreme crimes, I was concerned they might find it too dark.
In the event, I needn’t have worried. Joel loved the overall story but – as is always the case – he had some concerns that needed addressing through a redraft.
I’m going through the same process with Book 3 at the moment. Again, Joel loves the overall story, but wants some changes.
The difficulty is that my plots tend to be quite complicated, and I try to make sure one thing leads on from another. So if something gets changed, it has a knock-on effect. It doesn’t take too many changes to threaten to bring the whole house of cards crashing to the ground.
For the first draft of Stasi Wolf, it was felt there wasn’t the same sense of paranoia as in Stasi Child. So I came up with some solutions to that as I felt it was a fair point (I tend not to kick against editorial suggestions – if your editor feels there’s something wrong with what you’ve written, there most probably is). Joel’s belief was that I wasn’t initially making enough of the great setting of the supposedly ideal socialist city of Halle-Neustadt – which in GDR times had no street names (well actually a handful of streets did have names so I’ve cheated slightly).
So I introduced scenes where my main protagonist, Oberleutnant Karin Müller, becomes disoriented and overwhelmed by her surroundings – at the same time as feeling she’s being followed by the Stasi (which she almost certainly was, and may well have been in real-life).
There was also the need to delay an important reveal – I’d given the game away too early. And to up the level of excitement at times in the first half of the novel.
All this was do-able, and I knuckled down and did it hoping that my first rewrite would crack all the problems. But each time I was making changes in one part of the novel, it would have a knock-on effect for later.
And, predictably, when I handed in the rewrite there were still things that needed to be fixed, and some attempted fixes that needed to be undone.
It’s a long process, and can become wearying, but what I always try to remember is that we’re all on the same side. We’re trying to make the novel as good as it can possibly be, and I’m happy that – in the end – Joel’s suggested changes have made Stasi Wolf a much better book, one that I believe is as good as, if not better than, Stasi Child.
Whether readers will agree is another matter. But I can assure you, we certainly put the work in!
How do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions? The gripping new thriller from the bestselling author of Stasi Child.
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 . . .
Amazon UK 🇬🇧
DAVID YOUNG was born near Hull and, after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree, studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism on provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and international radio and TV newsrooms.
He now writes in his garden shed and in a caravan on the Isle of Wight, and in his spare time supports Hull City AFC.