Sunday, December 1, 2013

Once the Bug Bites, You're Infected; a few notes on my novels.'' by Robert Craven


I’ve always loved adventure books - the first ones I can remember reading as a child were ‘The Viking Adventure’ by Clyde Robert Bulla and ‘Gorilla adventure’ by Willard Price and it was that ‘pull’ of being transported to other times and locations that stayed with me.

In secondary school, I took Fredrick Forsyth’s ‘The day of the jackal’ out from the school library only to have the librarian, Brother O’Sullivan, stop and have me return it because of its ‘adult content’. He recommended I read Alastair Maclean instead - I read all of his ones available in the library. Then I took out ‘The day of the jackal’, I didn’t quite understand the ‘adult content’ at the time but loved the idea of the anonymous assassin.

            The authors I still love to read are Martin Cruz Smith, Robert Harris, Ian McEwan, James Clavell and Stephen King and I hope ‘GET LENIN’ is in that vein; a page-turner, pot-boiler, the sort of book you see on a shelf in an airport bookshop and buy while waiting for the boarding call. 

The main character, Eva Molenaar, started out in the very first drafts in a modern setting as a young Editorial assistant for a London publisher. Taken into his confidence, she uncovers material pointing to a sunken U-Boat off the Irish coast with Lenin’s sarcophagus aboard and the publisher’s direct involvement with it. I thought that time-wise it wouldn’t work as the publisher would already be in his late 80’s and the plot would involve flashbacks all the time.  Then I looked at making her British, but again felt it wouldn’t work & eventually settled on Polish and moved her story into the 1930’s. She’s modelled loosely on Nancy Wake an Australian spy who fought alongside the French Resistance and the 1940’s film star Ava Gardner.

To a point, GET LENIN is about manipulation of mass media to meet an agenda, which Nazi Germany and Russia perfected in the 1930’s - and is as relevant today as nearly 80 years ago.

Spy master Henry Chainbridge is condensed into all of the voices saying that Hitler and Stalin cannot be trusted; he’s the lone voice of reason. He is cool and composed and is based on a musician friend of mine (who has since sadly passed away) and when writing and developing the character, I heard his voice first and built the character from that point.

Chainbridge’s associate, Peter De Witte is Dutch, handsome, urbane & blind. He’s a character who overcomes his disability and is the creator of the Braille code that Eva uses. As Eva’s lover, he sets up the emotional conflict later in the book when Eva meets the German captain Klaus Brandt, a man she should not be attracted to, but is.

            After Get Lenin was released, I had the idea to create a sequel and develop the relationships further and create another conspiracy and peril for the characters to deal with. I wrote Zinnman and saw the potential for a series spanning the conflict. I have a third novel due early 2014, titled ‘A finger of night’ and at this moment the raw first draft of the fourth adventure, working title ‘Hollow point’.  

                The only decision now, is to either kill Eva off at the end of the war, or allow her to continue her adventures into the early days of the Cold War.