Q&A With David Young!
Q) Stasi Wolf opens up in 1975, Berlin wall divided Germany, it is novel 2 in the Stasi series. Karin Müller is the protagonist & is rapidly becoming one of my favourites in the Historical crime genre. But as a writer what made you decide on a female lead? Also her having a feisty no-nonsense approach?
A)There were two main reasons. Firstly, it felt right for the setting and time period. At that time, women were more equal in East German society than they were in the west – with a very high percentage (more than 90% of working age females off the top of my head) in work. So it felt to me realistic – and there were plenty of female detectives in the GDR, although few, if any, murder squad heads. So it helped to make her distinctive. But I was also aware that this type of novel traditionally tends to attract more of a male readership, and I wanted to try to draw female readers to the series.
Q) Karin Müller evolves as a character so much in Stasi Wolf and by the end of the novel (no spoilers) she is completely changed from the character we knew in the opening of Stasi Child. Was that intentional? Did you feel the need to change her over time? Or did the writing take you there? *Ultimately I have loved the evolution of her character, it has been exceptionally daring of you as a writer.
A) To some extent this is unintentional, and is partly plot-led. Müller is sent to take over what appears to be a murder inquiry in another part of the country. She’s essentially ‘big-footing’ the local detectives. So I felt from the get-go she had to impose herself, and be seen to be strong. Because of what happens at the end of Stasi Child, at the beginning of Stasi Wolf she is by necessity without her usual right-hand man, Werner Tilsner. So she’s forced to take control. I think she’s stronger in this novel, and less willing to be manipulated by those around her.
Q) The novel opens with a dark & harrowing prologue, one that is historically accurate & haunting all at the same time. It 100% drew me into the novel. Was there an intention to make the novel more dark & gritty? Or was it where the research for this particular novel took you? If so what research did you uncover that inspired the novel?
A) I was interested in the idea of the legacy of the Second World War on East Germany – and particularly on women in East Germany. Many of them suffered terribly at the hands of victorious Red Army soldiers (just as the Soviet people had suffered, to an even greater degree, at the hands of Nazi Germany). That drew me into reading some of their stories. How the abuse they suffered could never be acknowledged, because the Soviets were now their ‘friends’. That’s what inspired the prologue. The overall story arose from something I heard when researching Stasi Child – about how the Stasi took over an infanticide investigation at a Leipzig hospital to avoid the public becoming alarmed, keeping their probe completely secret (in the last couple of weeks this has surfaced in Germany and features in a new documentary). So all of that was quite dark. And then Halle-Neustadt, where most of the novel is set, was the scene of a grisly murder – the Crossword Puzzle Murder – in the early 80s, so I borrowed a little from that. I’d visited ‘Ha-Neu’ just out of curiosity while researching Stasi Child and I realised that with its nameless streets and rows and rows of near-identical apartments it would make a fantastic setting for a crime novel.
Q) Overall the novel has a huge Thiller/action theme and this broke the mould from Stasi Child which had a more crime/mystery. Is there a future potential for Stasi Wolf to be a movie/TV series? And if so, how soon? And where do I tune in?
A) I’m not sure I completely agree with that – I think in many ways Stasi Child and Stasi Wolf are similar. Each one is a hybrid of police procedural/thriller/action adventure. Hopefully that will draw in readers who are fans of all those genres. But the danger of course is that none will be completely satisfied. Although Stasi Child received generally good reviews, some people criticised the fact that in its latter stages it transforms from police procedural into action adventure thriller. In many ways, Stasi Wolf is the same – although the second narrative in Stasi Wolf is much darker, and unreliable. But I think it was this action thriller element that attracted Euston Films to option the books and they are actively trying to find a broadcaster to turn them into a TV series. That could be sooner, later or never. But yes, I hope you will be able to tune in one day!
More & more book adaptions are being commissioned and it draws more non-readers to the original novels. I sincerely hope Stasi Wolf makes it to the screens, big or little!
*Thank you so much David Young for your time 🙂
Stasi Wolf by David Young
I was hugely excited to read the author’s first novel Stasi Child as it is such a unique historical setting and I found the novel fascinating. So when Stasi Wolf’s release was announced, I was again keen to see where the series would go & be back reading about Karin Muller, who as a feisty female protagonist is fast becoming one of my all time favourite characters!
The novel opens with a harrowing prologue, Which sets the pace that this series just got a whole lot darker! We are transported to 1975 & this time the case is that of child snatcher lurking in the midst! The writing is atmospheric and I really felt as though I was following the team as they attempt to solve the case. Every clues and twist leads to dead ends and I began to wonder if the case will ever be solved! Within the novel we learn more about Karin, her past & the depth of her character and ultimately how her personality has adapted due to her childhood and upbringing. This adds to the mystery & suspense of the novel and I felt that Karin really develops as a character in Stasi Wolf.
I found the plotline to be consistently gripping and it kept me guessing, right to the very last pages.
The authors note at the end of the novel separates the fact from the fiction within the story & I felt it added to the authenticity of what is, a very well researched novel.
This book is such a mixture of genre’s I can see it appealing to a wide range of readers. There are historical fiction elements but at its core it is a thriller/mystery novel with some added action scenes thrown in!
I really enjoyed this novel and would hugely recommend it myself to others. A huge 5* from me!
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 . . .