Q: How did you get started writing?
I was always drawing as a child and loved just putting things down on paper. I created and inhabited those little worlds for hours on end. I think as we grow older, we lose that ability to explore the abstract world of our imaginations and being a writer reconnects you to that skill. As a teenager, I read all the early works of Stephen King and ‘Salem’s Lot’ was that one book that was like a starting gun for me. It’s a very underrated book.
In 1992, I entered a competition for a speculative fiction magazine and although I didn’t win, I was published in it. The story was titled ‘The Chase’. I still have the acceptance letter carefully stowed away. For a decade or so in the late 1980’s and 90’s, I played electric bass in bands – blues, punk, salsa, you name it; I played it; weddings, festivals, birthday parties and I toured Ireland, the UK and Holland. On the road, I kept tour diaries and they resulted in my first real attempt at writing in 2000; ‘Vocals preferred; own transport essential’. It got some positive feedback from the pitches, but never got an agent or published. But after that, it set me on my way.
Q: What made you decide to write in the genre you chose?
I live in a small seaside town on the beautiful East Coast of Ireland. During the first lockdown of 2020 when we only had a 2km limit for nearly three months I had all this sudden free time and walked every day along the nearby north and south beach. There’s an island a few miles off the coast called Lambay Island, and I started sketching out a detective story set on the shore of the island.
‘A Kind of Drowning’ was the result. I released it on 21.05.04. It is a big departure from my usual books as it’s my first detective fiction novel.
Q: What are some of the steps you take to ready yourself to write?
There are two books I always read before I start a project – Lionel Davidson’s ‘Kolymsky Heights’ (probably the greatest thriller ever) and Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. I purchase a good quality writing journal and draft the synopsis in it – a 25 word ‘pitch’ then a 50-word synopsis, a 100 word, a 500 word and then a 1000 word. It generally gives me the ‘skeleton’ of the novel. I will keep working in that journal, sometimes writing over the first lines which helps the process for me. I treat the journal as a laboratory, a scrap book, a snapshot, and use it side by side with the laptop,
Q: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to cook and do most of the meals in the house. It’s something I’ve only started doing over the past few years. My son plays football (soccer in the USA) so a fair amount of time is a taxi service to and from training and matches. For the season I am writing in the car when there is some downtime. I have a full-time job, so writing is still my primary hobby!
Q: What is your all-time favorite book? Movie?
My all-time favorite book is George Orwell’s ‘1984’. I’ve lost count how many times I have read it. Considering its nearly eighty years old, its message is more relevant today than it was when it was first published.
My all-time favorite move is ‘Some Like it Hot’, it is literally flawless. There isn’t a line of script, frame, scene, or performance that isn’t perfect. And Marylin was beautiful.
Q: When you read for yourself, what is your favorite genre?
Spy stories, fiction, and non-fiction. Historical fiction too.
Q: After a difficult day what do you do to recuperate? How do you unwind?
My wife, Fiona got me into yoga four years ago. She practices it every day and I do it with her. I give it my best shot but being graceful and lithe aren’t my strong points! But it helps get your head straight and you learn a little humility every day.
Q: For what are you grateful?
It’s a cliché, but my health. The pandemic has wreaked so much destruction that I value my health, my family and that Ireland is a safe country to live in. I love the mantra ‘I am here, I am alive, and I am grateful’. I say it to myself every day.
Q: If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?
Take your time with things and take care of other people’s feelings.
Q: At what age were you the happiest? What triggered such joy?
My 45th birthday; my first novel ‘Get Lenin’ had just been published, I was married to a tremendous woman and a father to a wonderful boy. It really felt like a magical age to be.
Q: How can our readers connect with you?
My website is the best way to reach out and find my books: https://www.robert-cravenauthor.ie