A Quickie with David Young

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

A Darker State is the third in my award-winning crime thriller series set in East Germany in the 1970s, following on from Stasi Child and Stasi Wolf. It again features my female protaganist, People’s Police murder squad head, Karin Müller, though in this book she gets promoted – and that means her interaction with the secret police, the Stasi, is taken to a whole new, and darker, level. The book was inspired by some sinister and real-life medical research carried out in East Germany. But as well as that, it’s a coming of age story – and so can be enjoyed on many levels. I think it’s my best yet, but I’m biased.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

That Which Does Not Kill You

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

A woman from Wales wanted to know why Karin’s menstrual cycle didn’t feature more prominently in the books.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

JK Rowling – if her name was on the cover, plenty of book sales would be guaranteed.

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

When I left my (minor) public boarding school – which I never wanted to attend and which I never forgave my parents for sending me to – my parents sought a comment from the headmaster on his view about what my future held. Given they had wasted loads of money sending me there (even though I passed the 11 plus and could have gone to grammar school) they were expecting something insightful. My headmaster by then had little time for me, after I’d eyeballed him during a school folk guitar evening while singing Neil Young’s Ambulance Blues, and spitting out the lines ‘You’re all just pissing in the wind’, while worse for wear through drink. His verdict was that all I might be good for was singing in pubs.

I think this had my mother in tears, but in fact it came to pass – playing in pubs both at university and in more recent years with my band. A tour to Germany in 2008 in my fiftieth year was what inspired Stasi Child – so something good came from it. But my mother never witnessed the book hit the bestseller list. She died in 2002 from Parkinson’s Disease.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland. A fresh and exciting crime thriller and one of my books of the past 12 months, written by my fellow City University Creative Writing MA graduate.

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee. Excellent period crime novel, with a fantastic sense of time and place. A worthy winner of the 2017 Historical Dagger.

A History of the Dora Camp by André Sellier. The story of the Nazi slave labour camp that manufactured V2 rockets. I read this for research for book 4 in the Müller series. Gripping yet horrifying – one of the best, and most moving, non-fiction books I’ve ever read. Sellier tells it as a historian – yet what is astonishing is that he too was an inmate of Mittelbau-Dora.

Who is David Young? David Young was a journalist for more than 25 years with BBC World radio and TV. Now a full-time author, his debut novel Stasi Child, reached the Top 20 of the Bookseller’s Fiction chart and was a top five e-book bestseller. The novel won the 2016 CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger and was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award.

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