Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series.
The Night Stalker, and Dark Water are the second and third books in the series, and the fourth book, Last Breath, has just been published.
Robert’s books have sold over 1.7 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages.
In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.
Hi Robert and thanks so much for agreeing to feature on my website.
Congratulations on the success of your Erika Foster series, which as you know I particularly love, can you please tell the readers here more about the books and what order to read them in?
Thank you, and thanks for having me here on your website. I wanted to write a different lead character in my crime series. Erika Foster is inspired by my life in Slovakia, in that she is a Slovak immigrant who came to the UK when she was eighteen as an au pair. She stayed, got married, learnt English and joined the UK police force, working up to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector. This is all back story, as we join the first book in the series The Girl in the Ice, in the aftermath of the death of Erika’s husband when she is transferred to London’s Met Police. She’s a very interesting character to write, and she has her flaws. The next books in the series are The Night Stalker. Dark Water and Last Breath. But they can be ready in any order and as well as being series books, work as stand-alone stories.
You have also published a series of romantic comedies, tell us more please?
The starting point for my romantic comedy The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard was long ago. Before I was a writer, I went to drama school. Our graduation play was a fantastic farce called ‘An Absolute Turkey’, and in it I played a very deaf old man called Major Pinchard who had a crazy wife called Coco Pinchard. He was one of those characters, as an actor which is a dream to play, and long after the play finished and we’d graduated, I kept in touch with my friends by writing these emails, supposedly from Major Pinchard. A few years later I was asked to audition for a comedy show, and I couldn’t be bothered to learn anything so I performed one of these emails, which then turned into a stand-up act. Years later, my husband said I should write a book about the character, but it didn’t work. However, the Coco Pinchard character turned into something completely different, and evolved into a story told entirely through Coco’s sent emails. There are now five books in the series, and I’m hoping to write another one soon.
How do you differentiate between writing the crime fiction and the romantic comedies, do you wear a feather boa and a tutu when writing Coco Pinchards and change into dark clothes with dark glasses when writing Erika?
I wish my writing attire was as snappy as that all sounds. I usually roll out of bed and pull the first thing on that I can see. I think I find them challenging in different ways. The crime thrillers are very plot driven, with lots of twists and turns and red herrings, and that is very tough to write. The romantic comedies are much more character driven, and I like mine to be more comedy than romance, so being able to make readers laugh is hard. I find that the first drafts of my rom-coms are always a little darker, and I always cut out lots of humour from the crime thrillers.
Your books have sold over 1.7 million copies and translated into 27 languages – have you have seen anyone reading your book or choosing it at a bookshop and introduced yourself and if not, would you?
No, I haven’t yet, which probably means I don’t get out much. It has also happened so fast, it’s only just over a year since The Girl in the Ice was released, and I’ve been in the writing cave a lot since! When I was in Barcelona recently to do some promotion for the Spanish version of The Girl in the Ice. I went to a bookshop to do a signing, and afterwards we were looking around and we saw customers lining up at the till to buy my book. That was quite a big thing for me. I also went into another bookshop in Barcelona to sign some books and the manager put the jacket photo against my face, to make sure I wasn’t some random guy who just likes signing books.
You live in Slovakia – how often do you come back to Britain and what do you miss most?
I come back home every few months, the funny thing is that I don’t feel that far away. I remember when I went on a school exchange to Germany, and whilst this was only for two weeks, I felt so far away from home and I missed everything. There were no mobile phones or internet, and I only got to speak to my parents once for a few minutes, as it was so expensive to call. In Slovakia I speak to my family every day, through email and Skype. I grew up on the East Coast of England, so I suppose I miss fish and chips, which you can’t get here in Slovakia. Fish and chips cooked in beef dripping from Captain Nemo’s in Lowestoft, or as it is known in my family, Captain Nymphos.
I notice you are very indecisive about your beard (see below) – would you ever consider growing a real bushy beard and why do you keep shaving yours off?
I think I look better with a bit of a beard, but when it gets to a certain length it drives me crazy, especially in the summer here in Slovakia when it’s so hot, so I shave it all off and start again. I am trying to grow it a bit longer, but I could never have a great long beard. I would worry about bits of food getting caught in it, or being dropped off by someone, and shutting it in the car door as they drive away.
You recently sent me a copy of your new Erika Foster book LAST BREATH – complete with Slovakian chocolate (yum) and a bunch of black feathers (WTF?) – please explain the feathers and how many black birds you sacrificed for this promotion?
I would just like to state now that no birds were harmed for the promotion, and they all willingly sent in their feathers. The feathers were there to add a little bit of drama!
Who would you really like to just punch in the face?
Ah, now that would be telling!
What’s your favourite fruit and vegetable?
Blueberry, eaten frozen. Cauliflower, preferably in a curry.
Tell us something about yourself that no-one else knows?
In the second Coco Pinchard book, Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding it is revealed that Coco’s four- year-old son Rosencrantz had a teddy bear called Bitch. He had heard the word somewhere, and without knowing what it meant fell in love with the name, which causes lots of problems when adults ask the question, ‘and what’s your teddy bear called?’ This is true. When I was four, I got a teddy bear who I wanted to name Bitch, until my parents persuaded me to change his name to ‘Beige’ in account of his colour, and that it wasn’t a curse word.