Today we welcome David Young, author of the recently released crime thriller Stasi Wolf to Booklover Book Reviews to share how ‘Networking Pays’.
They say that networking pays. The only trouble is, I hate it.
Being a generally anti-social chap, in my day job before becoming a full-time author I used to avoid work-related social events like the plague, preferring to keep an invisible wall between a job I often detested, and the home life I retreated to.
But one piece of very rare networking by my good self has just paid off big time, so perhaps I should take it more seriously.
I’ve already told the story of how I got the original idea for my Karin Müller crime thriller series – the second of which, Stasi Wolf, has just been released – many, many times. In fact, fellow authors at Bonnier Zaffre – especially GJ Minett who always teases me about it – are thoroughly bored with it.
What happened was that, to let off steam from the unfulfilling day job, I started a little indiepop band. Somehow we blagged a short self-booked tour of Germany, and it was on our visit to the now unified eastern part of Berlin where I got my inspiration.
The band was The Candy Twins. You won’t have heard them, or heard of them, and that’s probably for the best.
But one of our gigs before the project ended (mainly because I was a singer songwriter who couldn’t sing) was supporting an excellent Danish group on their first-ever UK gig in Shoreditch.
We opened the bill, and then relaxed watching this band called Northern Portrait, who’d just released their first EP on California label Matinée Recordings.
They were excellent, I was totally blown away, particularly by the superb voice and songs of their songwriter and lead singer Stefan Larsen.
I chatted to Stefan afterwards, saying we were planning another German tour if we could get the gigs, and asking if he’d be interested in being the headline act, with us as support, if we sorted something in Berlin again.
He said: “I wouldn’t mind.” Pretty non-committal, but I took that as his Danish reserve.
I tried to sort the gig, but somehow the owner of the club got the wrong end of the stick and thought Northern Portrait were confirmed. They weren’t. But he’d already booked us as the support band and honoured that – we ended up playing as headliners to about six people. It was embarrassing (although some gigs on the second tour were fine, including a lovely one run by a former East German air stewardess and her husband in the Harz mountains, which I used as a setting in my debut Stasi Child).
One of the songs we played on that tour was inspired by the Northern Portrait gig. It was a tribute to them called ‘The Next Big Thing’, which in 2010 it looked like they might be. It includes the line “Would you like to play with us at the Bang Bang Club?’, and he replied “I wouldn’t mind”.
This was the venue in Berlin (now defunct) where we played to the six people. It later became the inspiration for the fictional HQ for Müller and Tilsner in Stasi Child.
Stefan messaged me on Facebook saying how touched he was about the song. Which was good enough for me. And so there the story should have ended.
Only there was one final twist.
When Stasi Child was finally published early in 2016, I got another message from Stefan on Facebook, even though I hadn’t been in contact for years.
‘Have the Danish rights for Stasi Child been sold yet?’ he asked.
‘No,’ I replied. ‘Why?’
‘Because my partner and I want to buy them!’
Stefan now worked in film and books – he and his business partner Christian were part of the team involved in the Polish/Danish Oscar-winning production Ida.
And so this summer – seven years after I first met him – Stefan and Christian will be publishing the Danish-language edition of Stasi Child. And if – as we all hope – it sells well, they’re interested in acquiring Stasi Wolf too.
I celebrated by inviting Stefan over to play some Northern Portrait songs and covers at the Stasi Wolf launch last week. We all had a fantastic time.
It just goes to prove that networking really does pay!
— — —
STASI WOLF by David Young
#2 Karin Müller series
How do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions?
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 . . .
About the Author, 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, was a print and ebook bestseller, selling more than 60,000 copies in all formats. The novel won the 2016 CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger, was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award and shortlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize.
Be sure to check out these other Stasi Wolf tour stops for reviews and more words of wisdom from David!