On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, Guy Robin talks about his new dystopian thriller, Dysfunction, and what inspired him to start writing.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Guy Robin about his debut novel Dysfunction, the inspiration behind his story, and his creative writing process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Guy, 56, married to Paula. We do not have any children. We live down in East Sussex near Eastbourne. Went to Reeds school, Surrey. I retired from The Met. Police six years ago. Currently I am the personal driver to one client.
I love motorbike touring and am about to take my advanced test. I am a keen long-distance walker (kept me sane during lockdown). I collect British, US and Olympic postage stamps. I also collect Scottish malt whisky. I love sport, having played hockey until I was 50.
I follow rugby union and am devoted to road cycling; traveling to France in the summer to try and catch up with Le Tour
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have wanted to write a book for years. I remember detailing a story to my boss and he said I should write it. That was 15 years ago. It’s not this one and not the next; but one day I’ll write that one. There was a chap on my relief at Battersea Police Station called Mick Pannett; he’s written a few books; that was a good motivation…
When did you take a step to start writing?
I suppose since I retired there were lots of false starts. I did a creative writing course. I wrote a couple of short stories and a few introductory chapters for other ideas. But they all ended up getting shelved. I still have them, maybe for future projects. This first publication came from the boredom of lockdown. I’d run out of LEGO to build and whisky to buy; so, I just found myself typing one day. That would have been about August 2020. I decided to be quite disciplined and write at least 1000 words a day (except weekends). By April 2021 I had a story.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
The idea came from the situation in the UK at that time. August 2020, I wrote the first few pages. Finished the writing in April 2021. After several rejections from literary agents and a few offers from publishers that would have required a second mortgage; I decided to do it myself. Grosvenor House in Tolworth is run by someone I knew through Reeds school connections. When we publish in March 2022 it will be just shy of a year since I finished writing it.
What made you want to write Dysfunction?
The topic is / was relevant. I was getting a little fed up with the bumbling nature of our Government advice and the disinformation being spread on social media about the Covid 19 pandemic. It struck me that there were some great ‘what if’s’ being posed by the situation. So, I made up a vague pandemic (never mentioned Covid19) and pushed what a Government might do just a little…
What were your biggest challenges with writing Dysfunction?
Ideally it might have been nice to visit locations and study landscapes and breath in the atmosphere of the place. I had to rely on memories, Google maps and street view.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
There is no getting away from the fact that the main character, Peter, is me really. They say write about what you know, so that seemed pretty easy. I do not, though, share all of his views. But writing him, I found myself thinking ‘well, what would I do in that circumstance’.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
I made a conscious decision not to write the antagonist side. I was preparing the chapter and just suddenly decided to not give that side of the story. I kept them deliberately vague and unseen. They are there and cause problems, but it’s not their story.
What is the inciting incident of Dysfunction?
It takes what we all came to understand as Government controlled lockdown regulations and just makes them much much stricter and frightening.
What is the main conflict of Dysfunction?
It’s the very real fight between a group of people, thrown together trying to survive the restrictions, having to adapt the way they live, where they live and how they live. The conflict ramps up between them and hostile elements that have ventured into their area.
Did you plot Dysfunction in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I had a loose plot, an idea of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take it. It was pretty vague. Some things came out of discoveries made with Google earth. “Oh! What’s that?” then researching what I had seen and factoring it into the story.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Dysfunction need?
My wonderful wife did a couple of edits. It was proof read and copy edited by the publishers to. There was a seemingly endless back and forth as revisions were sent for checking.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Just go for it. Don’t get bogged down with language. I read some things and there are too many adjectives and it detracts from the story. Write about something you have knowledge of; it will be easier. There may be false starts, but just keep plugging away. Enjoy it!
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Not to be stuck in one genre. I have a project that is about 75% written. I have a historical fiction / romance piece, set from 1900 -1964. It follows one main character’s journey through adversity and his ability to remain true and to triumph through his struggles.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
There was a very strange feeling when I saw my work up on a few web sites. Yes, I am proud to have done this. I have no expectation about the work. I found the writing to be more enjoyable than the publishing. If I can secure an agent as I continue to write that might mean I can have assistance with the process; that would be nice!
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
I am on Facebook and Instagram as Guy Robin
Twitter : @guyrobin_author
LinkedIn: Guy Robin
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