The Foreign Residents in the TRNC (TFR)
Interview with Author Robin Melhuish
by Ralph Kratzer
After my contribution to the recent publication of the thriller “The Quiet Way”, written by an esteemed member of our expatriate community in Northern Cyprus and member of the TFR, Robin Melhuish, now follows an interview with him about his life and his work as an author. Click here to view the former post.
Robin, how do you approach cover design?
The cover is the eye-catcher, your silent salesperson, if you like. A bit like a shelf-talker in a supermarket, it must give an immediate, possibly subliminal message about what the book is about. It has to reflect the content, to give the message, without giving the plot away. So it has to include lots of elements from the plot.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My favourite books are a mixture of fiction, comedy and documentary. I think the book that really got my juices going the most was way back as a child, Robert Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a strange land.’ A book that taught me that indoctrination was bad and your mind only has the boundaries you set it (or allow to be set by others). The second has to be Eric Frank Russel’s ‘Wasp’ Spy field craft as science fiction, a wonderful book. I’d follow that with a book I read recently ‘Hitler’s Empire’ by Mark Mazower. Wow! I take my hat off to you Mark, for the best analysis I have ever read. Having lived in Germany for 30 years, I can only say he hits the nail on the head in every chapter. The list wouldn’t be complete with out Le Carré, I think the spy thriller with the action all in the head (mostly) was encapsulated in ‘Smiley’s People.’ A privilege to read it. Last but not least for the sheer fun involved, has to be Matt Beaumont’s ‘e’. for it’s very novel approach and side splitting humour, not to mention pillorying the advertising business.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in England, after college I worked in Germany and learned about the bits the allies didn’t know about. I settled in Germany for years travelling the world from there and ended up buying a house in the Czech Republic which was a renovation project for years, with many happy a tale to tell. It was here that someone suggested writing a book about it. A project which, unlike the house, never got finished. But I had got the bug and from then on I wanted to write, but other constraints, partnership etc held me from devoting the time it really needed to do it properly. Now I have moved to Cyprus, where I have the peace I need and the intellectual stimulus and encouragement from my lovely friends here.
picture above: Robin Melhuish (left) and Ralph Kratzer
When did you first start writing?
I started seriously about 20 years ago. The quote, that there are so many good books unwritten, was etched on my brain for a while. It wasn’t until I started, that I realised it wasn’t as easy as just telling a story. My first work (if you can call it that) was an attempt to document the tale of buying a house in the Czech Republic. It never really got beyond the draft notes stage. Then I got an idea about Nazi Germany that I turned into 150,000 words and thought was the dog’s whatsits until my father read it and threw it back at me asking when I was going to correct it. Crestfallen I put it in a drawer and forgot about it until I moved to Cyprus where I practically rewrote it. It is finished now. I must say a very steep learning curve and I still thank my father for pulling the plug on it all those years ago, because it was utter rubbish.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
I could be shifty here and say, buy it and find out, or if you are talking about the work in progress, then I wish I knew would probably be not too far off the mark. Let’s just say the new one is a conspiracy involving the last Gulf War and Nazi monies in the hands of some very prominent people. You’ve all heard of Good Banks and Bad Banks. Well this is almost Good Money, Bad Money, Matter and Antimatter. Complex, but I hope enthralling enough to get people to ask lots of questions.
Nobody else seemed to want me (publisher). (I hope there’s not a dry eye in the house.)
What are you working on next?
I don’t think next occurs. I think your brain picks up salient bits of information during the research you are currently doing which may be the trigger for the next story. It’s concurrent, not next in my case.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The urge to put my dreams on paper / hard disc. I get up at dawn and work till 9am (which in winter is a nice short working day .)
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Exploring archaeological sites and off-roading in Cyprus. I hasten to add, not treasure hunting or destroying the heritage but documenting and trying to get recognition for the sites.
What do you try to tell in your stories?
They are all different, but on analysis, I suppose that they all carry some kind of message. Like don’t always accept things at face value. Or, why are we only shown particular things on the news? Is it really so earth shattering that some TV star is having an affair with the plumber? What are we not being told and why.
For further more information about “The Quiet Way” click the link below:
Don’t like it on Facebook before you’ve read it.