The Girl in the Ice is currently featured on Thrillers and More as ‘Debut of the month’. Although it is not the first book Robert Bryndza wrote, it is his first crime novel and the first book in the series featuring DCI Erika Foster. The Girl in the Ice has been published in Dutch and available in bookstores this month and we thought it was time we get to know the man behind DCI Foster!
Who is Robert Bryndza? Which five words describe you best and why?
Hello to all my wonderful Dutch readers, I’m Robert Bryndza. I’m so excited that my book is being published in your country. I’m in love with my work, and as I’ve grown older I find I have the confidence to speak my mind. I am loyal, I really care about my readers, and I love animals. I can also be impatient!
You were born in Britain, how did you end up in Slovakia?
My husband is Slovak, and after many years living in London and Los Angeles, we fancied a change of pace and a different lifestyle.
Is writing something you have always wanted to do? What made you go from acting to writing? Do you miss acting or do you still do that?
Yes, from an early age, but I never imagined that I could make a living from writing, so I got sidetracked in my twenties going to drama school and then working as an actor. One of my first memories is of my dad telling stories to my sister and me. On Saturday and Sunday mornings we would go through to my parents’ room, sit at the end of their bed with tea and biscuits and listen. He wouldn’t read to us from a book, he would make up his own stories, and I thought they were wonderful. One in particular I still remember was about birds nesting under the eaves of our house. He created all of these characters, like a soap opera, and on the Saturday morning there would always be a cliffhanger, which would be resolved on Sunday! I think something lit up in my mind. The power of storytelling, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
An article in a newspaper, a piece of overheard conversation, a personal experience. Inspiration is everywhere.
You wrote romantic comedy before. What made you decide to write crime? Is it something you have always wanted to do?
I have always wanted to write in this genre. I love the structure of crime drama, and they are my favourite books to read.
Tell us about Erika Foster: why a female protagonist? Did Erika just pop up in your head or did it take some time to come up with her? How did you come up with The girl in the ice?
Erika evolved slowly in my head over a few years. I also wanted to tell the story of a Slovak immigrant who now lived in the UK and was part of society. I thought it would be interesting to explore the cultural differences. I had the idea, several years ago when I was listening to the Kate Bush album 50 Words For Snow. It’s a hypnotic and evocative album, and it captures the loneliness and beauty of snow and ice in winter. An image came into my mind of standing on a frozen lake, scraping away the snow and seeing a girl’s face staring back at me from underneath the ice.
You have given Erika quite the broken heart..
Yes. But broken people are much more interesting.
Have you always intended to write a series?
I always hoped that I would be able to write a series, but the original plan was to write two books and see if readers liked them. Luckily they did.
When you write, does it have to be quiet or can you write any time, anywhere? Have you got music playing or not? (and if so, what kind of music?)
I can write anytime and anywhere. I don’t have any rituals, but I think routine is important. I thought, early on, that as a writer I would have to wait for inspiration to strike, but I’ve realised you have to show up every day and put words down on the page. It’s a simple, and as difficult as that. So I’m at my computer at 9am and after a break for lunch I work until 5pm. I try to write 2,500 words a day.
Do you plot out your book from start to finish and then write it down or do you let your characters lead the story and see where they take you?
I start with a basic idea, but I don’t plan. I let the characters lead the story, often you end up in a place you never expected.
You are being compared to M.J. Arlidge, how do you feel about that? Have you read his books?
I have never read his books, but I have heard how popular they are!
The girl in the ice has finally come to Holland, will you come over for a visit sometime in the future? Do you have any idea if the other Erika-books will be translated as well?
I would love to come to Holland someday. The first two books have been bought by my Dutch publisher, and hopefully if readers enjoy them, there will be more.
Your crime debut has been published in many countries. Do you have a copy of all of them? Do you have any say in the cover of the book?
27 Countries so far! And each country sends me four or five copies, so I have a lot of books in my office! I don’t have any say in the covers, but most have decided to keep the English language edition cover, which I’m pleased about.
Would you like Erika Foster to come alive on screen?
Yes, I’d love there to be a TV show of the books.
Do you read a lot yourself? Who is your favorite author, what is your favorite book ever?
Yes, Although I don’t get as much time right now. My favourite book is The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend.
And now for something completely different: what Slovak dish is something we Dutchies should definitely try sometime?
If you ever come to Slovakia you should definitely try Halusky Bryndzova, which is a home made pasta with sheep cheese and bacon.