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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Guy Robin shares the story of his new historical fiction novel, Indomitable, inspired his grandfather, Karl, and his life through the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Guy Robin about his life and career, what inspired him to start a writing career, and being inspired by his grandfather Karl to write his new historical fiction novel, Indomitable.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Hello, I’m Guy. A retired Metropolitan Police officer in my late 50’s. I am married to Paula and since July 2023 we have been living in a small village in the Dordogne, France. This major move might possibly have slowed down bringing my latest work to print.
We have a large garden that will keep us busy, but it is a peaceful and tranquil place, with little to distract me, when we are not overwhelmed with visitors. I have time to get out on my motorbike, with Paula behind me and search for things of interest in this beautiful country. While not writing I am a keen collector of stamps and Scottish Malt Whisky.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Like so many I had always wanted to write a book. I have loads of false starts on my computer, when I began to write a story energetically, only for my motivation to diminish and for me to be distracted by other things. But during the enforced lockdown of 2020 and into 2021 I found that once all the distractions of life had been removed, I could happily write. That’s all it was to start with. I just began a story, set myself 1000 words a day rough target and by about six to eight months I had an 80,000-word novel
When did you take a step to start writing?
The first words of my debut novel were written in about August 2020 but prior to that I completed some creative writing courses.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Once I got into a rhythm with my story and finalised where I wanted to go with it, I actually finished writing it in July 2021. After six months of query rejections, I decided to self-publish using a publishing house who would assist me with proof reading and copy editing. We eventually put out the paperback and e-book of Dysfunction by Guy Robin in March 2022.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
I began Indomitable in August 2021 and actually finished the story in July 2022. Almost a year to write, then another six to eight months of quite intense querying. Alas, once again I decided to self-publish. It was about this time that Paula and I had begun the process of moving to France and my writing took a back seat, so I put the manuscript on hold and concentrated on moving to France.
Once settled I felt reinvigorated and have spent several months ‘tweaking’ the story and getting thorough proof-read done. I am publishing this one myself on Amazon, as both a paperback and an e-book. Both to be released on 24th February 2024, the eighth anniversary of my retirement from the Police.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Indomitable?
Indomitable is an historical fiction piece. But it is a fiction based on the life of my grandfather Karl. I was only three when he died, but his story is about our family, why he came to England from Germany in the 1890’s and his life through the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
I have always wanted to write his story; I just wish I had done it years ago when my grandmother and mother were still alive to help my research and give a first-hand account of some of the unimaginable events in his life.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Indomitable?
As mentioned above, there was so little information to study. My elder brother would have been about 12 when my grandfather died. He has more insight and memories than I and was most helpful with his stories and some photographs. The information from the National Archives at Kew was helpful, but still very limited. The ancestry websites gave me some more useful ideas and I gained knowledge and friendship of a lost cousin, Amanda, along the way.
There is very little information regarding Internment during World War One. But on the Isle of Man there is the Knockaloe Internment website, where I was given more details to flesh out the bones of my grandfather’s life.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
My Grandfather Karl inspired me. I didn’t know he did his National Service in Germany, despite already living in England. For him, it was the right thing to do and that seems to be a pattern of his life. As difficulties and obstacles were placed in front of him, he faced them all with stoicism and good humor, surrounding himself with a select group of close friends and family. It was easy to admire the life he lived and feel pain for his suffering.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
There was no one antagonist. I suppose for Karl it was his situation. Born in Germany, coming to live in England, then suffering through two World Wars, never quite sure where he was accepted. So, he was in conflict with the Geopolitical circumstances of his time.
What is the inciting incident of your book?
Karl is constantly challenged by the next incident of his life. He struggles to find an even keel or firm footing in his world but is continually unsettled by the next event. The theme of the story is resilience and overcoming life’s setbacks.
What is the main conflict of Indomitable?
Karl spends years trying to be legally endorsed in the country that he has made his home. For that tangible acceptance he endures over thirty years of trials and torments, but never loses sight of his goal.
Did you plot Indomitable in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
With this story I had the base framework from the life I knew of my grandfather. I had my timelines and as a consequence I could weave real life situations and people into my story, which was great fun to do. I did have to bend some of the dates a little to make my narrative work, but once the plan and research was done, I had the bulk of what I wanted.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Indomitable need?
Paula, as always, was my first sounding board. I then sent the draft manuscript to a good friend, who went through the work, making constructive comments about the language and grammar. He also suggested changing the ending, to help the reader travel full circle with the story. I then sent the amended work off to a professional proof-reader, who also made a series of suggested changes. After that I decided the story was just as I wanted it.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
It sounds obvious, but just write. Find a space, be it at a desk or in an armchair. Using either pencil or pen in a notebook or journal. Using a computer or tablet, just write. Get into the habit of writing anywhere. I have started making notes on my phone if an idea pops into my head. I wrote a chapter of Indomitable in a coffee shop, while my car was being serviced. Just write! Work out everything else later.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
While bringing Indomitable to publication I have been writing every day. I have almost completed a series of poems about the first nine years of my service as a Beat duty Police officer in London. Once again, it’s a change of genre, but I decided to try something new, and poetry is certainly that.
Over the recent festive period I made some notes about the idea of a story based around Christmas itself. I am very much looking forward to getting to grips with that, once the poetry book is in the system.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am incredibly proud of my work. I have written two novels and feel I am just getting into my stride. I love the writing. To sit down at a desk or makes notes in a journal, just pour out your words is just so satisfying. I have no targets or ambition of sales or success. I don’t really enjoy the process beyond writing, but you dip your toe in the water and see what happens?
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
On Facebook as: Guy Robin
On Instagram as: Guy Robin
On X (Twitter) as @GuyRobin_author
On LinkedIn as: Guy Robin
On Amazon author central as Guy Robin
My debut Novel ‘Dysfunction’ is available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book:
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