It’s so hard to be a good guy when Russians ask you to spy for them in postwar Berlin, especially when you owe those Russians big time—but David Downing’s character John Russell does his best in Lehrter Station. Whodunit columnist Bruce Tierney promises Downing’s “deft weaving of fiction and real-life WWII history is second to none.”
BookPage chatted with Downing about his newest thriller.
Describe your book in one sentence.
Lehrter Station is the fifth instalment of John Russell’s (and Effi Koenen’s) struggle to survive the slings and arrows of the mid-20th century as reasonably decent human beings.
If you could travel back in time to any decade, where would you go and what would you do while you were there?
Back in early 1966, when I was at university, Bob Dylan played the Royal Albert Hall with the backing group that became The Band, and for some strange reason I didn’t bother to go. I’d like to remedy that omission.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Walking the hills near my home and thinking through plots.
Would you make a good spy?
No. I don’t dissemble that well.
Where do you write?
In my office at home, surrounded by other people’s books.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
When your characters start surprising you, you’re doing something right.
What are you working on next?
I’ve just finished what I hope will be the first of a new series, set before, during and after the First World War, and now I’m working on what will probably be the last of the Russell series, Masaryk Station. Still no idea how to end it.