An Interview with Robin Driscoll

Updated: Feb 19

Robin Driscoll is a screenwriter turned novelist, best known for his role as the primary writer for Mr Bean. Several years ago, he took up a new writing challenge and is now a mystery thriller author.

When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?

That would be around four years ago. Before that I’d spent nearly thirty years writing comedy for stage and TV. I’m in my early sixties now and comedy has changed to keep pace with the times, which is only natural. Young audiences need young writers and there are some great ones out there. I’ve been lucky to have had a career ‘making’ things and the switch to writing books allows me to carry on doing so.

Why do you write? What drives you to do it?

The short answer is ego. Choosing to earn my living as a writer and performer required an audience. Earning money aside, it was the level of applause I received for a job well done that drove me on to the next. My main drive, though, has come from people who told me that I would never be able to write or be on television. I’ve worked hard to prove them wrong and will continue to do so.

How did you learn story structure?

I learned a lot about storytelling by attending lectures by scriptwriting gurus, Robert McKee, John Truby and Jurgen Wolff. Also by reading a lot of books on the subject. But mostly I learned on my feet; writing and performing on stage with a touring theatre where your audiences soon tell you when you’ve got it wrong. Plot structure is necessary when writing a story, but that doesn’t mean we can’t break the rules.

What is your writing schedule like and how do you plan your stories?

I don’t really have a writing schedule because when I start a book I really don’t know how long it’s going to take me. My very first book, ‘Rough Music’, took five years after I discovered how different the process was from writing scripts.

The first two in my Josie King mystery series, ‘The Unborn’ and ‘Still Warm’, took about four or five months each. I’m presently in the middle of the third in the series, ‘Remote.’ I’m not sure how long it will take as it’s being naughty and uncooperative at the moment and will get a smacked knee if it doesn’t buck up.

Do you have any particular writing habits, e.g. a place you like to sit or a favourite time of day to write?

I tend to write mostly in the mornings. I’m very slow because I’m impatient and tend to do my research as I go along rather than in a great lump at the start. There was a time when I’d print out what I’d written, pop the pages into my bag with a notebook, and set off to the pub or café where I would sit in a corner and edit it. Now I send the pages to my Kindle address and edit on my phone. Oh, how I love technology.

Do you tend to base your settings and characters on real places and people?

I have mostly visited or stayed in the places mentioned in my books. And if I haven’t, Google has. I can’t say that I’ve based my characters on particular people but certainly have on people-types. I find people’s speech patterns interesting. And I do amuse myself by using the names of friends in my books. Josie King is an actual friend. A great name for a sleuth, I thought. She has a Boston terrier called Sox who is also in the series.

Do you have a favourite book, place, or character from your own work?

My favourite book would be ‘Rough Music.’ I don’t know why but probably because it was my first baby. My favourite character is Josie King, though. She does and says things that I don’t think I could get away with being a man. It’s fun to be in her head.

Which three words would you use to describe your writing?