Robert Bryndza, lauded for his Erica Foster series (The Girl in the Ice), has published a new action-packed novel, Nine Elms, a bone-chilling serial-killer thriller with an endearing protagonist named Kate Marshall. Bryndza, 40, studied English and drama at Aberystwyth University in Wales before receiving a postgraduate degree from Guildford School of Acting in Surrey, England. He is also known for his romantic comedies, including Miss Wrong and Mr. Right and The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard. In a recent phone interview, the author explained why he shifts gears. “I love comedy. I loved performing comedy on stage, and I wrote humor before murder,’’ he said. “But I realized writing murder is cathartic. That old saying is true. Dying is easy. Writing comedy is really hard.’’ Bryndza, an English native, now lives in Slovakia.
What’s on you nightstand?
I have Stephen King’s The Institute. I’ve been a huge Stephen King fan for a long time. He’s been a massive inspiration. I also have Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks. Her nephew found her old notebooks she used when plotting. She’d grab a notebook and start writing. It’s amazing as a reader and a writer. It normalizes my image of her. She writes about everyday life. On one page she plans her Christmas list and on another page she’s plotting a book.
What do you think is King’s greatest skill?
He finds that thing in a character that makes you care about that character. He makes you want to know the character.
And did Secret Notebooks change your view on Christie?
I see her now as a disorganized genius. I knew she was brilliant, but seeing her notebooks actually helped me. You always have doubts about yourself as a writer, and to see her so human was inspirational. It’s an amazing window of who she really was.
What are your favorite books by King and Christie?
For Agatha it is Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Was One. For Stephen King there were so many. Maybe 11/22/63, about the death of (President John F.) Kennedy, and also The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.