Lynette Pinches writes for the Nottingham Post…
Walk into any trendy coffee shop in Nottingham and you’ll see at least one person sitting in front of a laptop. One such person was Darren Young but he wasn’t surfing the net or checking out social media. The 45-year-old was hard at work, writing his first novel Child Taken, which will be launched at Waterstones on May 18.
Over the last two years, Darren wrote virtually every one of the 110,000 words sitting in 200 Degrees coffee shop in the city centre.
“Some days the coffee was the only thing that got me through the day,” said the father-of-two, whose day job is helping companies improve their customer service.
The thriller revolves around the disappearance of a child from the beach and the discovery of an explosive secret 20 years later.
Inspiration for the plot came after new developments in the Ben Needham case – the toddler who disappeared on the Greek island of Kos in 1991.
Darren said: “I heard a radio news bulletin where they were talking about a guy in Cyprus being asked to go into the police station to give DNA and it got me thinking.”
Darren, who recently moved from Arnold to West Bridgford, toyed with the idea of writing a novel for two years but turned into a burning ambition just as 200 Degrees opened in the Flying Horse Walk in 2014.
“I guess it got serious at that point. In those early days, before it got as popular, it was easier to get a seat,” said Walsall-born Darren, who has lived in Nottingham since 2003.
The noise of the coffee machine and buzz of chatter wasn’t a distraction as he typed away on his Samsung laptop.
He said: “Generally over the last year it has got louder and a little more livelier. I found the noise level and atmosphere quite calming. When I tried to write somewhere else it was quiet and I found it off-putting. I tried to work at home and I couldn’t do it. It was it was too quiet… and I do get easily distracted.”
As a daily visitor, he saw more of the coffee shop workers than his wife Luisa. “I was doing a full-time job and writing this in secret, only my wife knew about it.
“She has had to put up with the fact I have not been at home for two-and-a-half-years and she’s had to sacrifice a lot of things.
“I was lucky that I could do my job in here. I would get here just after it opened, around 8am and do a quick hour of writing. Then I would sit here doing my day job and stop late afternoon and then start writing again, staying until kicking out time at 8pm. I got to know some of the staff. They didn’t know what I was doing but they have always been really good with me.
“You get to know the other people. That guy in the corner and I have become good friends – you share a common time and space.”
It would have been easily to overdose on caffeine, but he restricted himself to two or three mocha a day.
Me trying to write my next book!
Readers on the book review site Goodreads.com have rated the book five stars, with one declaring it to be the best debut book they had read. Another described it as the best thriller they had ever read.
The book will be launched at Waterstones in Bridlesmith Gate on Thursday, May 18 at 7pm. And the after-party? There was one obvious place – the coffee shop where it all began.
“This place has been with me pretty much from day one so why would I not have the party in here? I will be providing something a little bit stronger than coffee…”
Darren, who has a son Alessio 12, and daughter, Emilia, ten, is already writing his second thriller – this time about the world of heart transplants.
Rob Darby, co-founder of 200 Degrees, said: “Darren is one of our regulars and whilst we know lots of people come here to work it’s fantastic to learn that 200 Degrees’ coffee has helped fuel his creative drive to write an entire book.
“We wish him every success with this and all of the other books he’s going to write.”
For more information visit darrenyoungauthor.com