Robin Morgan-Bentley is the debut author of The Wreckage, a psychological thriller which was released on Audible earlier this year—and he is also an Audible employee! As the Senior Content Manager for Audible UK, Morgan-Bentley interviews creators across various genres for the Audible Sessions series. He’s always been interested in telling stories himself; these interviews inspired him to “dive in and actually write.”
His experience at Audible was ever-present in the writing process, and it shows in the audio version of The Wreckage, a story about a young man, Ben, whose commute is interrupted when another man, Adam, jumps in front of his car to end his own life. The accident brings Ben together with Alice, Adam’s widow, as he tries to cope and make amends.
Congratulations on your debut! You’ve said it was your job interviewing authors for Audible Sessions that inspired you to write down your own stories. Do you remember any conversations in particular that sparked something in you?
Yeah, I’ve been lucky over the time that I’ve worked at Audible to meet with authors from all different genres, and chatting to them about what has inspired them, their writing processes, and how they’ve juggled their writing around other professional and personal responsibilities really gave me an impetus to give it a go. It’s a scary thing to do, writing a novel, and I think often people need encouragement to dive in and actually write that first chapter. Specifically, I remember having a conversation with Fiona Barton, author of The Widow, and coming away from that thinking that I should open up a document and see what happens.
What was your writing process like? How long did it take you?
It was a lot of early Sunday mornings over a couple of years! I think if you speak to a lot of writers, they’ll tell you about the challenges of having to juggle writing with another full-time job. It’s important, I think, to dedicate set time and space to writing if you really want to make a go of it. For me, that’s the weekends, and so I have to drag myself out of bed and go off to a cafe to write. That’s been harder over the last few months, with Covid-19 restrictions and also since becoming a dad four months ago, but I’m doing my best! In total it took me about two years to write the first draft of The Wreckage.
What was it like to be working at Audible while having an audiobook in production at Audible?
I was consulted on the narrators, and so I was able to suggest Emilia Fox, Jack Hawkins and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith—all actors whom I have worked with at Audible, and whom I massively admire. Emilia is best known in the UK for starring in Silent Witness on TV, and has read so much for Audible, including lots of the classics. People might recognize Jack’s voice from the audiobook version of Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient. Kobna is best known in audio for Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series and he also played Ike Turner recently in the West End production of the Tina Turner musical. I sat in on about an hour of each narrator’s recording, and I have to admit I had to resist the temptation to lean over and hit the talkback button! The producer, Jo Green, is someone I’ve known for a while and she got amazing performances out of all three of them.
You have said Ben’s struggles with anxiety mirror some of your personal experiences. Why was it important to you to include this in the character?
I’m pretty open about the fact that I live with anxiety and depression, and have done since I was a teenager. I’ve read and listened to a lot of psychological thrillers over the years, and it strikes me that while it’s quite common to see a central female protagonist with mental health challenges, it has been rare for the focus to be on men who are having a hard time. In The Wreckage, you have two male characters with mental health challenges that manifest in very different ways. I think we’ve got better about talking about male mental health in nonfiction, and in general discourse, but it’s important to see it reflected in fiction too.
Juggling your full-time job and writing a novel must be a challenge. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Stop talking about it, and just do it. Write the first page. Don’t worry about planning if that daunts you like it did me—let it just come. You’ll probably come back and revise the first page a million times, but just put something down. It’s so much easier to write once the document isn’t completely blank.
To learn more about Robin Morgan-Bentley's debut thriller “The Wreckage,” listen to Audible Editor Abby West's interview with him.