Michael Robotham, author of Watching You
Tell us about your latest creation:
WATCHING YOU is a psychological thriller featuring some family characters – psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and former detective Vincent Ruiz. It also introduces someone new – Marnie Logan, a mother of two, whose husband has been missing for more than a year. Suffering from blackouts and increasingly desperate, Marnie has always had a sense that she’s being watched – ever since she was a young girl – but now she’s suffering from blackouts and gaps in her memory. Enter psychologist Joe O’Loughlin who offers to help, but the closer he looks at Marnie, the more he begins to doubt her story. Is she being haunted by some past tragedy – or is there someone very real and dangerous watching her?
I was born in Casino in northern NSW and grew up in country towns like Gundagai and Coffs Harbour. Now I live on Sydney’s northern beaches.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?:
I wanted to be a writer from the age of about 12 when I discovered the writings of Ray Bradbury, who is best known for Fahrenheit 451. I wrote a letter to Bradbury and he wrote back, sending me several books that weren’t available in Australia. It was that generosity that made me want to become a writer. What do you consider to be your best work? Why?: Asking a writer to nominate his or her best work is like asking a parent, ‘Which is your favourite child?’
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
My children call my office ‘Dad’s Cabana of Cruelty’. It’s a lovely place for writing such dark stories.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
I read very widely – not just crime writers, although I have my favourites. I’m a big fan of James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Gillian Flynn, Peter Temple and Laura Lippman.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
Lord of the Rings was a defining book for me. It was the first book I ever felt I ‘earned’. I re-read it so often that Mrs Fitzpatrick, my school librarian, forbade me taking it out again. I took to hiding it in the library. She caught me one recess and instead of punishing me, she gifted me the book. I still have it today.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
Homer Wells – the orphan that nobody wanted in John Irving’s Cider House Rules. His was a life full of tragedy, but he also great love. He is a true prince of Maine and King of New England.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
This is really boring. I have no hobbies. Writing is my passion, my hobby, my career. It’s what I do. And when I’m not writing, I’m reading.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
Writers and alcohol have always had a close relationship. For me it’s a reward for a day at my desk. A glass of white wine. A gin & tonic. A Bloody Mary….don’t get me started.
Who is your hero? Why?:
I admire the unsung heroes, those people who care for our sick, elderly and disabled, who earn low pay and are constantly told the coffers are empty whenever they ask for more. Why is that CEOs never make the same sacrifices?
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
The biggest challenge facing books will partly come from the technology but also from changing public perceptions. Piracy looms, but perhaps a greater threat is the tsunami of cheap self-published titles flooding the marketplace – creating a new generation of readers who think a book is only worth 99c.