Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interview with Steve Cavanagh

Welcome to the latest issue of 9mm, where a crime writer answers nine quickfire questions about themselves, giving all of us a chance to get to know them, and their writing, a little better.

Today I'm very pleased to share my recent interview with talented Northern Irish writer Steve Cavanagh, whose debut, the US-set legal thriller THE DEFENSE, has been hailed by the judges of several prestigious crime writing awards in recent days. THE DEFENCE was yesterday longlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and earlier had been shortlisted in two categories at the Dead Good Reader Awards (best ending, and most recommended book).

So Cavanagh is certainly a writer on the rise, turning plenty of heads with his impressive debut. Legal thrillers are huge in the US, but don't seem to have been written quite so much by other English-speaking authors, so it's terrific to see Cavanagh's fresh take on an exciting genre.

In THE DEFENCE, con-artist turned top trial lawyer Eddie Flynn hasn't practised law for a year after a case that cost him his career and family. But when the head of the Russian Mafia in New York City makes him an offer he can't refuse - kidnapping Eddie's 10-year-old daughter Amy - he's forced to head back to the courtroom to attempt the impossible. As the clock ticks down, the stakes are raised, as the Mafia Don has deadly plans for how Eddie can neutralise the prosecution's star witness.

But for now, Steve Cavanagh becomes the 117th author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective? 
Impossible to pick just one. John Connolly’s Charlie Parker has to be up there. He is an incredibly damaged man, yet funny, gentle, vengeful and he’s searching for a path to salvation. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is always a joy, as is Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy, Ian Rankin’s Rebus. And then the classics, Marlowe, Rumpole, Dave Robicheaux. 

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?  
Probably The Lord of the Rings. For a while in my teens I read that book every single Christmas. It just resonated with me – not sure why.

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles 
Between the ages of say 18 and 21 – I wrote screenplays. Mostly comedies. I managed to get an agent but never sold anything and just gave up. It wasn’t until I was 35 that I started writing again. THE DEFENCE was the first thing I did, and it sold.

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise? 
There’s not a lot of time outside of writing, I have to say. My favourite thing is spending time with my family. I’ve got two young kids and they are great fun. It’s also great to get a night out with my wife. Apart from that, the occasional night in a bar suits me well.

What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider (ie is not a famous, Lonely Planet kind of thing)? 
The black taxi tour is really good. You get in a cab and the driver gives you the insider view of the Troubles. A hidden gem in Belfast is Long’s fish and chip shop. Some of the best fish and chips in Ireland and handy for the Crown Bar.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you? 
My life would be a terrible movie. No-one should be subjected to that.

Of your books, which is your favourite, and why? 
Well, THE DEFENCE is my debut novel, although I’ve just finished the sequel which will be published next year. So for that reason I have to pick my first book, as it’s the only one that exists so far.

What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf? 
My agent told me he was going to send the book out to publishers at the start of September 2013. He told me it can take a while and that I shouldn't expect to hear anything for a while, it could take a month or more to hear back.

So I bit my nails.

I got an email five days later from my agent letting me know that he was about to hold a series of auctions for publishing rights. That’s an email you never forget. I was in the hall of my house, and I remember thinking “it’s definitely going to be published.” To celebrate I took the whole family to Disneyland Paris.

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival? 
Meeting some big bearded weirdo called Craig Sisterson.

Thank you Steve. We appreciate you taking the time to chat with Crime Watch. 


You can find out more about Steve Cavanagh and THE DEFENCE here: 


1 comment:

  1. The Defence sits on the pile, I ought to read it soon. In my own defence - I have too many good books to get through!