Michael Robotham is a former investigative journalist whose bestselling psychological thrillers have been translated into twenty-five languages. He has twice won a Ned Kelly Award for Australia’s best crime novel, for Lost in 2005 and Shatter in 2008. His recent novels include When She Was Good, winner of the UK’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller; The Secrets She Keeps; Good Girl, Bad Girl; When You Are Mine; and Lying Beside You. After living and writing all over the world, Robotham settled his family in Sydney, Australia.
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Read our review of Lying Beside You.
Photograph by Tony Mott
What does your writing space look like?
I work in a very nice office in my garden, set among tropical plants, overlooking a swimming pool, which sometimes makes it very difficult to conjure up the dark and gritty mean streets. In our previous house, I had an office in the basement, which my children nicknamed, ‘Dad’s Pit of Despair’. Now I work in the ‘Cabana of Cruelty.’
If you could spend a day with another popular author (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
No question, it would be Stephen King. Many years ago, when my fourth novel came out, SHATTER, Stephen King happened to pick it up. He wrote a magazine article calling it has number one book of the summer and one of the best three books he’d read all year. Since then, he seems to make a point of reading every new novel of mine and tweeting nice things. We have only ever exchanged a few lines via email, but I would love to meet him one day, and tell him face to face how much I love his work and appreciate his kindness. After that first time, I said to my wife, ‘I could retire now and happily tell my grandchildren that the great Stephen King, the finest storyteller of his generation, once called me “a master”. That would be enough.’
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
I finish every book convinced that I’ll never write another because I have used up every good one-liner, description, idea, plot twist, character description and red herring. I am an empty vessel, destined to get a real job. The true celebration comes when the book arrives, fully printed. I look at the jacket, open the pages, read a few lines and stick my nose inside. The smell of a new book is so intoxicating, I’m surprised that it’s legal.
Is there something you do/have while writing that helps your process? (Music, snacks, etc.)
Fear. The fear of failure. The fear of being exposed as a lucky amateur. The fear of running out of ideas. The fear of writer’s block. Always fear.
What book are you currently reading?
Just today, I started reading THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Patchet because I realised it was a gap in my reading. She is one of those writers that doesn’t so much inspire me as depress me – because I know I will never be that good. But still I keep trying.