International bestseller and master of crime visits Maleny

By Sonia Isaacs

ONE of the world’s most celebrated bestselling crime authors, Michael Robotham, will be coming to Maleny.
With an impressive sales history of 8.5 million books, various TV series adaptations, and a devoted international fan base eagerly awaiting his latest psychological thriller, this world-renowned ‘master of crime’ is currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first book, The Suspect, released in 2004.
He has since published eighteen bestselling novels with methodical regularity.
Despite his work often depicting the dark and complex undercurrents of human nature, and writing from a room in his Sydney home dubbed his “cabana of cruelty,” Michael comes across as an affable yet perceptive conversationalist. Speaking with GC&M News, Michael shared that while writing a novel can be an incredibly solitary experience, getting out and meeting readers on tour is very rewarding.
“It’s so nice to eventually get out and meet people that love books – that’s always exciting,” he said.
Michael said he considers himself fortunate that his success has allowed him to be a full-time novelist, supported by a family life that encourages his focus on writing.
“I generally write every day from 9am to 5pm, though if I go a day without writing I suddenly start to panic that it’s a really terrible book, and this will be the one that finally exposes me as a complete and utter fraud,” he laughed.
Writing each of his books, he likened to driving at night. “Where you can only see as far as the headlights, but remain confident that you will eventually reach your destination,” he said.
“Also, I don’t plot in advance; a bit like climbing a mountain where you don’t know where the top is.
“At any given stage of the book, if I finish a scene and I can see that I’ve got four or five different ways the story can go, then I’m really comfortable.”
Most of Michael’s stories are seeded in real-life events, and he said he processes the inevitable darkness in his books through humour.
Initially working as a journalist and later as a ghostwriter, Michael credits much of his knowledge of criminal psychology to having worked closely with high-profile British forensic psychologist Paul Britton, the inspiration for the TV series Cracker. “Paul taught me a lot; that people aren’t born evil and society gets the monsters it deserves,” he noted.
“I think the way darkness can work on the page is if you also give the reader the chance to laugh, relax and breathe.”
Michael said as a previous ghostwriter, he would spend months with people to capture their voice, but ensure when put to the page nobody could recognise his fingerprints. “It would look and sound exactly like their words. I treat my fictional characters the same way – they live and breathe in my mind,” he said.
“That’s one of the ways you bring the reader with you, if you create characters people care about and then you do terrible things to them – which sounds awful! Basically, you create characters people fall in love with and then you think what’s the worst thing that could happen!”
Michael has just published his latest novel, Storm Child, and will appear at a special literary lunch event to discuss highlights from his 20 years of publishing. Hosted by Rosetta Books at Tranquil Park, Maleny, on Sunday, July 21 at 12pm.