Michael Robotham – best known for writing the best-selling Joe O’Loughlin series of novels – has spread his thoughts further afield this time around and written Life of Death (Little Brown), which follows the story of Audie Palmer a convicted murderer who has escaped from prison in the USA just one day before his intended release.
‘The idea for Life or Death came to me almost 20 years ago, when a man called Anthony Gerard Sebastion Lanigan, a 47 year old convicted killer turned model prisoner, escaped from Malabar Training Centre nursery in Australia and ran away,’ explained Michael. ‘Lanigan had pulled the same stunt two years earlier, when he escaped, took a train to Katoomba, spent a night under the stars and then next day waved down a paddy wagon and gave himself up. So, this time, when he nobody bothered ringing the police and the prison warders thought Lanigan would just spend another night away then knock on the door saying, ‘let me back in,’ only he didn’t show up. He’s never shown up. He’s never been seen since. There are no reward offers, appeals or fresh leads. Tony Lanigan is probably Australia’s least most wanted fugitive, but it’s still a mystery. And like all crime writers I can’t resist a mystery. Life Or Death is my tenth novel and one that I am immensely proud of.’
Assigned to finding and capturing Audie is FBI Special Agent Desiree Furness, who has issues of her own. ‘I try to create characters who live and breathe in my imagination; they characters grow as I write them. If they seem real to me, they’ll hopefully seem real to readers. One way to make a character memorable is to give them quirks and foibles – a particular way of speaking or dressing, or a telling phrase that sums them up. I decided to make Desiree very short. She makes fun of herself, but her stature has fired her with a greater determination to be tall in other ways and to stand out in a male dominated profession as a special agent with the FBI.’ So, is the Special Agent likely to return in the future? ‘I don’t know. I’d like to set another book in the States, so she may crop up again. Whenever I write from a female perspective I fall in love with them. When I wrote The Night Ferry completely from the first person female point-of-view of Alisha Barba, my wife had to come to terms with the fact that I spent a year having an affair with another woman.’
Life or Death by Michael Robotham is available now. For more information: www.michaelrobotham.com