BookPage’s March 2012 Mystery of the Month is Michael Robotham’s newest nail-biter, Bleed for Me. Writes Whodunit columnist Bruce Tierney, “Bleed for Me works on many levels, combining the insights of a trained psychologist; the savvy street smarts and irreverent observations of a retired cop; and intricate plotting from a first-rate author.”
BookPage had the pleasure of chatting with Robotham about books, evil spirits and much more.
Describe your book in one sentence.
A decorated detective lies dead on his daughter’s bedroom floor, but psychologist Joe O’Loughlin refuses to accept that traumatised teenager is guilty of murder and believes the real killer is manipulating her.
Where do you write?
I recently moved house, which has meant a change of writing location. Previously, I had an office in the basement, which my daughters referred to as “Dad’s pit of despair.” My new writing room is on the mezzanine level. They’ve been trying to come up with a new name. The best so far is “Dad’s mezzanine of misery.”
What are your favorite scenes to write?
I loved writing the scenes where Joe O’Loughlin is talking to his own teenage daughter, Charlie, trying to uncover her secrets and understand her motives:
She’s telling me I don’t understand. I’ll never understand. I’m old. I’m stupid. I have no taste in clothes or music or friends. I don’t own the right language to talk to her. I don’t dread the same things or dream the same dreams. I’m losing touch with her, caught in that place between being a father and a friend or an authority figure.
Meanwhile, she’s seeking independence, wanting her own government, laws and budget like a separate nation state. Whenever I try to avoid conflict, choosing diplomacy instead, she keeps massing her troops at the border, accusing me of spying or sabotaging her life.
Would you make a good detective?
My mother always wanted me to be a detective, which is a strange ambition for a mother to have for her son. I think I would have been quite good at piecing together puzzles, but hopeless at the dangerous stuff and frustrated at the deal making. In fiction I can write the ending. In real life we don’t have that sort of freedom or control.
Name one book people might be surprised to know you have read.
Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins. (As a young journalist, aged 22, I interviewed Jackie when she was promoting Hollywood Wives in Australia. She signed my book, “To Michael, you give great interview!”)
Of all the characters you’ve ever written, which is your favorite?
Joe O’Loughlin is probably the most autobiographical in the sense that we’re both about the same age. We both have daughters. We have similar views politically and socially. He’s a far braver version of me. He’s more just and more patient. I love all my characters but do some terrible things to them. Maybe I’m warding off my own evil spirits.
What are you working on next?
I’m putting the finishing touches to another dark psychological thriller called Say You’re Sorry, which features psychologist Joe O’Loughin and former detective Vincent Ruiz. Two teenage girls disappear from a small town and create a mystery that remains unsolved for three years until one of the girls turns up dead, having perished in a blizzard. She’s been alive all this time, which begs the question: where is her friend?