A Guest Post from Steve Cavanagh, author of The Defense

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As a blogger I ‘meet’ an awful lot of authors and I’m delighted that Steve Cavanagh is one of them. Steve writes gripping thrillers that are published by Orion and which can be found on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Waterstones, WH Smith and purchased directly from Orion.

Steve’s latest book, The Defense was released March, but is also out today, 3rd May 2016, in the US with Flatiron Booksand he kindly agreed to answer some questions I had about place and character in a guest post that you can read below.

The Defense

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Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turned out the two weren’t that different.

It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter, Amy. Eddie only has forty-eight hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial – and win – if he wants to save his daughter.

Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?

A Sense of Place and Character

A Guest Post by Steve Cavanagh

Is there a link from your Irish background to New York?

New York is one of those cities in the US which has very strong links to Ireland. And Brooklyn, in particular, had a large Irish population. I wanted my main character to be at least partly Irish so that I would have some kind of basic connection to him. So I made Eddie Flynn’s father Irish, and his mother Italian: A deadly mixture. In terms of creating a sense of place, I relied on the characters to do a lot of that work for me. If the characters are authentic, I think you get a real sense of where they come from and what shaped them through their actions, their dialogue, and sensibility. In terms of creating a real sense of New York, well, I have two confessions. First, I cheated. If I had set the book somewhere like Atlantic city, or Austin, or somewhere like that – I would’ve had to do a great deal of work in describing that city. When you read the words “New York city,” or even “Manhattan,” because that place is already indelibly inscribed in our psyche via TV shows and movies, I don’t have to do a great deal of work describing the place. The reader’s imagination does it for me. Second confession – I have never been to New York. Or the United States. But I am going at the end of April for the first time…

Does your legal background help or hinder your settings in your novels – do you have to curb your descriptions or is it difficult to summon enthusiasm for things you know too well?

At first I didn’t take too much time describing the courtroom. Nearly everyone has seen the inside of a courtroom, so you know the basic set up. But for this novel I wanted to create a fictional courthouse with real character. Most of the novel is set in the Chambers Street Courthouse which is no longer a functioning courthouse – it’s now part of the Department of Education. So I took the basics of that building and exaggerated it, made it a lot more gothic. So it’s much larger, more imposing and the building itself is falling to bits. In a way, the courthouse is a metaphor for the justice system itself. My editor did suggest a more detailed description of the courtroom, and with my legal background I suppose I had overlooked it a little so I added that in just to orientate the reader.

Did your early attempts at screen writing help or hinder a sense of place?

My screenplays were full length features, and none of them were optioned. Writing for the big screen is very much a director’s medium, so I was always careful to be sparse with describing the geography, and the setting.

Is place important at all in character driven writing with Eddie Flynn? And can setting constrain or enhance the plot?

I think setting is important, but it’s not the defining aspect of my style of writing. Some novels have setting as one of their main focal points, and I’m thinking about Scandi-crime I suppose when I talk about this. For me, setting is important for the tone, and for centering the reader in a world, but character is much more crucial to me. I suppose some readers will pick up a book because of the location, but I can’t write those sorts of books. I’m always much more interested in people than places or weather. People make stories, not windswept beaches or skyscrapers. In terms of plot, the setting can be a force in that story, but it’s always merely the stage. People come back to books for the actors on that stage.

About Steve Cavanagh

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Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast and is a practicing lawyer. He is married with two young children. The Defense was longlisted for the UK Crime Writer’s Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for THRILLER OF THE YEAR 2015, and shortlisted for two Dead Good Readers Awards for MOST RECOMMENDED BOOK and BEST ENDING.

Steve writes fast-paced legal thrillers set in New York City featuring former con artist, turned trial lawyer, Eddie Flynn. The Defense is his first novel.

You can find out more about Steve Cavanagh on his website or follow him on Twitter. You’ll also find him on Facebook.

The Plea

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Steve’s next novel, The Plea, will be released by Orion on 19th May and is available for pre-order here.

When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm.

Eddie’s not a man to be coerced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price.

When Eddie meets Child he’s convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.

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