The Voice, a Guest Post from Michael Robotham, author of Close Your Eyes

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I’m thrilled to be part of the paperback launch celebrations of Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham. The paperback Close Your Eyes was published by Sphere on 22nd September 2016. Close Your Eyes is available for purchase from all good book sellers including your local Amazon site, Barnes and Noble and Waterstones.

To celebrate the paperback edition of Close Your Eyes, the eighth book in the Joseph O’Loughlin series, I have a wonderful guest post from Michael Robotham on capturing voices in his writing and how he created Joe.

Close Your Eyes

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I close my eyes and feel my heart begin racing
Someone is coming
They’re going to find me

A mother and her teenage daughter are found murdered in a remote farmhouse, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other left lying like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her Prince. Reluctantly, clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is drawn into the investigation when a former student, calling himself ‘the Mindhunter’, jeopardises the police inquiry by leaking details to the media and stirring up public anger.

With no shortage of suspects and tempers beginning to fray, Joe discover links between these murders and a series of brutal attacks where his victims have been choked unconscious and had the letter ‘A’ carved into their foreheads.

As the case becomes ever more complex, nothing is quite what it seems and soon Joe’s fate, and that of those closest to him, become intertwined with a merciless, unpredictable killer . . .

The Voice

A Guest Post by Michael Robotham

Before I became a crime writer, sometime in the last century, I made my living as a ghostwriter, helping the great and the good (and the less good) to pen their autobiographies. I did fifteen of these projects – most of which I can’t mention – but they included books with politicians, pop stars, TV entertainers, soldiers, psychologists and survivors.

Every one of these people came from different backgrounds and had led different lives. Lulu, for example, grew up in the tenements of Glasgow and left school at fourteen. Ricky Tomlinson was a plasterer from Liverpool who spent five years in jail as a political prisoner. Geri Halliwell grew up in Watford, singing into a hairbrush, dreaming of being Madonna.

Like a portrait painter, I started with a blank canvas and slowly added colour and texture. I had to look at the world through their eyes and capture their voice. If I succeeded, I knew the autobiography would look and sound and feel exactly as though they had dictated their life stories directly onto the page.

When I became a crime writer I approached my writing in exactly the same way, only this time I was dealing with a fictional narrator. His name was Joe O’Loughlin, a clinical psychologist with early onset Parkinson’s Disease, who was reluctantly drawn into a murder investigation.

Writing in the first person, I treated Joe as though he was another client, sitting by my side, telling me his story. And just like with Lulu and Geri Halliwell and Ricky Tomlinson – I had capture Joe’s voice. He had to live and breathe in my imagination. He had to become real.

I remember the moment it happened. I wrote this paragraph:

Each morning when I drag myself out of bed, I know what sort of day I’m going to have if I can bend down and tie my shoes. If it’s early in the week and I’m rested, I will have little trouble getting the fingers of my left hand to cooperate. Buttons will find buttonholes, belts will find belt-loops and I can even tie a Windsor knot. On my bad days, such as this one, the man I see in the mirror will need two hands to shave and will arrive at the breakfast table with bits of toilet paper stuck to his neck and chin.

That was it! I had Joe O’Loughlin’s voice – his self-deprecating sense of humour, his humility and his humanity.

I didn’t expect Joe to be a series character. I thought that first novel, The Suspect, would be a standalone. It was only after I’d finished that my publishers and readers began asking when Joe was coming back.

I compromised. He became a lesser character in the next two books, before I brought him back as the narrator in Shatter in 2008 because it was the perfect story for Joe to tell. Ever since then I’ve kept writing about Joe because my wife refuses to sleep with me unless I sort out his personal life and make him happy.

All of which explains why Joe O’Loughlin is back in my newest novel Close Your Eyes, a dark psychological thriller about a mother and teenage daughter who are murdered in a remote farmhouse in North Somerset, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other left lying like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her Prince.

Nothing about the case makes sense to Joe. Why would the killer show such anger towards one victim and love towards the other? Who was the real target? And what the murders have to do with a series of recent attacks where people are choked unconscious and have the letter ‘A’ carved into their foreheads?

There are twists and turns and red herrings in this story; and I warn you that not everybody will be saved. The only certainties are these – the story is dramatic and my wife is sleeping in the spare room.

About Michael Robotham

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Before becoming a novelist, Michael Robotham was an investigative journalist working across Britain, Australia and America. He is the author of twelve Sunday Times bestsellers, both fiction and non-fiction. He has also worked as a ghostwriter for prominent military figures and star performers, as well as in the fields of science, sport and psychology. Michael’s haunting psychological thrillers have been translated into twenty-three languages and are currently in development for TV by Bonafide Films. He is a two time winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Australia’s Crime Novel of the Year. He has twice been shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger and won the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger Award in 2015 for Life or Death.

You can find out more by following Michael Robotham on Twitter or visiting his website.

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