(That's him now, is it?) Yes it is. (Still not too many wrinkles and lines then.) No, but his portrait is a shocker – eat your heart out Dorian. Photo courtesy of Michael Robotham.

Michael Robotham (Cont.)

Do you still live in paradise on Sydney’s northern beaches and spend a lot of time on the beach loafing about?

‘Loafing about? I wish! I moved house recently. I no longer have a basement office “the pit of despair”. Instead my children have coined a new term for my office. It is the “cabana of cruelty”. This is where I spend about twelve hours a day, wrestling with words and characters that won’t do as they’re told.’

You go away on a lot of promotional tours. When you come home, does your family recognise you? On average, how often and for how long are you away from home on tour each year? Is this a strain?

‘It was tough when my girls were younger. They would go to school with a photograph of me in their schoolbags just to remind them that I existed. I would also make calendars so they could mark off the days.

‘It’s easier now that they’re teenagers. Even when I’m home they hibernate in their rooms, surfacing only to eat, ask for money and suggest things I could buy for them on my next trip to New York.  

‘I’m normally away for about six to eight weeks a year, but when I’m home I’m there for them every morning when they wake up and every night when they go to bed. Not many fathers can say that.’

You used to talk to yourself when you were writing. Do you still do that, and do you have an animal companion to soothe the savage breast when things aren’t going right?

‘I still talk to myself – I’m doing it now as I type. And, as of a few weeks ago, we have a new addition to the family, a Russian Blue kitten called Alphie. He’s still too young to go outside, but I expect he’ll find his way to the “cabana of cruelty”, which is a nice suntrap in the mornings.’

Michael still sends his mother his books to read when they come out. After she had read Bleed for Me, she insisted that he had to change it. It was a bit late to do that, he told her, but what exactly was it that she wanted him to change. ‘That scene with the dog; it was awful,’ she said, ‘and I spent the entire book thinking it's going to happen to the cat next.’

So, did he try for his mum’s seal of approval with his latest book Say You’re Sorry?

‘My Mum thinks the new one is rather dark, but is happy that no animals were harmed in the process (she didn’t mention the dog freezing to death). She’s not a gusher or a boaster, but she’s proud of all her children.’

All your novels are currently set in the UK. If you could choose a subject and a place in Australia about which to write an Australian novel, what and where would that be?

‘My great unpublished Australian novel is still sitting in the bottom drawer. One of these days I’m going to blow off the dust and read it again with a view to a re-write. It’s called God’s Waiting Room, a mystery set in a small fishing town in Australia involving the murder of a teenage girl. One family is ostracized after the crime and the wrong man has willingly gone to prison.’

So how is life these days for Michael Robotham, crime thriller writer extraordinaire? Are you feeling less insecure than you used to?

‘I’m less self-conscious about whether I can write a book or not but I still have major doubts at various times in the process. I write myself into corners, or off cliffs, or begin to doubt the premise. So far, I’ve managed to come out the other side.’

Thank you Michael Robotham! Michael’s new book Say You’re Sorry was released in Australia and New Zealand on 15 August 2012. No one will be disappointed.

© Please note: This interview is copyright to Michael Robotham and L.J. May. If anyone would like to use all or any part of it you need to ask Michael nicely. Go to his website to contact him.

The Books

The Suspect (2004)

This is Michael Robotham’s first novel and introduces both clinical psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, and Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz.

London psychologist, Joseph O’Loughlin, seems to have the perfect life, with a beautiful wife, an adoring daughter and a thriving practice to which he brings great skill and compassion. But he’s also facing a future overshadowed by Parkinson’s disease.

When Joe is called in on a gruesome murder investigation, he discovers that the victim is a young woman he once knew as a patient. Feeling unable to tell the police what he knows, O’Loughlin tells one small lie. This turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life. DI Vincent Ruiz is convinced that he’s guilty of the murder and refuses to listen to Joe’s assertion that he is being framed by Bobby Morgan, a former patient, who appears to be killing off everyone involved in having him declared a ward of the state as a child.

The Drowning Man [published as Lost in the USA] (2005)

Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz is found one night clinging to a buoy in the River Thames with a bullet in his leg, and a bigger hole in his memory. Under investigation by his colleagues, and accused of faking amnesia, DI Ruiz’s only hope of unravelling the puzzle is to retrace his steps and relive that night. But there are further dangers lying in wait.

Three years before, seven-year-old Mickey Carlyle went missing from her home, presumably kidnapped and killed by paedophile Howard Wavell, who was charged with her murder – although the body was never found. Everyone believes the girl is dead except DI Ruiz and her mother, Rachel, separated from the child’s father, Russian gangster Aleksei Kuznet – who receives a ransom note three years after Mickey’s disappearance. Although he has been dismissed from the force, Ruiz and his friend, clinical psychologist, Joseph O’Loughlin, refuse to give up the search.

The Night Ferry (2007)

Detective Alisha Barba is on her feet again after a murder suspect broke her back across a brick wall. She receives a message from an old school friend, Cate, who is eight months pregnant and in trouble. On the night they arrange to meet, Cate is mown down by the car that kills her husband instantly.

As paramedics fight to save Cate’s life, Alisha and her old boss, Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz, uncover a series of haunting and elaborate deceptions. These take Alisha from the East End of London to Amsterdam’s red-light district and into a murky underworld of sex and baby trafficking, slavery and exploitation. As the mystery unravels, both Vincent and Alisha find themselves confronting their own prejudices and questioning the laws they have sworn to uphold.

Shatter (2008)

A naked woman is poised on the edge of the Clifton Suspension Bridge outside of Bristol. Clinical psychologist, Joseph O’Loughlin, is only feet away, desperately trying to talk her down, when she whispers, ‘You don’t understand’ – and jumps.

Later, Joe has a visitor, the woman’s teenage daughter, Darcy, who has run away from boarding school and refuses to believe that her mother would have jumped off the bridge; not only would she never commit suicide, she was also afraid of heights. Joe wants to believe her, but how and by whom, could a woman be driven to such a desperate act?

Someone is manipulating women by telling them that he has their daughters, and Joe realises that his own wife, Julianne, and daughter, Charlie, are also at risk. Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz joins Joe to help track down the murderer and rescue Joe’s family.

Bombproof  (2008)

Fifty-four hours ago Sami was released from prison, having served time for a crime he did not commit. Thirty-six hours ago he slept with the woman of his dreams at the Savoy. An hour ago his train blew up. Now he’s carrying a rucksack through London’s West End and has turned himself into the most wanted terrorist in the country as, in desperation, he takes hostages in a Chinese restaurant.

DI Vincent Ruiz has now retired but receives a phone call from his ex-wife Miranda, Sami’s parole officer, asking him to find and help Sami if possible. This will be no easy task, given that our hapless hero, Sami, has a genius for turning a desperate situation into a hopeless one.

It’s Dog Day Afternoon in London. This book was commissioned for Books Alive 2008.

Bleed for Me (2010)

The events depicted in Shatter have split Joe and his family, although he still lives in Bath and sees his girls regularly.

Ray Hegarty, a highly respected former detective, lies dead in his daughter Sienna’s bedroom. Sienna is found covered in her father’s blood and everything points to her guilt, but psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, isn’t convinced. Fourteen-year-old Sienna is Joe’s daughter’s best friend, and he has watched her grow up and seen the troubled look in her eyes. Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation, embarking upon a hunt with retired DI Vincent Ruiz that will led him to a predatory schoolteacher, a conspiracy of silence and a race-hate trial that is captivating the nation.

The Wreckage (2011)

Journalist, Luca Terracini, is covering the war in Iraq and investigating a series of deadly bank robberies involving tens of millions of dollars. But in his pursuit of the truth, he’s about to get in the way of clandestine agents and powerful nations who seek to bury secrets and manipulate the truth, regardless of the cost.

A thousand miles away in London, ex-cop, Vincent Ruiz, is drinking in a bar and rescues a young woman, Holly Knight, from a violent boyfriend. He wakes the next morning to find that she’s robbed him. Ruiz is furious with her, and at himself for falling for such an elaborate scam, and sets off to find Holly.

Two seemingly unrelated stories collide when a banker disappears, Holly’s boyfriend, Zac, is murdered and Hackett, a private detective hired by the banker’s wife, Elizabeth, is also killed after following the banker’s trail. ‘The Courier’ is hired by powerful interests in Washington and London to retrieve the banker’s notebook, which they believe was stolen by Holly and her boyfriend, and Ruiz involves his old friend, psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, to help protect Holly and solve the mystery.

Say You’re Sorry (2012)

When best friends, teenagers Piper and Tash, go missing one Sunday morning, the investigation into their disappearance captures the attention of the nation, but the girls are never found.

Three years later, during the worst blizzard in a century, a husband and wife are brutally murdered in the farmhouse where Tash McBain once lived. A troubled young man, who claims that he can hear voices and insists that he saw a girl being chased by a snowman that night, is currently being held in custody.

However, clinical psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, is not convinced that the girls are dead and persuades police to reopen the investigation. As a young girl runs for her life, the closer Joe gets to the truth, the more dangerous life becomes.

Michael Robotham says of this latest book: ‘The trembling psychologist with the dysfunctional marriage and brilliant mind is back to his best in my new novel Say You’re Sorry – the darkest book I’ve written since Shatter.’

Website Watch

Michael Robotham

Following his cadetship with The Sun in Sydney, in 1986 Michael Robotham headed for England and wrote for various newspapers and magazines until 1993, when he took up ghost-writing autobiographies for celebrities. Although his name wasn’t on the cover, twelve of these books became bestsellers with sales of more than two million copies. His first novel, The Suspect, became the subject of a frantic bidding war by publishers on the basis of only 117 written pages and, after publication in 2004, the bookwent on to sell over a million copies.

Michael has now written eight crime thrillers, which have sold like hotcakes in many different countries and in many different languages. You could say Michael Robotham knows his business. On Michael’s website you can read about his books, the characters, their motivations, how he writes, tips for writers and check out the many interviews he has given in print, audio and video. For more, go to 


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