Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Craziest Story I Ever Heard

by Steve Cavanagh

On Saint Patrick’s Day 2011 I lost my mother to cancer. If you’d told me that day that exactly four years later I’d have written a novel, gotten an agent, had multiple auctions for the publishing rights and just seen my first book hit the shelves – I’d have said you were crazy.
And I’d be right. That is crazy.

In 2011 I wasn’t writing. In fact I hadn’t written anything for about fifteen years. In my late teens I wrote a couple of screenplays, didn’t get them sold, and gave up writing around the age of 20. At 35 I was fairly rusty. I hadn’t written anything in the intervening period and I’d no plan to return to that life. I was a lawyer with a decent salary, a young family and I worked pretty long hours in a law firm just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland.

But something happened. My mother was the person who gave me my first crime novel – Silence Of The Lambs. I was hooked ever since. She gave me the love of reading and she encouraged me to write. Her passing felt wrong, like we were robbed. Something inside of me said that some good had to come out of this; that somehow I had to try and fix things. What could I do? At that time I had a new baby, and in hindsight I’m pretty sure I was depressed.

In September 2011 I decided I was going to have another shot at writing. A novel, this time. I was going to write the kind of novel that my mother would’ve enjoyed reading. This was one more roll of the dice – for her. I started writing at night. I’d begin around 10:30 and write until my head hit the keyboard. It felt desperate. But I enjoyed it – because I was escaping into a fictional world that I could control. When I was writing I wasn’t thinking about my own problems.

Around nine months later I had a book. Now I wanted to see it on a shelf. So I set about looking for an agent. Like everyone, I got rejections. A lot of them. So I kept revising the book, and submitting. In April 2013 I got an email from a respected agent telling me that the book would never be published. That was on a Monday night and I’ll never forget how terrible that felt – like I’d failed my mother. On the Wednesday of the same week I got offers of representation from some of the biggest and best agents in the UK.

September 2013 my first novel was sold in a four-publisher auction to Orion Books – who publishes some of my heroes like Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and Ian Rankin.

The Defence was published in the UK on 12th March 2015 and I visited my mother’s grave. I told her that I’d done it. The pain was still there.

But I knew she was there too.

Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast and is a practicing lawyer. He holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy and lectures on various legal subjects (but really he just likes to tell jokes). He is married with two young children. The Defence , has been chosen as one of Amazon's great debuts for 2015, as part of their Amazon Rising Stars programme. In 2015 Steve received the ACES award for Literature from the Northern Ireland Arts Council. Steve writes fast-paced legal thrillers set in New York City featuring series character Eddie Flynn. The Defence is his first novel. Find out more at or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav.

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? Lose this case and he loses everything.


Jenny Milchman said...

What an absolutely heart-warming, empowering story. Thank you for sharing something so personal, and the strength you drew upon in response.

I bet your mom is where all the best book lovers go, thoroughly enjoying your words, and very, very proud.

Steve Cavanagh said...

Thanks so much Jenny.