Saturday, 9 May 2015

Five Questions -- Steve Cavanagh

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, lawyer, con man, drunk. How much of this is autobiographical, Steve? I know you're a lawyer. Two out of three wouldn't be too bad...

Well, while I was at University, and probably for a good few years afterwards, I would've been a man with a powerful thirst. One of my best mates, Mark, is a guy from my QUB Institute of Professional Legal Studies class, and the only reason I know him is because we both liked to turn up to the pub an hour before any social event began so that we could have a few before the crowd arrived. We didn't arrange it or anything, we just happened to be men with similar approaches to an evening's entertainment. I remember somebody once handed me a pint, the glass was soaking and the pint simply slipped right through my fingers. I had my order in for another one before the glass hit the ground. Now I have two small children. The rock and roll days are over. As for con man? There is a certain amount of sleight of hand in any good cross examination. That's where the overlap is between the courtroom and the back alley. Eddie straddles that line precariously.

I noticed that you used US spelling (eg color rather than colour) in the UK edition of your book. What's the craic with that?

Glad you spotted that. It was my editor's suggestion. As the book is in US English anyway with an American narrator, may as well go the whole hog. I think it helps a little with authenticating the American voice that I'm going for. I've noticed it before in John Connolly books and to be honest it's fine with me because it means I don't have as much work to do for US publication.

Ah! The mighty Connolly. It must tickle you that you're likely to be stocked out pretty close to him on the crime fiction shelf. Recommend one of his works, for the uninitiated. Please?

There is so much to recommend, but for the crime fan you simply have to read the Charlie Parker series. You can read them out of sequence, I have a little. But you get a far better experience reading them in order. Start with Every Dead Thing and work your way up. EDT is one of the best crime debuts you'll ever read. And the books just keep getting better. That's rare in series fiction. Yeah, I'm stoked that I get to be on a shelf with one of my heroes.

Your story in Belfast Noir was top notch and it featured an actual Belfastian solicitor. Any plans to set a novel in Belfast?

Yes, a solicitor and a barrister with the story focussed on barrister, Mack. I loved writing that story. It's a weird thing, I wrote The Defence as an escape, primarily for me. I was going through a hard time and I wanted to try writing again. If I had come home from a day's work being a lawyer in Northern Ireland and sat down to write for two or three hours about being a lawyer in Northern Ireland I think I probably would've gone insane. At the time I wanted to escape somewhere else for a few hours, into a different world. After I wrote The Defence I knew I wanted to write another book with Eddie Flynn - I find him very interesting and I can pretty much accomplish everything that I want to do right now, in fiction, using that character. If I ever give up the law, I may write a book set in NI but not at the moment. I have a few ideas, but for now I want to concentrate on Eddie's story.

You know we're pretty sold on The Defence at CSNI. Care to share a tag line for the next instalment?

This is the hard part, I'm terrible at writing blurbs. I can tell you that this next book is currently titled The Plea and, among other things, it looks at international money laundering, the grand jury system, and welcomes back some of the characters from The Defence. In the new book Eddie Flynn has two clients. Two cases. Both very different. One client is innocent and the other is guilty. He can only save one of them. It's an easy choice for most lawyers, but what if the guilty client was Eddie's wife? Will he sacrifice the life of an innocent man to save his wife? He's got 48 hours to decide. But no matter what choice he makes, the only certainty is that at eight o'clock on Saint Patrick's Day Eddie Flynn will die.

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