Entertainment Books

Saturday 25 May 2019

Write side... with crime novelist Steve Cavanagh


Steve Cavanagh
Steve Cavanagh
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Crime novelist Steve Cavanagh on reading 'Silence of the Lambs' at the age of 12 - and becoming an accidental lawyer

Who encouraged  you to write?

Growing up in Belfast, the only person who ever encouraged me to write was my mother. She knew I loved stories and I would write them at home. She introduced me to crime fiction. I read Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris when I was 12 - much too young.

So why did you take up writing while practicing as a lawyer?

I wrote screenplays when I was younger, but gave it up. When my mother passed away, I thought I would give it another go and wrote my first novel.

Your latest book, Thirteen, features a serial killer on a jury. Are you fascinated by what happens in the jury room?

It is a mystery of the legal process. You have 12 people randomly selected and ultimately they are deciding who has the best lawyer. Nobody knows what their considerations are or whether they are bored or fed-up.

Why are your books set in New York?

I have always read American crime fiction. New York is the greatest city in the world. It's familiar to people, so I don't have to take great pains in describing what it looks like.

You still work as a lawyer. Does it require some similar skills to being a crime writer?

As a lawyer, you have to make your case comprehensible and compelling. If you are doing it well, you are presenting the best story for your client. Whoever tells the best story wins.

Tell us about your unusual route into law?

I was about 18 when I came to Dublin to study business studies and marketing at Portobello College, but there was a mix-up. Having been in a drunken stupor the night before registration, I registered for law by mistake. I became a lawyer because I joined the wrong queue.

If you weren't a writer or a lawyer, what would you be?

I'd be washing pots or throwing people out of pubs.

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