Tag Archives: Dawson O’Rourke

The Story Behind No Turning Back…

With the new GDPR legislation and recent events in the political sphere there’s been an explosion in the debate around how much data companies hold on you, and how that all connects online. By aggregating data, companies can learn more about you than your nearest and dearest know, and you can then be targeted for all sorts of reasons – whether it’s to influence your vote or to persuade you to buy chocolate. It’s fascinating and frightening and the perfect background for a crime novel – there are so many aspects to it that you could write a whole series (now there’s an idea). My daughter is 18 and very techie, she’s a font of fascinating information about what’s happening on the web – her friends joke that she should wear a tin hat – she’d very conscious of her online footprint. She first told me about websites that aggregate hacked webcam footage – she’d read about it on Reddit. She wants to do aerospace engineering so the parts of Reddit she hangs out on tend to be populated by engineers, programmers and rocket scientists, and she finds the most interesting stories.

When it came to start plotting No Turning Back I started thinking about the consequences of a stranger breaking into your world and what damage they could do. I read a brilliant book by Jamie Bartlett called The Dark Net which was all about the start of the internet and how the deep web and the dark web came to be. I found articles about the Silk Road website and Dread Pirate Roberts, as its founder Ross Ulbricht was known. Ulbricht set up the site in 2011 initially to sell magic mushrooms but it literally mushroomed and it became a shop front for suppliers of everything from hard drugs to AK47s.  Ulbricht was arrested in 2013 and convicted of money launderingcomputer hacking, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identity documents, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics in February 2015. He is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

But there are many more individuals keen to fill his place – Silk Road made millions of dollars.

The web is obviously a brilliant source for research on itself, but chatting to professional in an area is absolutely invaluable. In the course of a conversation they can say something that sparks a whole new idea. I’m blessed with a fabulous friend Alex Caan who is also a writer (Cut to the Bone/ First to Die  – watch the video for Cut to the Bone here, it’s awesome, but I might be biased as my daughter made it)

Alex is in information systems security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in Terrorism Studies. There is little he doesn’t know! Having a trusted source who you can ask stupid questions is incredibly useful, and one who writes as well? I can’t thank him enough for his help – all while he was doing a PhD and writing his incredible second book First to Die.

Researching worms and viruses online I discovered even more terrifying and interesting things, including the background to the Stuxnet worm that was barely reported when it happened – a cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear power plants it showed just how powerful cyber weapons could be. At the same time that I was reading about this, the WannaCry virus was attacking the NHS in the UK. It was all becoming very real.

I’ve always been interested in secrets and in what goes on behind closed doors. With all my internet research on hand I wanted to write a book with multiple secrets at it’s core, where events had a domino effect, an effect that created moral crises for those involved.

No Turning Back has many twists and turns and it brings Cat Connolly to a very unexpected place…

No Tunring Back is getting incredible reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, one Amazon reviewer said:

“A superb well crafted tale, which should encourage any reader to get the other books by the Irish Author, Sam Blake. Detective Garda Cathy Connolly, a feisty, intelligent Dublin officer, is faced with a complex and disturbing case involving a hit and run on a young wealthy student and the apparent suicide of another student from the same year and same course, both deaths occurring very close to each other and nearer enough on the same night. Were these deaths connected? Much to our detective’s consternation this takes her into the depths of the Dark Web, a much unexplored arena of illegality, depravity and a market place for anything the displaced of society wants. I found this book enthralling, enticing me back time after time. It’s frightening, pacey and really excellent example of the modern police procedural thriller.”

Pick up your copy here!

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Introducing Cat Connolly

Ever since she was twelve years old and saw a little girl alone on the green in the middle of her estate – a man in a hoodie heading towards her, Cat Connolly wanted to be a cop.

Following in her older brother Aidan’s footsteps she joined An Garda Síochána at 18 and the Detective Unit at 22. One of the lads, she’s a  triple National Kick Boxing Champion but finds time to fit in her training and take a distance learning degree in criminology in her spare time.  She’s bright, focused and determined, but she’s also an impetuous risk taker and when she’s up against it, will follow her heart over her head.

Dawson O’Rourke worked with Cat in her first posting when she was an observer in the patrol car he was driving – they have a deep bond. O’Rourke knows Cat has huge potential in the force, and while her impetuousness is frowned upon and has led her to make ‘bad’ decisions, her fearlessness is something he loves about her – and it saved his life.

Cat knows she’s strongly attracted to O’Rourke, but with a twelve year age gap, she’s convinced it’s a relationship that will stay in her head.  As Cathy plunges from one disastrous relationship into another, going from one ‘wrong sort of guy’ to another, O’Rourke is always there for her.

Despite her rollercoaster love life, Cat is passionate about her job and catching the bad guys. She has no tolerance for law breaking and believes that the ultimate betrayal is a bad cop. If you can’t  trust those with the responsibility to uphold the law, who can you trust?

So what’s Cat’s full name?

Known as Cathy to her collagues and Cat to her friends, in IN DEEP WATER we find out Cat’s full name is Catherina Anna Maria Connolly.

 

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The Story Behind Little Bones…

Stephen King talks about story being the collison of two unrelated ideas – the ideas behind Little Bones weren’t entirely unrelated but they collided one sunny Sunday afternoon as I was driving back from a Readers Day that author Sarah Webb and I had programmed at a hotel in Dublin Airport. It was about 5pm in the afternoon and pre M50 so a LONG drive home (I once counted 35 sets of traffic lights) but as I put on the radio and pulled out of the car park a documentary was starting on RTE about Kerry born playwright George Fitzmaurice. Fitzmaurice is best remembered for his play The Country Dressmaker which he submitted to the Abbey Theatre. It was such a success that it rescued the theatre after the problems of John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in the same year. Born in 1877, Fitzmaurice became introverted and isolated as he grew older and died in 1963, in a rented upstairs room in No.3 Harcourt Street, Dublin. He was aged 86 years and left no will and few personal belongings – apart from a copy of every play he had ever published and a few in draft form, which were in a suitcase under his bed.

It was Fitzmaurice’s suitcase that caused the collision of ideas.

Several years previously I’d watched an RTE TV documentary about a young  Irish girl who was living in lodgings  in Manchester. Belinda Agnes Regan discovered she was pregnant before she left Ireland but,  unmarried, had no choice but to hide the pregnancy. She delivered the baby herself, incredibly in a room she shared with another much younger girl who apparently slept through her ordeal. Wrapping the baby in a shawl, she crept to the bathroom but when she returned, the baby wasn’t breathing.  Hiding the body in a suitcase, she left it under her bed, returning home to Ireland to talk to the family priest. While she was away, the body was found  by her land lady and she was arrested for infanticide.

These two stories, quite separately lit a light bulb in my head and on the drive home I started wondering about dress makers and what would happen if the bones of the baby had ended up in a dress – a wedding dress – the crucial thing that Belinda Agnes Regan must have yearned for, for nine long months. At that point I had no idea who owned the dress, or how the bones got there, or WHY…

Stories can take a long time to develop, and to find their way. I was struck by the image of the bones being found by accident in the home of a beautiful young artist. Cathy Connolly jumped off the page as a character from early in the very first draft – her quest for the truth becoming a theme for the book. More often in trouble than out of it, she is so real to me now that I can hear her talking whenever I think of her.

Writing and rewriting what started life as The Dressmaker , the characters and story grew, developing over time. While the story didn’t change, when Bonnier’s Twenty7 signed the Cat Connolly trilogy, the title of the first in the series did – to Little Bones.  And very soon  Little Bones will out in the wild, and you can meet Cat Connolly, laugh with her and cry with her, and step right into her world.

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