The Worst Situation Possible: An Interview with Steve Cavanagh


In Steve Cavanagh’s Thirteen, his series character, con man turned lawyer Eddie Flynn, takes on a celebrity murder case. However the true murderer, a serial killer, has gotten himself into the jury pool. Steve will be at BookPeople on August 15th at 7PM to discuss and sign Thirteen, but was kind enough to take this early examination.


1. Can you remember how the idea for Thirteen came about?
I had the idea when I was writing my first novel. Writers get ideas all the time, it’s figuring out which ones would make a good book, which is the tricky part. My ideas usually come from day dreaming about what would be the worst situation possible – and Thirteen, with a serial killer manipulating his way onto a jury, seemed pretty nightmarish. When I first had the idea I remember thinking I really liked it, but I knew I wasn’t good enough to write that book. Not then. I saved it, and now that I’ve written it I’m glad I waited. I needed more experience before I tackled this book.
2. Kane is a creepy and formidable antagonist. How did you go about constructing him?
Like a lot of thriller writers I spend a good deal of time finding out about bad people. Killers – what makes them tick? Why do they do these terrible things? I knew from the premise of the novel I needed a serial killer character, so I researched a lot of serial killers and decided that Kane’s psychology would come from a more unusual place. He has a rare genetic condition called congenital analgesia, which means he feels no pain. I wondered what that condition would do to someone with a troubled mind? The result is Joshua Kane.
3. This is one of those stories where the antagonist has as many if not more hurdles than the protagonist. Did that change any way you approached the novel?
This is more a two-hander than previous books. I wanted to create a well-rounded character for Kane, so I had the idea of treating him like he’s the hero in his own story. Some readers have even told me they were rooting for Kane at some points of the book. He can be very charming, after all. Ultimately, it meant balancing the book with Eddie Flynn’s perspective. Most people are behind Eddie Flynn, the con-man turned lawyer in the trial. The book then develops as a cat-and-mouse game, where only one character knows he’s even playing a game.
4. How did New York become Eddie’s stomping ground?
I love American crime fiction, so it seemed natural to set my novels there. When I came up with the character of Eddie Flynn I knew he would be a fast-talking, hard man lawyer with a big heart. He kind of is New York City. So it seemed natural to me at least to set the books in what would be Eddie’s natural habitat.
5. I enjoyed the friendship between Eddie and Harry. What makes up their bond?
Harry is Eddie’s mentor. He’s the reason Eddie quit the grift, and became a lawyer. They have a special relationship because each of them have their flaws, and they are both very aware of them and they try to help one another. Everyone needs that someone in their life who will go to hell and back for you at the drop of a hat. Eddie and Harry have that kind of relationship – and there’s no rivalry between them. Harry is an older man, and he’s trying to keep Eddie on the right path. Harry is set in his ways, and has a healthy disrespect for authority so Eddie has to keep him in check. Together, they kind of function.
6. As someone originally from Ireland who writes about the American legal system, what are the main differences that stand out?
In Ireland and the UK we have a legal aid system for criminal cases. This means if you are charged with a crime and you can’t afford a lawyer, you can apply for legal aid. If it’s granted, and it nearly always is, you can have any lawyer, from any firm, and they can’t charge you a penny. The lawyers get paid from the legal aid system. So a defendant who is broke can have the same quality of representation as a multi-millionaire. The system is constantly under attack from the government, but it really works. Also, we no longer have capital punishment. Those would be some of the big differences. 
Grab a copy of Thirteen today and be sure to join us on August 15th at 7PM to hear Steve Cavanagh chat with Chandler Baker about his latest!

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