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Bookmarked Blog
Michael Robotham returns to our shelves with a pulse-racing thriller that is truly unputdownable. We asked him about the female protagonist, exploring the theme of domestic violence and what it was like writing When You Are Mine as a standalone novel.

Can you tell us a little about Philomena McCarthy?

MR: Philomena is a bright, brave and ambitious young constable, who has defied the odds to join the Metropolitan Police. Her father, Edward McCarthy is a notorious London gangster, who masquerades as a legitimate businessman, but has a finger in every dodgy deal in London.

Phil hasn’t spoken to her father in almost ten years but is under pressure to return to the fold with her wedding looming and doubts about his health.

During a typical patrol, Phil is called to a luxury apartment, where she rescues a bloodied young woman, Tempe Brown, from her violent partner. The perpetrator is a decorated detective with a wife and two children at home, which means the incident is hushed up by senior officers. Phil refuses to let it rest, creating powerful enemies, who can destroy her career. The more she tries to prove that she is not her father’s daughter, she begins to wonder if the true criminals lie behind or beyond the thin blue line.


This is a standalone novel – how is the approach different when writing a series to writing a one-off story?

MR: Writing a standalone is different from writing a series because the landscape of the novel has to be built anew and populated with characters, descriptions, locations and relationships. There is no back-story or history to weave into the narrative. I think it’s the ultimate challenge for a writer to create new voices and have them live and breathe in the reader’s imagination.


Michael RobothamMichael Robotham


The Secrets She Keeps was made into a hit show – do you have a cinematic or quite visual way of imagining your stories, or is it always with the page-turning reader in mind?

MR: I think most people of the TV and video generation tend to have very visual imaginations because we have seen so much. An author like Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at a time when very few people had visited Pacific islands. Now we can summon up photographs, videos, maps and street cameras showing almost any location on Earth.

I not only write visually, but having trained as a journalist, I have that sensibility of wanting to set my stories in real places and make them read as though they are happening in real time to real people.


Domestic violence is a theme that runs through the novel – was that intentional and was it difficult to navigate sensitive territory like this?

MR: I began wanting to write a book about toxic friendships, but found that it morphed into a story that included domestic abuse and coercive control, which are very important and long-ignored issues in Australia and around the world. One woman a week is killed in Australia by her partner. Two woman a week die from domestic violence in the UK, and three women a day are killed by an intimate partner in America. If this were terrorism, we would have done something by now.


You are one of Australia’s most acclaimed and bestselling authors – who are the Aussie authors that you like to read?

MR: This is a very tough question because there are so many wonderful Australian authors. Some like Trent Dalton, Craig Silvey and Helen Garner have found big audiences, but I’d like a mention a few writers who I believe deserve to be far more successful, namely, Jock Serong, Mark Brandi, Emma Viskic, and J.P. Pomare. Read them. You won’t be disappointed.

Pre-order your copy of When You Are Mine now - available in store and online from 30 June 2021.
When You Are Mine
Michael Robotham

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