Today I’m delighted to feature crime author Sam Blake. Sam has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. Her debut novel ‘Little Bones’ (Bonnier 2016) was No 1 in Ireland for four weeks, remained in the top 10 for another four, and was nominated for Irish Crime Novel of the Year. It launched the bestselling Cat Connolly trilogy.
Moving away from police procedurals Sam is keeping a focus on strong female characters, writing psychological thrillers for Corvus Books. ‘Keep Your Eyes On Me’ went straight to No 1 in January 2020 and ‘The Dark Room’ has just hit the bestseller list. Sam has recently signed for two more thrillers with Corvus Atlantic that will keep her busy until 2023.
Sam is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow mountains for more years that she lived in the UK. She has two teenagers, three cats and lives in a 200-year-old cottage with an occasional poltergeist who moves things at the most inconvenient moments.
Over to Sam
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I’m a happy/inspirational music person but I also have sound tracks for each of my books – for the Cat Connolly books it was mainly pop, the type of thing Cat listens to. For The Dark Room it was classical violin, music that haunts to book throughout. These would be part of my personal sound track:
It’s A Kind of Magic: Queen – Released in 1986 just after the iconic Live Aid concert, this is one of the greatest anthems of all time – Freddie Mercury was the consummate creative, building here on John Taylor’s original lyrics. ‘The bell that rings inside your mind’ is exactly what happens when I see or hear something that’s the start of a story.
Happy: Pharrell Williams – This makes me smile and tap my feet whenever I hear it – it’s blue sky and sunshine – and you can never have too many minions. I don’t know enough about music to know what the secret of success is with a song, but this is like a magic potion.
Search for the Hero: M People – This became an anthem of the 2012 London Olympic Games but was released in 1995, and it says it all, you create your own opportunities in life. I once did an interview where I was asked what I’d have playing at my funeral, and I think this is it.
Firework: Katy Perry – I absolutely love these lyrics – everyone is original and sometimes you just have to wait for your moment to show your colours. Be that firework.
Symphony: Clean Bandit with Zara Larsson – From the moment I heard this I loved the clarity of Larsson’s voice, and how the lyrics tell a story using music as a metaphor. The video is heart-breaking and inspired the character of Hunter in The Dark Room, and his cycling accident.
What 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
The internet! My life is very much online as I run a big website Writing.ie, a publishing consultancy and a fabulous online writers group. Because the bookshops are closed all my promotion for my new book The Dark Room is online, despite the crazies, I love that I can connect with readers everywhere through social media.
Books – I wish I had more time to read, but stepping inside another world fuels my imagination and improves my own writing.
Raspberry tea – I gave up alcohol about two years ago when I realised how many calories there were in a glass of wine, so I drink raspberry tea in the evenings and I love it! I take it with me everywhere I go.
Boots No 7 – I’m not getting any younger and I use their entire range for skincare and make up – it WORKS!
My samsonite cabin suitcase. I love traveling and before lockdown was in London at least once a month. I’m rather obsessively co-ordinated and my suitcase is a red hard shell case, as light as a feather and with super rolly wheels, it matches me and I can fit everything in!
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
In a few years they will invent a device that will end your fear of constantly getting lost by stopping it happening! In the meantime you should have realised this was an issue and found some ways around it!
Invest in bitcoin.
You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it – sometimes you need to think laterally (see above No 1)
You’re allergic to mussels (took me years to work out what was making me ill!)
Apply for Irish citizenship before they change the law on spouses and require masses of paperwork to make it happen!
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you
I can’t even hum in tune!
I chased off two men who were trying to steal my car from outside my house at 4o’clock in the morning (instead of waking up my husband who was a policeman)
I can’t stand black beetles or cockroaches or the squeaky noise balloons make
I used to read palms (bit rusty now)
I wanted to study art but my parents persuaded me history was more useful
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do or achieve.
I’m very lucky in that I’ve managed many of the things I wanted to do – I run my own business and live in a period cottage on the edge of the Wicklow Mountains, I have an amazing circle of close friends, and I’ve written five bestselling books. I continue to want to get better as a writer, I feel it’s a life-long learning process. My favourite book is Rebecca, and if I could write one that came close to that, I’d be very happy! I would love a UK No 1 and an NY Times No 1, I’d love a production company to make one of my books into a series that runs as long as Grey’s Anatomy – and I’d love to lose the lockdown pounds & get back to the gym!
Thanks do much for sharing with us today Sam. I had a an enjoyable singalong with your music choices (thankfully I was on my own). Glad that No 7 is doing the trick for you, as a skincare junkie I don’t think I give any long enough to do the trick and I’m old enough to know things don’t happen overnight! Cockroaches urgh, as a student I worked in a hospital kitchen for a summer. I was on the first shift and when we went in an turned the lights on they would run up the walls. I’d never seen one before then, I saw far too during that period. I hate balloons full stop – I’m sure it was down to enforced childhood party games! Here’s hoping for that No 1 bestseller or series, and good luck with the Irish citizenship, it’s a country I’ve come to love.
The Dark Room
Hare’s Landing, West Cork. A house full of mystery…
Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing.
New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner.
As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…
Keep Your Eyes on Me
You won’t be able to look away
When Vittoria Devine and Lily Power find themselves sitting next to each other on a flight to New York, they discover they both have men in their lives whose impact has been devastating. Lily’s family life is in turmoil, her brother left on the brink of ruin by a con man. Vittoria’s philandering husband’s latest mistress is pregnant.
By the time they land, Vittoria and Lily have realised that they can help each other right the balance. But only one of them knows the real story…
Little Bones (The Cathy Connolly Series Book 1)
Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.
And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.
Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.
Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?
Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become…
In Deep Water (The Cathy Connolly Series Book 2)
Good intentions can be deadly . . .
Cat Connolly is back at work after the explosion that left her on life support. Struggling to adjust to the physical and mental scars, her work once again becomes personal when her best friend Sarah Jane Hansen, daughter of a Pulitzer-winning American war correspondent, goes missing.
Sarah Jane is a journalism student who was allegedly working on a story that even her father thought was too dangerous.
With Sarah Jane’s father uncontactable, Cat struggles to find a connection between Sarah Jane’s work and her disappearance. But Sarah Jane is not the only one in deep water when Cat comes face to face with a professional killer . . .
In the world of missing persons every second counts, but with the clock ticking, can Cathy find Sarah Jane before it’s too late?
No Turning Back (The Cathy Connolly Series Book 3)
Even perfect families have secrets . . .
Orla and Conor Quinn are the perfect power couple: smart, successful and glamorous. But then the unthinkable happens. Their only son, Tom, is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run.
Detective Garda Cathy Connolly has just left Tom’s parents when she is called to the discovery of another body, this time in Dillon’s Park, not far from where Tom Quinn was found. What led shy student Lauren O’Reilly to apparently take her own life? She was a friend of Tom’s and they both died on the same night – are their deaths connected and if so, how?
As Cathy delves deeper, she uncovers links to the Dark Web and a catalogue of cold cases, realising that those involved each have their own reasons for hiding things from the police. But events are about to get a lot more frightening . . .