A semi-inflated football and a curious little girl.
They called it peacekeeping. For Corporal Lindsey Ryan it was anything but.
It’s been three years since that bright day in the Golan Heights and the explosion which killed two and changed the survivors forever.
Now Lindsey deals with the many problems of the city’s troubled youth, to distract her from her own. But as damp days turn to night the kids return home, or somewhere like it, and she returns to her own private war. One that exists solely for her.
Certain that she’s being watched and certain that she’s losing her mind, Lindsey battles with the demons of post traumatic stress, while a very real threat edges ever closer until she finds herself face to face with someone who wants nothing more than to finally help her to die.
And it’s the last person she ever could have seen coming.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I love to write at my kitchen island, purely because the coffee machine is so close to it! But this doesn’t often happen. Life is so busy at the moment, that I literally tote my laptop around with me so that I can write when and where I get some time to do so. Luckily I have the ability to “get into the zone” immediately once my keyboard is open.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Most great authors that I know of have a very tight ritual and writing schedule. I have the opposite! I write when and where I can and I don’t plan much in advance. I start with at least one fully formed character that I’m completely invested in. Then I just let the story flow as it needs to onto a first draft. Once that’s done, I go back to the beginning and I read & edit … many times!
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Coffee if I get to write early in the day, otherwise I decent sized mug of tea will do the trick.
– What is your favourite book?
I couldn’t pick one if you paid me a million bucks! I love a good thriller, anything by Karin Slaughter. I loved Room by Emma Donoghue, the Stieg Larsson trilogy or I’m currently reading The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean which I’m really enjoying.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
My first two books were very different to what I write now – they’re what some would call “women’s fiction” although I HATE that term! (But I love those books!) They’re a series following the pretty disastrous lives of three childhood friends – Did Someone Order Cactus? and It’s Just Turbulence. While Nobody Is Watching is my first crime thriller and I’ve just finished the follow-up book, The Invisible which will be out later this year. I don’t think too much about genres when I’m writing. I get inspiration from everywhere – the news, online, everyday conversations, so once a good story comes to me or a great character, I’ll write it.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
In a way. My inspiration for While Nobody Is Watching for example came from my own time in the military and the types of people I met and the bond that forms between soldiers. The characters and the relationships that I write about are usually based on the types of people that I’ve encountered throughout my life. None of my characters are based on an actual person though. I’m very careful about that!
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No, I’m not that organised! When an idea strikes me, I usually become quite excited about it, so I’ll spend the rest of the day thinking about it and trying to build upon it. So really I don’t give myself a chance to forget it before I can sit down and write about it.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’ve always been a fiction woman through and through. I don’t read much non-fiction, purely because I find real life can be hard enough. I like the escapism of fiction. That said, I have read some amazing non-fiction books like Hidden Soldier by Padraig O’Keeffe or Shadow Warriors by Wayne Fitzgerald and Paul O’Brien.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I think someone like Cathy Kelly or Marian Keyes. They’ve blazed a trail for female writers in Ireland. They’re both incredibly gifted authors and beautiful human beings. Imagine what could be learned from working with them!
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I’d probably head for a conflict zone. During my time in Lebanon with the UN, I learned so much about human resilience from the local people who are just trying to live their lives and raise their families while bombs and bullets rain down around them. These were some of the kindest, funniest and warmest people I’ve ever met. The world needs to know more about them and the conditions that they live in.
Thank you, Michelle Dunne and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Michelle Dunne wore a Blue Helmet in South Lebanon with B Company the Irish army and the UN, probably in that order.
She now lives in Cobh with her husband, daughter and a cast of characters waiting to be written about.
Michelle was one of those sporty types growing up, all bony elbows and knees, and as she lived on an island, it stood to reason she’d spend her first couple of decades taking in the salty, seaweedy air at the local rowing club (not the serene looking, posh rowing, but the other kind, undertaken by hardy fishermen).
This was where she learned just about everything she ever needed to know about anything. They brought home the County’s, All-Ireland’s were won, but the banter on the bus was always the real prize. From there it made sense that she’d leave town and join another club/asylum and found herself wearing a blue helmet somewhere in South Lebanon.
She’d become attached to the UN, but more importantly, to B-Company, the boldest, brightest, bravest the Irish army had to offer. She called them lots of other names too, but only to their faces. As tracer rounds lit up the sky above her and artillery rained down, she learned the words of every patriotic Irish song ever written and how to smile, laugh, and joke about things that would otherwise have you curled in a ball, rocking back and forth in the corner of the room.
Once her eyes had been opened and she returned to Irish soil, Michelle was promoted and following a spell back at college, is now a part of a company providing physiotherapy and staff training in nursing homes and hospitals all over Munster. A slower pace, but still an unruly bunch when they want to be. She’s back living on the island of Cobh with her husband Dominic and their daughter Emily and the hundreds of colourful characters waiting to make their way onto a piece of paper.
While Nobody is Watching is Michelle’s third book, which draws from her military experiences and the types of relationships that form within its ranks.