Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I am pleased to welcome Michelle Dunne, author of ‘While Nobody is Watching’, here today and happy to share her responses to my questions with you. Read on to discover more about her inspiration for this book, her writing and her background as I help to celebrate in this book birthday blitz!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
The inspiration for While Nobody Is Watching literally came as a bolt from the blue – I came across a YouTube clip about service dogs and an interview with a US army veteran, whose dog was quite literally his lifeline. Following their short clip, I had 2 fully formed characters in my mind; Lindsey Ryan (an Irish army and UN Peacekeeping veteran) and her service dog Frank. The rest of the story was built around them.
What is your writing process?
Mine is a very disorganised one! While Nobody Is Watching is my 3rd book and my process for all 3 has been the same: come up with some REALLY strong characters that I absolutely love and the story just kind of happens around them. I know lots of very successful writers plan things out in detail before they get going at all, but a lot of the time I don’t know what’s going to happen next until it actually happens. But that’s what I love about writing. I find that very exciting. I get it all down on paper for a messy first draft and then I read and edit, read and edit as many times as it takes.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I actually started my very first book in pen and paper, but after a while I couldn’t read my own writing! When I get going, the story picks up pace and it all rushes out – I couldn’t keep up! So now I’m on my laptop all the time. I never leave home without it. I can type a lot faster than I can write (legibly!)
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
I adore Lindsey Ryan from While Nobody Is Watching and The Invisible (coming later in 2021). Lindsey is an Irish Army and UN Peacekeeping veteran and so am I. We have that in common, but aside from that, I just think she’s amazing; her strength, her vulnerability, and how she’s always willing to put herself in harm’s way to stand up for others.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
As much as I love Lindsey, I’m not sure I’d like to have to have to live with her demons. I think I’d quite like to be Sinéad (the Garda) – I’ve always been drawn to life on the front line and I like her strength and her determination to go above and beyond for a kid who is falling through the cracks.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
I’m not sure actually. I never really think too hard about character names. They just land on the page when I start writing – it’s like being introduced to someone; this is their name, it’s the one they’ve always had and I don’t have a say in it!
Thank you for your service, Michelle, and for answering my questions! I hope you’re having a great time celebrating your book’s birthday ☺
Read on to discover more about her book and herself…..
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.
Blue helmets and blurred lines – While Nobody is Watching delves into the dark world of PTSD and a battle scarred soldier struggling to find a place in her new world.
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 face. 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.