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Michael Robotham

Author, Corporate, Speaking Out

Michael Robotham is an internationally celebrated crime writer whose books have been translated into 25 languages and sold more than six million copies around the world.

Born in country NSW, he began his career as a journalist and went on to write for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies. Twelve of these non-fiction titles were Sunday Times bestsellers in the UK.

Michael’s first psychological thriller, THE SUSPECT, caused a bidding war at the London Book Fair in 2002 and was sold into more twenty languages in less than three hours. It later became only the fifth “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries.

In 2015, Michael’s novel, LIFE OR DEATH, won the coveted Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger award for the year’s best novel, beating Stephen King and Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) who were on the shortlist. He has also twice won Australia’s Ned Kelly Award for best novel and the Australian Book Industry Award for best fiction in 2018 for THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS.

A six-part TV series based on THE SECRET SHE KEEPS has been made for Channel 10 and will screen in early 2020 with an international cast.

Where were you born?

I had a storybook childhood, growing up in small country towns, some with more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. I was born in Casino on the NSW north coast and spent my primary school years living in Gundagai where my father taught at the local high school.

What other jobs have you had?

I became a cadet journalist at 17, joining the old The Sun, an afternoon newspaper in Sydney. For the next 14 years I reported on conflict, crime, heartbreak and tragedy around the world, spending eight years as senior feature writer for The Mail on Sunday in Britain. Later, I became a ghostwriter, collaborating with actors, soldiers, politicians, adventurers and pop stars, to help write their autobiographies.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I am fascinated by the psychology of crime.

When a well-spoken, university graduate in urban preservation flies a passenger plane into a skyscraper killing thousands of people; or when a student barely out of his teens sprays a university campus with bullets; or when a teenage mother gives birth in a toilet and leaves the baby in the wastepaper bin, it all comes back to some aspect of human behaviour and interaction.

Everything we think we know and understand – the good, the bad and the evil – is produced by four pounds of grey matter in our heads.

What have been the highlights of your career?

As a journalist, I reported on the discovery of the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas, Princess Alexandra and their children, which were unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991, as well as Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been hidden for more than forty years.

As a ghostwriter I wrote 12 Sunday Times bestsellers – and my name wasn’t on any of them.

Where have your works been published?

Along with my novels, my journalism has been published in The Sunday TimesTattlerThe Mail on SundayThe Sydney Morning Herald and The Independent.

Haven’t I seen you before?

I have appeared on ABC’s The Tuesday Book Club and also Network Ten’s The Circle, and I have been a guest of many many writers festival over the years.

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