When it comes to writing, I take inspiration from everything and everyone that I encounter in everyday life. The people, the places, the news stories – everything. But While Nobody Is Watching came a little bit out of the blue for me.
My first two books fell into the women’s fiction genre (Did Someone Order Cactus? followed by It’s Just Turbulence – books one and two of what became known as The Turbulent Series). But around that time I’d been reading a book written from the point of view of a female soldier. It was awful. Each page told of harassment, bullying and misery. I too served with the Irish Army and with the UN in Lebanon and I have to say, my experience was one of the most positive of my life. I worked with so many fantastic people that they just about cancelled out the less fantastic ones and it occurred to me that only the negative accounts ever seemed to get told. This bothered me, if I’m honest.
So, between the jigs and the reels, I decided to write it from the other perspective, but unfortunately it took no time at all for me to realise that I’m definitely not suited to non-fiction writing. When it comes to who said what to whom… I have no idea. And those details are pretty important in a work of non-fiction. So instead I got going on a fictional account of my time with the army and the UN. But as much as I loved writing it and each of the characters as they developed along the way, by the time I got to the third draft, it still wasn’t where I wanted it to be. So, a little bit fed up, I walked away from it, dramatically vowing never to write again! I opened my phone for some mindless scrolling to take my mind off it all, and that’s when I came across a very short clip about service dogs. Naturally, I clicked on it. Who doesn’t?
I spent the next thirty seconds or so listening to a US army veteran sitting on a step with his arm draped loosely over his dog, dutifully by his side. To be honest, he didn’t look like the kind of guy who needed assistance from anyone. But it turned out he was living with PTSD, and his dog was his lifeline. By the end of that clip I had two fully formed characters in my head. One was a gorgeous German Shepherd by the name of Frank, and his owner, Lindsey Ryan, a veteran of the Irish army and Peacekeeper with the UN. And that’s about as far as I tend to go, from a planning point of view. More often than not, I’m as surprised as anyone by what happens next. The stories tend to write themselves when I have a keyboard in front of me.
With my head already filled with military characters, they found their home easily among the pages, but once I really got going, a whole host of other characters just landed among them, shoving them aside at times to make room for their stories to be told. Suddenly, everything from the very troubled young people Lindsey now works with, the addicts, hookers, Gardaí, former military characters, among others, were all bringing life to an otherwise blank screen and I became more and more engrossed and excited. My fingers couldn’t move fast enough to keep with all they had to say and I fell in love with each and every one of them (aside from the ones you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley!).
That said, (and feel free to call me biased) Lindsey Ryan is without doubt my favourite character of all time. A self-destructive loner, caught in the clutches of PTSD, and she’s dealing with all that it can possibly throw at her, completely by herself. None of the people in her ‘new life’ know anything about her past or what goes on inside her head and that’s how she likes it. Instead she chooses to deal with it all by throwing herself into the lives and problems of the troubled youth she now works with and by living a very, very high-risk lifestyle. She’s daring the world to do its worst and it’s only a matter of time before it obliges.
Without a shadow of a doubt, I’ll be bringing Lindsey along on my next adventure (which is already well under way).
(c) Michelle Dunne
Twitter – https://twitter.com/NotDunneYet
About While Nobody is Watching:
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.
Page turning thriller debut from someone who knows the world’s trouble spots close up. Michelle Dunne is the real deal. – bestselling author Cathy Kelly
Order your copy online here.