Top Homicide cop Darian Richards has been seeking out monsters for too long. He has promised one too many victim's families he will find the answers they need and it's taken its toll. Now retired, a series of disappearances see him return to the gun. On his terms. But he knows, every promise has a price to pay.
After surviving a gunshot wound to the head, Darian calls it quits and retires to the Sunshine Coast in an attempt to leave the demons behind. But he should have realised, there are demons everywhere and no place is safe. A serial killer is prowling the Sunshine Coast area and Darian tries to ignore the fact his experience could make a difference hunting him down.
All he wants is to sit at the end of his jetty on the Noosa River and ignore the fact that girls from the area have vanished over the past fourteen months. All blonde and pretty. Youngest: 13. Oldest: 16. He knows they are all dead but the cops were saying 'missing' or 'vanished'. That's what you have to say if you don't have a body.
Jenny Brown was the first. She vanished sometime after 4 in the afternoon, Saturday 15th October the previous year. Except for her parents and her friends and everybody who knew her, it was thought she was just a runaway. Especially by the cops who allowed a good two or three minutes before arriving at that conclusion. By the time they'd reached the gate to the front yard of her house, before they'd even walked across the road and climbed into their cruiser, they would've forgotten Jenny Brown even existed.
But then others disappeared and they couldn't call them all runaways. Darian can't sit idly by and he decides he is going to find the killer and deal with him... his way.
Tony Cavanaugh is a writer and producer in film and television, writing numerous dramas since the 1980s. He has over thirty years experience in the industry, in all fields, from the genesis of an idea to production. He has written and edited award winning shows, 'The Sullivans', 'Once Were Warriors', 'Fire', 'Medivac', 'The Day of Roses' and 'Through My Eyes'.
He has lectured at several prestigious universities and institutions including RMIT, Melbourne University and the Australian Writer's Guild and has been a regular guest on ABC morning radio with Jon Faine, commenting on the film and television industry.
He was also invited to judge the Logie Awards, Australian Film Institute Awards and the International Emmy Awards, held in New York.
Author: Tony Cavanaugh
Question: How did you come across the idea for the Darian Richards series of books?
Tony Cavanaugh: I'd been doing a lot of reading about psychopaths and had spent a few years working with some homicide investigators down in Melbourne. I love the crime genre, specially the hot American writers like Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly and Lee Child. I was at a stage of my life where I was very frustrated creatively and I just started to scribble notes into a book, in longhand. Notes became paragraphs which turned into chapters. I think I was riding on a train down to Brisbane from the Sunshine Coast when I heard Winston's voice - a rambling, narcissistic rant about being the best serial killer in the world and how, after he died, people would leave monuments to him. That sort of triggered the book and Darian had been percolating for a while - an amalgam of some cops I knew and others, people who had retired to Noosa and found it impossible to sit and play golf or go to the beach. They were restless; a lot of second acts in life are happening on the Sunshine Coast.
Question: Why did you decide to set Promise in the Sunshine Coast? Where will the other books be set?
Tony Cavanaugh: It came to me when I was being tested for a rather embarrassing blood alcohol level reading at the Noosa police station. While I was waiting for the machine to work I asked the middle aged cop if he'd grown up in the area or, like most everyone, came from somewhere else. He told me he came from Melbourne and relocated for the lifestyle. He said he loved the cruisey vibe. I just sort of imagined him and the other cops hanging out by the beach before they came to work and it suddenly hit me: what would happen if there was a really nasty and clever serial killer on the Sunshine Coast? How would the cruisey cops handle it? They'd be out of their depth. I'd lived in different parts of the area for a while and I knew the local terrain pretty well. It's such a mix with Hastings Street and then all these isolated weird parts way up the river. As I started doing the research I realised, like Darian, that the Sunshine Coast would be a terrific place to live if you were a serial killer.
The second book, Dead Girl Sing, is set on the Gold Coast. Darian gets a call to find a young woman. As south-east Queensland is pretty much one long series of beaches and towns, stretching the New South Wales border almost up to Fraser Island, with just a few tracts of rural land in between, I want to make Darian's turf stretch across this whole area. As with Promise, all the other books will also cover his time in Melbourne where he ran the homicide squad. The third book in the series takes us back to the Sunshine Coast where his nemesis The Train Rider will make an unwelcome appearance.
Question: What is the best thing about creating a character like Darian Richards?
Tony Cavanaugh: Being a twerpy sort of guy I like it when Darian cracks heads and snaps bones. Aside from that I enjoyed the freedom of creating a character that is so flawed. He's got a few demons and he's hardly a poster boy for the police force or for private investigators. I loved the freedom of being able to dwell in his thought process - particularly when he works through the angles and how various people are going to respond to his actions. Writing scripts is all about writing action and dialogue - no time for inner thoughts. That was really liberating. I also really enjoyed the terrible burden of righteousness that he has. No matter what he wants to do he'll never be able to step away from hunting down bad guys.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Tony Cavanaugh: A lot. That old cliché "the truth is stranger than fiction" is absolutely correct. I found that out when I was doing The Day of the Roses about the Granville train disaster and Through My Eyes about the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain. With the novel I drew on my experiences with a number of cops, from the Melbourne Arson Squad, to homicide. In particular one of the lead detectives in homicide. Also an FBI-trained profiler. I also did a huge amount of research in the investigative process and, for Winston, on the psychopathic tendencies of killers.
Question: Similar to Darian Richards; do you ever think you'll be able to retire from writing whether that be writing books or for film and television?
Tony Cavanaugh: No. Darian will never be able to leave the gun and stick to sitting on his jetty watching pelicans and I'll never stop writing. I started when I was about 13 and have loved it ever since. I really, really enjoyed the process of writing a novel. It's just you and the publisher and editor. In film and TV it's a room full of people and the name of the game is compromise. I imagine I'll drop dead with a pen in my hand or my fingers hovering over a keyboard.
Interview by Brooke Hunter