About Distress Signals
Published May 5 by Corvus/Atlantic in Ireland and the UK, June 2 in Australia and New Zealand. Details of North American publication later in 2016 coming soon.
Did she leave, or was she taken?
The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads 'I'm sorry - S' sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.
Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground...
“Pacey, suspenseful and intriguing … [A] top class, page turning read. Catherine Ryan Howard is an astonishing new voice in thriller writing.” — Liz Nugent, author of 2014 IBA Crime Novel of the Year Unravelling Oliver
“An exhilarating debut thriller from a hugely talented author. Distress Signals is fast-paced, twisty and an absolute joy to read.” — Mark Edwards, #1 bestselling author of The Magpies and Follow You Home
Read a preview of the first three chapters here:
Interview with Catherine
My mother has this habit of giving you things to read she thinks you might be interested in. Back at the end of 2011 she saved me a copy of the Guardian’s Weekend magazine which had the story of a Disney employee from the UK who’d disappeared from one of the Disney cruise ships, the Wonder. Half-way through, it mentioned something called the International Cruise Victims organisation. I’d never been on a cruise, but I had what I think are typical ideas about them: sunshine, tropical beaches, cocktails, buffets, rest and relaxation. Nothing bad happening, except for maybe food poisoning or a rare accident like that which befell the Costa Concordia. I wondered: what was happening on these ships that they were “victims” and why were there so many of them that this group clearly needed to exist? I started researching the topic online and was shocked at what I found. It led me to believe that cruise ships were the ideal place to get away with a murder and, eventually, this grew into the idea for a thriller about a serial killer who thinks that too.
2) Did you do any research for the story?
Yes, I spent a lot of time researching real cruise ships crimes and disappearances, and also the intricacies of maritime law. A big chunk of my research was done very pleasantly in Nice, France – the ship has a port day there, and it’s at the point in the cruise where the missing girl was last seen, so it plays a big role in the book. I also talked to some friends of mine who’ve worked on cruise ships, to get a feel for what it’s like to be crew as opposed to passengers.
3) How long did it take you to write?
I got the idea in late 2011 but because I’m a pathological procrastinator I didn’t start writing it until late 2012. Then I’d write a few thousand words in a binge and not work on it again for weeks or months. I finally finished the first draft in the summer of 2014, and that was only because I was going back to college as a mature student and term was starting two weeks later, and I knew there’d be no time for writing then! After my agent took me on, we did a rewrite that took me about six weeks. Same for the next rewrite that I did with Sara, my editor at Corvus/Atlantic. After that, it was just copyediting and proof-reading. So, from idea to shelf, you’re talking about five years.
4) Do you have any plans for more novels in the future?
Yes, I got a two-book deal with Corvus so I need to write them another one! I’m just coming to the end of the first draft of it now. It’s another standalone thriller but it’s set on dry land this time.
5) What do you like to do to relax?
I have a bit of a stationery shopping problem. I love planners, stickers, notebooks, etc. Keep me away from Etsy, Erin Condren and Me and My Big Ideas. The shopping bit and the playing with them afterwards bit are quite relaxing, but seeing the price of them on your credit card bill isn’t as much!