Sean Black grew up in Scotland, but also spent parts of his childhood in the United States, including a stint attending high school in Terre Haute, Indiana. Video game machines, hotel ice dispensers, and the fact that it didn’t rain ninety-percent of the time left him with the indelible impression that America was indeed a promised land.
By the time he graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Sean had already published some short fiction and print journalism. A summer spent teaching in a housing project in New Orleans and following former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke’s campaign for US Senate taught him that while America was still a promised land, there might be more to it than video games, ice dispensers, and better weather.
After graduation, and thinking that writing screenplays would be a way to write full-time, without having to starve in a garret, Sean won a place at Columbia University in New York to study for his Master of Fine Arts in Film. He lived in New York for three and a half years, before moving to Los Angeles, where he met his wife.
Making a living as a screenwriter proved trickier than he’d thought, so in 1995, Sean and his wife moved to England where he got a job teaching at a college. Four years later, he landed his first television-writing gig, and quit teaching to write full-time. Between 1999 and 2008, Sean wrote over seventy episodes of some of Britain’s best-known television dramas
In 2006, as part of the research for a television series he was developing, he enrolled on an intensive 24-day bodyguarding course. The TV series wasn’t picked up, but it gave him the idea for a series of thrillers about an ex-military bodyguard who finds himself working in high-end private security. In November of 2007, he started writing the first book in the series, Lockdown.
In September of 2008, after a heated auction, Lockdown sold to Bantam/Transworld in what Publishers Weekly categorised as ‘a major deal’. Dutch, German, and Russian rights were also quickly snapped up.
The research for the second book in the series took Sean to Pelican Bay Supermax prison in California—home to some of America’s most violent criminals. There were no video games or ice dispensers—which is as it should be.