Nearly all of us work in some business and the better part of our waking hours is often spent engaged in that work, so placing my novels in an industry has always felt to me to be a natural extension of life. The industry in STAR TIME (coming out this Wednesday) is network television. In my legal thriller A QUESTION OF PROOF, the victim is a newspaper publisher. BIRTHRIGHT (being published soon) is the saga of an investment banking family. The amount of research that I had to master to be able to write knowledgeably about those industries was often daunting. If one is not a scientist and, more specifically, a scientist in the specific discipline in which a novel is to be set, the research can be even more daunting. Exposure to the science can be fascinating to readers, but that will prove inconsequential to creating a compelling novel if the characters and their concerns do not fascinate as well.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Having just published A QUESTION OF PROOF, a legal thriller with twists and turns not resolved until the very last sentence, I’ve had some experience with the genre. And being a lawyer by training, I probably have a leg up on legal intricacies. But I would suggest that the legal thriller is only effective if it is a story about the people involved, with the legal system, say a murder trial, being the inexorable peril they confronting them. Peril is the essential ingredient for any thriller, and an all-powerful legal system is a fearsome form of peril with some form of loss at stake for the defendant and, at its most intriguing, those around the defendant. The threat can run from the loss of something the defendant holds dear to, at its most fearsome, death by a jury’s decree.
In A QUESTION OF PROOF, Susan Boelter is charged with murdering her newspaper-publisher husband, who was divorcing her and appeared to be on the brink of taking everything from her, including custody of their thirteen-year-old daughter. She asks Dan Lazar, a renowned criminal defense attorney, to defend her. But he faces two obstacles to taking on her defense: He is about to lose his license to practice law due to trumped-up charges of witness tampering; and, more important, he and Susan are lovers. The legal system has provided the hurdles and dangers, but they are only the means for exploring the acts, motives and relationships of the people trapped within it. I say the story remains unresolved until the very last sentence, but that sentence relates to Susan and Dan and their relationship, not to a legal outcome. If readers care about their story, they will be engrossed in discovering their fate until the very last word.