Interesting you asked. I wrote a number of scenes in the first two books when the lawyers talked with their clients about money. How to put this gently? They sucked. They were the most boring scenes you could imagine. But, trust me fees are very much on my mind – every client, every day. So in Book Three, Nancy Parish has a long rant about how when you do a big murder trial for a client on legal aid your whole financial (and personal) life goes out the window.
2.) While I have seen a few
judges none of the judges I know appear to be models for your fictional judges. Were your judges inspired by actual judges? Ontario
I so love my judges. They are such great fun to create and write about. The tremendous writer Giles Blunt says he often judges (that word) a writer by the strength of their minor characters. Of course these are not based on actual judges – none of the characters are. But that is not to say I don’t slice little bits of people I see and splice them together. My real goal is that no character be a cliché. Maybe a bit over the top sometimes, but real people. In The Guilty Plea, I had the opportunity to show Judge Summers had another dimension. (To brag just a bit, the scene when Ari Greene goes to see Summers in his the judge’s chambers is one I am very proud of. You will see that I ended a key section of the book with it.)
A funny story: After
came out, a judge stopped me in the hall one day and said: “Robert, that lawyer in the book, Nancy Parish, I know exactly who you based her on.” “Oh,” I said, smiling a bit to myself I must admit, “Who?” He then named a female lawyer. “Funny you should say that,” I told the judge. “You know, I’ve never heard of that woman in my life.” We both laughed. Here’s the kicker – it was true. I’d never heard of her before. Old City Hall
3.) Most legal mysteries concentrate on either the prosecutor or the defence counsel. Why do you focus equally upon them?
Great question. I didn’t know a great deal about mysteries when I started
. Never really thought of it as a mystery, indeed still don’t. But I did start reading a number of so called ‘legal thrillers’ as I went along. I always found when the Crown, or the judge, was the nasty bad guy it always seemed so cliché. Not real. I’m only interested in trying to tell the story of this city, this time, as I see it. Old City Hall
Nice note: I went to speak to a grade ten English class a while ago. They’d studied
, and it was amazing. At one point I asked, “Who is the hero of the book?” A question I don’t really have the answer to. Kids said Greene, Brace, Kennicott…then one shy boy put up his hand and said “I think it was Albert Fernandez’s father. He’s the one who influenced his son to do the right thing.” Old City Hall
The answer totally blew me away. Brings tears to my eyes even as I write this.
I guess that’s the best answer of all.
4.) Can a legal mystery which is not weighted to Crown or defence end in a conviction?
Happens every day in real life.
5.) Juries and judges want a plausible alternative to the accused being the killer. In The Guilty Plea the alternative did not come until the very end though all the lawyers and police were very thorough in their investigations. It would have been more credible to me to have the alternative introduced earlier in the plot as in Scott Turow’s book Innocent. Could you explain the plotting decision to have the alternative at the end?
Well we need a very long lunch to talk about plot. The toughest thing. Plotting decisions. That’s a new term for me. Thanks, now I won’t sleep tonight!
I know there are some people who read these answers who will not have read the book, so I’m choosing my words carefully. I think if you look back again at the book you’ll see that in fact I did cover all my bases.
6.) Having a 4 year old, Simon, as a key witness brought back memories for me of a case where I questioned a 4 year old. I sent the accused out of the courtroom during the evidence as I could not figure out how the accused should look while the child testified and wanted the jury to focus on the evidence not my client’s reaction to the evidence. In my case, unlike your case, the police and social worker had not asked neutral questions in their interview. Had you considered making Simon an actual trial witness?
I did but it was very clumsy. And I try to always change things up for the reader. If you flip through either of my books, you’ll see that each chapter starts in a very different way.
Same goes for the courtroom scenes. It is boring to just read about witness after witness. By doing it this way, the video almost becomes a character. There’s the making of the video, the feel and sound of playing the video, and Greene’s reaction to seeing himself on tape. I think this is much stronger, richer.
And, this is evidence introduced at the bail hearing. A child would never testify at that stage in the proceedings.
Thanks for the informed questions