It’s time for FORENSIC LENSES!
This week we would like to see through the “lenses” of a person who not only loves mystery, legal and crime thrillers; but also who has over two decades of work experience in the legal system. Come join us for another investigative session of Forensic Lenses…
LET’S WELCOME FELLOW WRITER AND MY GOOD FRIEND SHERRIE MARSHALL
*What did you study in college?
I have a B.S. In Organizational Leadership and a minor in Economics. Yes, that’s a real degree. It’s code for how to be a leader in today’s disorganized society. The instant gratification expected in everything we touch lends to a society that has become less focused. It has left the door open for much needed leadership. I just hope I can contribute some small part.
I’ve definitely heard of this one. Couple of my comrades have the same degree!
*What genre do you write?
I have an affinity toward legal thrillers and mystery. After serving the legal community for 22 years, I’ve learned that the human spirit is the most creative medium to write about. The criminal side, as well as tangled civil matters fascinate me.
We’re definitely kindred spirits in this department. Legal thrillers, mystery, law…It’s all so fascinating. My dream is to write a sci-fi type legal thriller, then perhaps other quirky legal thrillers. Whatever my imagination can come up with.
*How long have you wanted to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember stories have been brewing around in the old gray matter. It’s only in the last year that I’ve decided to share. Writing has been an evolution for me. Like any artist will probably admit, sharing our craft is intensely personal. I’m delighted to have arrived at a place in my life that I finally have the time to create and the inclination to share.
I like the word you’re using in describing this journey. It’s definitely an evolution in many ways. Writers are the most interesting people on earth. Unless of course, you’d happen to be an alien writer. THAT would be something.
“Easy reading is damn hard writing” -Nathaniel Hawthorne
*What exactly is your work experience? (In the legal system)
The first ten years were spent as a bailiff sitting in the courtroom for trials and hearings of all kind. I worked for a District Judge which allowed me to study human nature stemming from a very unsavory place. It was not for the weak at heart, but I became fascinated with human psyche. After my journey through the courts, I became a paralegal and focused mainly on Securities Litigation. Weirdly, it wasn’t that much different than previous criminal trials I had attended. Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them, money, retirement, possibly business or family. The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.
This is too good, Sherrie. I had a hardy laugh and about cried, all in the span of one paragraph. I laughed at what you said about human nature stemming from an unsavory place. I pictured you making a face at some pungent smell in the courtroom. Lol! But in all seriousness, I almost cried at the mention of loss that people have to face. I guess I never realized it in this way before. Someone is always put at a loss for something dear to them. Whether it be family, friends, possession, freedom etc. There will always be a loss involved with consequence.
“The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature” I love this statement. Human nature is extremely flawed. But some authors explore the beauty in the midst of the storm through their writing. I believe it was Sally Allen who said something about it in our interview. Finding beauty in the midst of the shipwrecked human condition. Very intriguing.
“Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them…”
The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.- Sherrie Marshall
*Which books did you devour growing up?
I loved the antics that Nancy Drew found herself in every novel. I couldn’t wait to check out the next book from the library and shred through it like it was the holy gospel. My imagination worked overtime at a very early age. It fascinated me that a young girl could solve a crime. Talk about your strong female character!
That’s awesome! I admit, I’ve never read Nancy Drew but I’m glad you’re imagination was set on fire! That’s great. Would you ever write a YA mystery?
*Who are your childhood heroes?
My parents were my everything. They showed each other kindness and respect. I held a naïve belief that all children had parents like mine. We took picnics regularly; I can still taste mother’s fried chicken, and we stayed after church to eat dinner on the ground (it’s a southern thing). Then I found Elvis. I completely admired that a backwoods boy from Tupelo, Mississippi could turn his beautiful pipes into a voice heard ‘round the world. The fact that he paused his career to serve his country deepened my admiration even more. I always thought if he could do it, anyone who tried hard would have a chance too.
That’s great. Parents are a very important part of our lives. Elvis is awesome. I love to impersonate Elvis. I actually have a pair of “Elvis” sunglasses (Shh..Don’t tell anyone).
*What are your favorite legal thrillers and mysteries?
John Grisham is the legal thriller king in my book. I have to say after studying writing for decades, he is not the best person to emulate if you’re a newbie. He breaks all the writing rules, but is a fine example of consistency in delivering a wallop of a story to readers every time. Books in this department include The Testament and The Innocent Man by Grisham, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow.
I’m a Grisham fan as well. I have the Testament downloaded but haven’t read it yet. Definitely looking forward to reading Harper Lee, and I’ve yet to read Scott Turow. .
*List your favorite crime and mystery writers.
James Patterson is simply a freak of nature in the writing world, and I also enjoy English cozies by Deborah Crombie. I believe I’ve read all novels written by both authors.
Awesomesauce! I have some Patterson books lined up on my to-be-read-list. The cozy mysteries are extremely appealing for some reason. The next one I’ll read is by Elizabeth Spann Craig, or Riley Adams.
“Maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” -Unknown
*Who are your top 5 sleuths and what do you appreciate about them?
Alex Cross (Patterson) is such a lovable detective. He has a realistic family life with ups and downs that carries through the entire series. The crimes he must solve are heinous, which peaks my interest.
Gemma James (Crombie) is a female detective that solves crimes in the UK with sensible rationale. No hyper-dramas, which I appreciate.
Sherlock Holmes is of course on my list. He is so flawed by nature, that I can’t help but pull for him when solving a crime.
Mike Hammer (Spillane) had a no nonsense style that forged “hard boiled” detectives into my brain at a fairly young age. All that Hammer reading became beneficial later when I worked with lawyers
Inspector Clouseau was such a bumbler, I couldn’t help but love him. Since I was so young, I never knew whether or not the caper would be solved. But of course, they all were, which may be my earliest hook into the legal arena. The movies released in the 60’s and 70’s were always a family favorite.
I love it! This is a very diverse group of sleuths. Honestly I’ve been pondering starting a Mystery Thriller Week starting February 2017. Interested? I could use your assistance.
“Danger is the snack food of a true sleuth” -Mac Barnett
*What do you experience as they solve crimes?
The novels that capture my attention always propose more than one logical answer to a set of problems. I am enthralled with how the sleuth arrives at his decision to pursue one only to find that it is a complete disaster. I’m not a fan of such plot devices as Deus ex Machina, but I love a surprise during the climax of any novel, as long as there was some small crumb left along the way that I can go back and connect. It becomes the “Wow” factor for me in novels. I’m a “twist” junkie.
Nice. I’m thinking it must be very challenging to fool an experienced mystery reader.
AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME….
*As a reader, what are your top 5 pet peeves?
Talking heads, hopping heads, a huge cast of characters with a POV, abandoning me for 100 pages after a cliff-hanger, and novels without resolution. I like to know what happened after the disaster.
Very good list here. I’m always fascinated by what irks readers in their experience of a story. It gives great insight.
*What fascinates you most about criminal, civil matters?
I led a lovely sheltered and protected childhood and was shocked to discover the other side of human nature. I began to research what made serial killers tick, and why passion seems to be the human emotion I most closely equate with animal instinct. In other words, if someone is threatened with the loss of something they hold as dear to them as breathing, then fight or flight enters into the equation. I believe that is where the wires get crossed in many killers. Civil trials can be as twisted and quirky as criminal court. One of my favorites included a lawsuit where a real estate developer decided to cut corners and not spray for termites under the foundation. Guess what can swarm thick enough during dinner to blind you? Yep, termites. It was strange though, after the verdict in favor of the family, that home burned to the ground while they were on an extended vacation. Hmm, fascinating.
Fascinating indeed. I can see why discovering the other side of human nature would be very shocking. It sounds like such a contrast doesn’t it? Certainly makes for great fiction!
*As a person who has much experience in the legal system, what is justice?
Such a loaded question! Justice is administered in a legal sense when a jury of your peers decides on a verdict. But, whoa, is that a huge oversimplification?! In my personal opinion, real justice is when a wrong is set right, be it sincere incarceration for an offender or the correction of a civil issue. Where these two can never meet to administer true and rightful justice is a flaw in our judicial system. Laws are made to protect us all, but at what expense to our basic rights as humans? It is unfortunately deemed prejudicial to a defendant to tell a jury about his prior convictions for similar crimes and patterns. I never sat through a trial where a jury was allowed to consider every piece of evidence for this reason. Jurors and Judges have some of the hardest jobs on the planet. They must weigh all evidence and vote to do the “Just” thing. Justice probably boils down to what Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.”
I couldn’t wait to ask this question. LOVED EVERY BIT. This is a large reason why I’m even writing at all. What is justice? I can’t escape this question. It comes back to me time and again.
Thanks so much for sharing Sherrie!
8 thoughts on “Legal Thriller, Mystery and Crime Fiction with Sherrie Marshall”
Thanks Benjamin for the fun interview. So interesting to see your own thoughts in lights.
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You bet. It’s always fun.
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Excellent interview. I especially like Sherrie’s insights into the legal system and her list of favorite authors. It was also interesting to me to know that someone raised the way she was would choose and stay working in the legal system as long as she has and yet still love it so much that she writes about it. BTW, I share her enthusiasm for James Patterson. I love both his Alex Cross series and the Women’s Murder Club series.
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Awesome, thanks for chiming in Steve. I found the same level of fascination about the legal matters as well as passion for Patterson, Grisham and the like.
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Steve thanks for reading and chiming in. Benjamin is an awesome interviewer and I love his blog.
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That was an awesome interview! Smart evocative questions and heartfelt thoughtful answers. I was a Nancy Drew fan, too, so much so that my friends and I pretended to be Nancy and her friends all through fifth grade. I never got to be Nancy, but I’d like to think I made a pretty good sidekick. ♥
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Hi Yvonne! Thanks to Sherrie.
Yvonne, it was rather simple to work with such an awesome interviewer as Benjamin. Thanks for your lovely comments.
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