Legal Thriller, Mystery and Crime Fiction with Sherrie Marshall

 

 

 

It’s time for FORENSIC LENSES!

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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*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. 

 

 

 

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*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. 

 

 

 

 

 

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“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?

 

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*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).

 

 

 

 

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*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. .

 

 

 

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*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

 

 

 

 

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*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.

 

 

 

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*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. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks so much for sharing Sherrie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

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Story of the Writer: Kenneth G. Eade

 

 

 

 

 

Story of the Writer

Interview Series:

Kenneth G. Eade 

 

 

Hello everyone, I’m excited to welcome bestselling author Kenneth G. Eade of several political and legal thrillers. Mr. Eade is likened by some to John Grisham in writing style; and also as an experienced  lawyer with 30 years of experience, he’s well positioned for the field.

 

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His newest installment is The Decree of Finality starring lawyer Brent Mark in his popular legal thriller series. He takes on a shady divorce case and gets caught up in a perplexing dilemma.

 

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Here are a few more books in the series.

 

best legal thrillers mystery thriller and suspense police procedurals mystery ebooks courtroom drama books political thrillers and suspense police procedurals and law enforcement crime thrillers and myster

 

 

 

fiction best legal thrillers mystery thriller and suspense police procedurals mystery ebooks courtroom drama books political thrillers and suspense police procedurals and law enforcement crime thrill

 

 

Experience the Beverly Hills Book Awards 2016 winner Killer.com another Brent Marks legal thriller (Brent Marks Legal Thriller Series Book 5). This one is on sale for 0.99 cents on amazon for the next three days! I’ve already got it and it’s looking great for consumption on my TBR list.

 

LET THE GAMES BEGIN! 

 

Where are you originally from? (I saw online you’re currently in France. Never been there)

I’m originally from Los Angeles.  As a kid I lived for a while in Athens, Greece, and I guess I got the travel bug.  So, eventually, I ended up living in France.

I used to live in orange county, interesting place. Athens sounds like a great city to see. Looking forward to visiting France one day. Oui monsieur! 

 

What areas of law have you practiced?

Criminal law, family law, bankruptcy, business law, and civil litigation.  I guess you can say I’ve done it all.

Wowsers, that’s pretty broad experience.  I have to say the complexity of law is mind boggling, especially across different cultures. In my current WIP,  I’m attempting to create differing legal systems that’ll conflict with one another. 

 

Do you have any major hobbies you enjoy?

I enjoy traveling and also like to play golf.

Ah golf, never played a lick in my life. Unless you include the golfing range. It’s not bad if you can actually hit the ball though.

 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, but I never knew I had it in me until just a few years ago.

That’s awesome and I can totally relate. I didn’t start writing until last year myself. Looks like your off to a great start though! 

 

Tell us about your new book, the Decree of Finality.

In “Decree of Finality” lawyer Brent Marks takes on a divorce case against his better judgment, and ends up with quite more than he bargained for, including murder.

It’s amazing how the simplest things can turn sour on a dime. The case is very intriguing by the way. You had me hooked!

 

You’ve already written a few series, which is your favorite? Why?

There are two series, the “Involuntary Spy Espionage Series” and the “Brent Marks Legal Thriller Series”.  I can’t say I like one any more than the other.  Both are an adventure in political fiction which highlight contemporary social and political issues in each novel.

Both series have received good reviews. I can’t wait to finish the rest of the Brent Marks legal thrillers. Then I’ll make my way over to the Spy Espionage series. 

 

Who’s your favorite character you’ve crafted?

There are so many.  I probably like “Richard Hannaford” who is a lawyer in the Brent Marks Legal Series because he was the most fun to create.

Hmm. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for him as I’m reading. 

 

Can you briefly describe how you write a thriller?

First, I decide what type of issue I would like to focus on.  Then, I figure out how to wrap a story around that issue and make it exciting and entertaining to read.

Short and sweet, I like it. Somewhere I read you call it “faction”.  Real situations and life problems wrapped around  fictional characters. 

 

What are your favorite travel destinations?

I like to go where I am invited.  It is much better to visit a foreign country as a visitor rather than a tourist.

Love the mindset. It leaves the possibilities open worldwide. 

 

What is it about traveling you enjoy?

I used to look at the planes taking off and wish I could be on one, but after being on so many it’s getting a little difficult.  I like to wake up in a different world, where people are speaking a different language and the culture, architecture, art and history are old, but new to me.  There are thousands of stories to be discovered on unknown shores.

Yes! Totally. There’s something to being enveloped in another culture that gives you an awesome sense of adventure. I hope you discover more stories there. 

 

Do you have a favorite spot to write?

Not really.  I have an office I use in each of the two places I live.  The most unusual location was the one where I wrote the epilogue to my last novel: In a cafe overlooking the Coliseum in Rome.

Oh, I’m so jealous! I’d totally dig drinking coffee overlooking the Roman coliseum, that’d be EPIC.

 

Highlight the best thing in your experience as a lawyer.

I have seen a lot of human misery in my former profession, but the most rewarding part of it was helping someone to right a wrong that had been done to them.

That does sound pretty rewarding, helping someone right a wrong. It also sounds pretty complicated. I can only imagine how perplexing it must be.

 

In all your experience as a lawyer, the good and the bad, what is your view of justice?

Justice is subjective and the scales of justice are held in the hands of fallible humans, each with their own opinions, biases and prejudices.  You are not going to find justice in front of a judge, jury, or with a zealous prosecutor.  Whatever God you believe in may be able to dispense justice, but the legal system will never do so.  You either win or lose.  I have won cases should have been lost and lost cases that should have been won.  I am sorry to say this, but it is the reality.  Last year, in Paris, I saw an exhibition of Taryn Simon called “The Innocents”, which included a video presentation of people who had been locked up in prison most of their lives until they were freed by DNA testing.  It was a heartbreaking essay on the reality of justice.

 

Wow. This statement carries a lot of weight, but I love how you explain it.  Justice is subjectively biased in the hands fallible humans. That’s makes perfect sense to me. That’s why there’s so many grey areas. I suppose it makes for great fiction.

 

1. You’re a writer; so what’s your story?  What inspired you to take this journey?

I started writing articles for a local law journal.  After writing a few articles on the importance (and disappearance) of bees, I culled a few of them together, did more research, and came up with my first book, “Bless the Bees”.  During my research on “Bless the Bees” I discovered a lot of things about genetically engineered foods and that became the focus of my first novel, “An Involuntary Spy”.

That’s a fascinating story indeed. You also have great reviews for this book, can’t wait the read it!

 

2. As a successfully published author what is your current GOAL (S)?

My current goal is to expand readership to the point where my messages get to as many people as the entertainment of James Patterson, Harlan Coben and John Grisham.

That’s a great goal indeed! Well, you’re off to a good start. Patterson and Grisham I know, but haven’t heard of Coben. Will have to check him out. 

 

3. What three things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

To write, you need to have absolute concentration.  Living in a city (and family) environment, sometimes that is hard to find.  Secondly, you have to discipline yourself, which goes hand in hand with motivation.  Finally, you have to constantly market your books or nobody will ever know about them.

Well said. I’m finding this to be true in writing my current project. Absolute concentration is golden, precious, yet hard to come by. Discipline and motivation must be cultivated at all costs. Marketing our work is another beast altogether. I’ll be interviewing the great Jane Friedman, and will be sure to include a question or two about this subject. 

 

4. What keeps you motivated? (DESIRE)

Comments from readers who say that they enjoy my books, or have learned something useful from them.

That’s great motivation. I enjoyed the research you included in The Decree of Finality. Knowing real life facts brings about an awareness to the subject. 

 

5. What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals?

Nothing gets in the way of accomplishment of a goal if you really want to achieve it.

Nothing to disagree with here. Find what you want to accomplish and go after it headfirst.

 

6. Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?

I don’t know because it has never happened to me.

Great! 

 

7. What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Why are you giving up?  If you have a talent to express yourself in writing, a passion to do it and a need to express yourself, you should never give up.  Then you will succeed.

I LOVE IT. We all need to hear that from time to time. I say don’t quit, keep writing and let er’ rip. 

 

BONUS: What are your favorite quotes?

 

“if they give you lined paper, write the other way.”

~ Juan Ramon Jimemez

 

 

You can also list a few of your favorite books, novels, or writing books.

“A Covenant with Death” by Stephen Becker

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

 

Thanks Mr. Eade! Really appreciate your time. Come back and see us again!

 

 

KEEP WRITING

SOMEONE OUT THERE 

NEEDS YOUR STORY

 

 

Every word makes a a difference

~ Benjamin Thomas  (yes, I do quote myself occasionally)

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com