The Writer's Life Chats with Paul Levine - author of "Flesh and Bones"


The author of 14 novels, Paul Levine won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and was nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber prizes. A former trial lawyer, he also wrote 21 episodes of the CBS military drama JAG and co-created the Supreme Court drama First Monday, starring James Garner and Joe Mantegna. The international bestseller To Speak for the Dead , the first of the Jake Lassiter thrillers, was his debut novel. He is also the author of the Solomon vs. Lord series and the thriller Illegal. All royalties from the e-book edition of Flesh & Bones are pledged to the Four Diamonds Fund for cancer treatment of children. His next novel will be Lassiter, a Bantam hardcover due in September. More information at http://www.paul-levine.com

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Paul. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: I was a trial lawyer before becoming a novelist, and some judges accused me of writing fanciful briefs, so you can say I’ve been writing fiction for 35 years. But my first novel wasn’t published until 1990. That was To Speak for the Dead, the first of the Jake Lassiter legal thrillers. Like me, Jake is a trial lawyer. Unlike me, he gets into fistfights, sometimes in court. His ethics are a little slippery. “They don’t call us sharks for our ability to swim,” he says. I wrote seven Lassiter novels, then a Supreme Court thriller, 9 Scorpions, that became the basis for First Monday, the CBS drama starring James Garner. The show tanked after one season, primarily because our demographics were so old. How old? We were number one for the week in the age group that might be called “between Medicare and the mortuary.” I don’t blame anyone else for this; I co-created and co-exec produced the show. Then I wrote four Solomon vs. Lord novels, a stand-alone thriller, Illegal, and now it’s back to the Jake Lassiter series, both with new hardcovers and with digital books.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: Here’s the opening sentence of Flesh & Bones.

“I was sitting at the end of the bar sipping single-malt Scotch when I spotted the tall blond woman with the large green eyes and the small gray gun.”

The next thing Jake Lassiter knows, the woman pumps three bullets into the man on the next barstool.

And Jake, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, a brew and burger guy in a paté and Chardonnay world, has a new client.

She’s stunning model Chrissy Bernhardt, and the dead man is her wealthy father. The defense? Chrissy claims that she’s recently recovered repressed memories of having been sexually abused by her father. Jake wants to believe her but suspects that the memories were either implanted by a shady psychiatrist or fabricated by Chrissy herself. Complicating the situation, Jake falls for his client, clouding his judgment. Is she an anguished victim or a cold-blooded killer? An explosive murder trial finale will answer those questions.

Here’s why I wrote it. I became fascinated with the subject of “repressed memories” after reading about a California man convicted of killing a child 20 years earlier based on his own daughter’s recovery of lost memories. (The conviction was later overturned…after he’d spent several years in prison). I researched the psychiatric and medical issues and came up with a murder plot I thought was both plausible and suspenseful.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A: Same as always: trying to write scenes that seem as if they’ve never been written before.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A. There’s an excerpt and more information about Flesh & Bones at http://www.paul-levine.com

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A: I’ve been doing Internet radio and podcasts.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: Al Zuckerman, the head of Writers House in New York is my long-time agent. Absolutely necessary to have an agent for traditional publishing.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: It’s really the publisher’s job to do this. My publicist at Random House is charged with this duty, and I’m looking forward to seeing the publicity materials for Lassiter, my September

hardcover releases. Other than that, I maintain tons of info on my Website.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I’m working on the book-after-the-next book, in other words, the Jake Lassiter novel that will follow the September release of Lassiter.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Paul. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: Please visit my website for links to purchase Flesh & Bones and for a free five-chapter excerpt of Lassiter. http://www.paul-levine.com

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