Interview by Chris High
This is your first novel in the genre of the legal thriller. What made you decide to turn your hand to this form of writing and how does it differ from what you have written before with the Harry Bosch series?
It came out of my desire to explore something new to take a little break from Harry Bosch. I have always loved legal stories, going back to reading To Kill a Mockingbird. So it was something I’ve always wanted to try.
Where did the idea of Mickey Haller operating his business from the back of a car come from?
About five years ago I met a criminal defence attorney who told me he worked out of the back of his car and I stayed in touch with him and met some other defence attorneys who were willing to let me be a fly on the wall as they conducted business.
“There is no client as scary as an innocent man,” is a line from the preface to the novel and is quoted throughout. You have said in previous interviews that being called as a witness to testify against a man you knew to be innocent first lit your enthusiasm for the criminal process. In relation to this, how would an innocent man scare an attorney more than one who is guilty, in your opinion?
That line was actually a line from a real defence attorney. What he meant by it is that there is only one acceptable outcome to a case involving an innocent client. Not guilty. Exhoneration. There can be no middle ground. No deal. No plea bargain. So that puts a lot of pressure on the attorney. It’s scary. Because if the lawyer doesn’t get that not guilty verdict then they have to live with their own guilt in knowing an innocent man is in prison because their effort wasn’t good enough.
has two ex-wives, one of whom works for him. Was it difficult to develop their
relationships, yet keep and increase reader empathy with Haller throughout the
I rather enjoyed writing about a guy having two ex-wives who still liked him, maybe even loved him. I think that helped me build empathy for Mickey, hopefully made the reader think that there must be something redeeming in him if both of these women still like him.
pace of the novel is relentless. Did you find it difficult to maintain and did
you do anything significantly different from when writing the Bosch novels,
which appear more “laid back”?
I really didn’t do anything different. I think because the book is not a police investigation some of the plodding, legwork was not needed and this allowed the story to flow quickly. Also, there is a lot of movement in the story. Mickey is in his car moving while handling cases. It sort of builds in a velocity to the story that wouldn’t be there if he was sitting in an office behind a big desk having the same conversations.
When writing, books do you like to read and do you stay strictly within your own genre?
When I am really in a groove writing I don’t really like to read any books because they can be intrusive. If I do read I stay away from the genre and prefer reading non-fiction. Biographies mostly.
Haller uses some dubious methods to see justice is done. How fictitious is this kind of behaviour as far as you are aware, both amongst lawyers and the police?
My view is that there isn’t too much fiction in the methods Haller uses. I did a lot of research on the book and pretty much drew from real stories I was told by real lawyers.
The book has been short-listed for the Richard & Judy Book Club Book of the Year award in the UK. This must be very satisfying, given that the winner is elected by the readership?
Yes, it is a very nice honor to be on the shortlist. It is very fulfilling to know a story I have labored over for many, many hours is enjoyed and even taken to heart by readers from so far from where I live and from where the story is set.
The Lincoln Lawyer has been optioned for movie release by Lakeshore Entertainment. As Clint Eastwood played such a big hand in Blood Work and also in Lakeshore’s Million Dollar Baby, do you envisage a role for him in any forthcoming movie project, either as a director or actor?
I doubt it but you never know in Hollywood.
Will you be attending any fiction festivals during the coming year in the UK?
At the moment I don’t have a trip to the UK scheduled other than the quick trip to the British book awards. But I am sure I will be back soon.
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|by Michael Connelly at Amazon.co.uk|