You are a lawyer, how has that influenced you and your writing? Most people think being a trial lawyer is what they see on TV -- lawyers making impassioned speeches in courtrooms to edge-of-their-seat jurors. Not so. Most of a trial lawyer's communications are written in briefs and motions to the judge. 95 percent of all lawsuits are settled before trial. So being a persuasive writer is a great advantage and persuasive means succinct, clear and even entertaining. Most lawyers write in long, complicated, boring sentences. I assume that judges curse them and love me.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Carl Gordon is the main character, but really only one of the "important" characters. He drags his 12 year old son from New York to Stockville, Alabama to enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and he's remarkably unprepared for what he is about to encounter -- the Klan, local law enforcement, the black community. But he's also a great lawyer and a quick learner. He's a hero in his own way, but no more so than Micah, a Black, self-taught intellectual auto mechanic who also happens to be the strongest man in
Was there a real-life inspiration behind your development of characters? Three of the characters are drawn from people I know or have known in the past. Did I mention I love those people? Think about it, they're interesting enough to make a fictional character out of them alone. Now that's a real life character! The rest of the characters are composites of people I've known, stories I've read and my imagination. I think all writers will tell you that there are ribbons of themselves running through their characters. That's certainly true for me. Maybe that's why writers become such good friends with the characters they create.
In what genre(s) do you write? Have you looked at a recent list of genres recognized now recognized by the literary community. It's hysterical. There are more categories than Facebook gender identifiers. It's easier to tell you what genre I don't write in - Science Fiction! I think that's because I didn't watch enough TV (except sports) when I was young, and because I'm too grounded in reality, well, maybe reality on steroids, also known as fiction.
Did publishing your first book change your thought process on writing? Was it a positive or negative experience? Publishing a book is for a writer like crossing the finish line in a marathon is for a runner. I guess some writers are content to write for themselves, but I haven't met any. When I started writing Black Hearts White Minds it was to someday publish it. I wanted it to be relevant to today's reader. I had no idea, what with our current president and populist, by which I mean racist, resurgence, it would be this relevant. I can't think of any moment in writing the book that I would describe as negative.
What is the most rewarding part of your artistic process? Getting to know my characters. I love them all. They are some of my best friends. Don't let this get out, but I talk to them all the time.