You’ve asked me to describe what it was like to write the book.
Liberating. Thrilling. Excruciating. Boring. Satisfying. Fun.
And then I moved on to Chapter Two.
That’s also what it was like to be a prosecutor.
I set out to write crime fiction because I wanted to revisit the world I knew as a deputy district attorney in the Special Trials Unit in Los Angeles when there were no cameras in the courtroom. A world where the detectives would bring me a case for filing and we could go out and talk to the witnesses, visit the crime scenes, and prepare the case from the ground up. It was a lot of hard work, long nights, and there was plenty of emotional stress. After all, the job requires us to deal with people who’ve suffered tragic, heart wrenching loss. But there was also satisfaction in seeking justice, and helping the victims. And there was the fun and camaraderie of working with the detectives and other prosecutors. I wanted to write a series that revolved around a female prosecutor so I could convey all of that.
Enter Rachel Knight, prosecutor in the Special Trials Unit, and her friends, Detective Bailey Keller and fellow prosecutor, Toni LaCollette. In the first book in the series, Guilt by Association, you have a murder mystery set in L.A.’s law and order system with a little something for everyone – murder, rape, blackmail, street gangs, pornography, shady power brokers, and a blossoming love story. The leading characters are strong, smart, down to earth women who don’t take themselves too seriously, so the dialogue has lots of wise-cracking. It’s the kind of fast paced murder mystery/who-dun-it I love diving into.
Not only was the recreation of the world and its characters great fun, but it was wonderful not to be limited to the evidence at hand. Having come from a life devoted to the practice of law, it was a brand new and terrific thing to be able to add evidence whenever I wanted. So, if I’m writing a story and it looks like the case isn’t strong enough, I hit the backspace button and add …fingerprints! DNA! Fibers! Hairs! Whenever I do it, I laugh out loud in front of my computer and tell the bad guy, ‘Hah! Take that!’ My friends do find it a little weird to be around me when I’m writing. But everyone’s got something, right?
Of course, there were times when I stared at the blinking cursor and wanted to bang my head against the table. Inspiration felt like an unreachable island on the other side of the equator. But I couldn’t afford to just walk away for a while and wait for inspiration to find me. I had a day job and the few hours I managed to carve out of my day for writing were precious. So on those days, I forced myself to write anyway. This did not necessarily produce gems. There were times I’d read what I’d written, hate it, throw it away, and start over – again and again. On those days, I’d think that writing a book was the worst idea I’d ever had. But then I’d hit a day when the ideas flowed like good wine; it was almost a euphoric feeling. On those days, I’d wonder who that crazy woman was who thought that writing a book was a stupid idea. There was nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing than writing a book. Though I didn’t know it at the time, those highs and lows are pretty common.
Now they tell me.
All joking aside, there was never any question in my mind that I wanted to, had to, write the book. And in truth, it’s been an absolute joy to recreate the world I loved – the crimes, the criminals, and the characters that make up the world of Rachel Knight. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it, and that we can take this ride with Rachel and company together for a long time to come.
Guilt by Assocation is publihsed by Mulholland/Hodderon May 12