I recently had the honor of interviewing published author, Terry Lewis, on his debut novel Conflict of Interest. I read this book two months ago, but just now had the courage to ask for an interview. I'm not sure why I was hesitant to ask; he was happy to answer my questions!
Have a peak and then go buy his book. It's one that will have you talking to the book like you do a movie where you want to yell at the protagonist because he's getting himself in a pickle!
Q: Your protagonist has obvious flaws. Why did you choose the ones you did?
Lewis: What do you mean obvious flaws? I thought he was just about perfect. Okay, seriously, I knew I wanted a narrator who might be the murderer. I wanted the reader to wonder about him, yet hope he or she was wrong. So, he needed to be likeable at the core, but prone to bad decisions so that you want to slap him. Alcohol abuse is both a symptom and a contributing factor for such people. Mix in a willingness to push the envelope a little, a tendency to engage in risky behavior yet avoid its consequences, and voila!
Q: How did your being a judge influence Conflict of Interest and how you wrote it?
Lewis: I don't know that being a judge necessarily influenced it but certainly my legal experience as a lawyer and judge was the key factor in what I chose to write and the sorts of scenes, language, etc in the novel. The law is what I know and I have always liked this genre, so it was a natural route for me.
Q: What was your journey to publication like? Were there any obstacles with your debut novel Conflict of Interest?
Lewis: I was very lucky. When I started thinking seriously about trying to get it published, I read books and articles about it. I sent out query letters to about twenty agents, and to one small publisher in Florida. I ended up getting interest from an agent at the same time the publisher expressed interest. I put the two together and ended up with a contract.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out, what pitfalls to avoid?
Lewis: The best advice I ever received was, write what you like to read -- a variation on write what you know. The point is if you are writing a novel, it is going to take you a long time. Best to spend that time with something that is interesting to you. Otherwise, you will lack the passion, the discipline, to see it through.
Q: I realize research is essential when writing fiction. If the police checked your browsing history would you be in trouble?
Lewis: I sure hope not, but if so, it probably wouldn't be because of research for my novels. One of the reasons I chose to write legal thrillers/mysteries was because the legal world was one I already knew pretty well. I do some research on things, and the Internet has proved useful in this respect. I also have inquired of medical examiners or other experts about some of the forensics.
Q: What other novels of yours would you recommend to fans of Conflict of Interest?
Lewis: That's easy. I only have one other published novel -- Privileged Information.
Q: Are you currently working on another novel and if so, can you tell a little about it?
Lewis: Yes, I have a third novel that has been finished for some time and in search of a home. It is about a paranoid schizophrenic patient in Florida State Hospital who is accused of killing his psychologist. The story is told primarily by the lawyer, but also by the patient. I am also working on a 4th, in which a lawyer who represents a judge accused of murder learns that her father may in fact be guilty of the crime.
And that concludes my first ever author interview. Thanks, Terry! We will be looking forward to the publication of your third and fourth novels.