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Monday, June 30, 2014

Larry D. Thompson, Author of The Insanity Plea Interviews on Laurie's Thougts and Reviews





INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR LARRY D. THOMPSON


How did you start your writing career?

 
I started my writing career as a failure.  I started my first novel about ten years ago, finishing it about two years later (still working my day job).  Thinking I had written the great American novel, I sent it to agents and publishers and was rejected by all.  So, my wife and I promoted it and I finally landed my agent who sold the paperback rights to Tor/Forge.  That led to my next two being published by St. Martin’s Press and I was on my way. .

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

Jackson Douglas Bryant is the protagonist from my last novel.  He’s a poor boy who became rich as a plaintiff lawyer and returned to his hometown of Fort Worth and started doing pro bono legal work from his RV parked on North Main in a poor section of town.  In Dead Peasants, he must figure out the connection between seemingly random murders throughout North Texas before his love interest is killed.  Readers liked him so well that my next story will be about him.


Where do you dream of traveling to and why?


My wife and I want to rent an apartment on the Left Bank iin Paris for six months where I will write a novel.  If it was good enough for Hemingway, it should work for me.

Tell us about your current release.

The Insanity Plea is the story of Wayne Little, a young Houston lawyer who must defend his older brother, a schizophrenic street person who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and is accused of a murder he didn’t do.  The physical evidence is so overwhelming that the plea must be “Not Guilty by reason of insanity.” Wayne enlists the help of his friend, Duke Romack, former NBA star turned criminal lawyer.  When Wayne and Duke review the evidence, they conclude that they either find the real killer or win the plea of insanity.  The former may be a mission impossible since the killer is the most brilliant, devious and cruel fictional murderer since Hannibal Lecter.  The chances of winning an insanity plea are equally grim. The story combines a legal thriller with tracking a serial killer and takes the reader on one helluva ride, right up to the last page and sentence.  . 

Tell us about your next release.

It’s in its embryonic stages, but I’m going back to Jack Bryant, the protagonist in Dead Peasants because my readers wanted to read more about him.

Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

Thomas Thompson was my brother who died way too young.  But he was a best-selling true crime author in the eighties, best known for Blood and Money and Serpentine.

Who is your favorite author?

 
Other than my brother, it would be Ken Follett.

What was your first sale as an author?

So Help Me God

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I’m a morning writer.  I’m still a full time trial lawyer; so, I write a couple of hours in the morning if I’m not in trial and several hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Re-writing and re-writing and re-writing until I am almost sick of my own creation.



Synopsis:


A young nurse is savagely killed during a pre-dawn run on Galveston’s seawall. The murderer slices her running shorts from her body as his trophy and tosses the body over the wall to the rocks below. As dawn breaks, a bedraggled street person, wearing four layers of old, tattered clothes, emerges from the end of the jetty, waving his arms and talking to people only he hears. He trips over the body, checks for a pulse and, instead, finds a diamond bracelet which he puts in his pocket. He hurries across the street, heading for breakfast at the Salvation Army two blocks away, leaving his footprints in blood as he goes.

Wayne Little, former Galveston prosecutor and now Houston trial lawyer, learns that his older brother has been charged with capital murder for the killing. At first he refuses to be dragged back into his brother’s life. Once a brilliant lawyer, Dan’s paranoid schizophrenia had captured his mind, estranging everyone including Wayne. Finally giving in to pleas from his mother, Wayne enlists the help of his best friend, Duke Romack, former NBA star turned criminal lawyer. When Wayne and Duke review the evidence, they conclude that Dan’s chances are slim. They either find the killer or win a plea of insanity since the prosecution’s case is air tight. The former may be a mission impossible since the killer is the most brilliant, devious and cruel fictional murderer since Hannibal Lecter. The chances of winning an insanity plea are equally grim.

It will take the combined skills of the two lawyers along with those of Duke’s girlfriend, Claudia, a brilliant appellate lawyer, and Rita Contreras, Wayne’s next door neighbor and computer hacker extraordinaire, to attempt to unravel the mystery of the serial killer before the clock clicks down to a guilty verdict for Dan.

The Insanity Plea is a spell-binding tale of four amateur sleuths who must find, track and trap a serial killer as they prepare for and defend Wayne brother who is trapped in a mind like that of John Nash, Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind.

Combining legal thriller with tracking a serial killer, Thompson once again takes the reader on a helluva ride, right up to the last page and sentence.


Larry D. Thompson is a veteran trial lawyer and has drawn on decades of experience in the courtroom to produce riveting legal thrillers. After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Thompson founded the Houston trial firm where he still serves as managing partner. The proud father of three grown children, he lives and works in Texas but spends his summers in Colorado, where he crafts his novels and hikes the mountains surrounding Vail. His greatest inspiration came from Thomas Thompson, his brother, who wrote many best-selling true-crime books and novels. 


Reposted from Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews

 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Guest Post: Getting Notes on Your Script: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Dennis Palumbo

When I was a screenwriter in Hollywood, I hated getting notes from producers, directors or studio execs---even if they were good, cogent and likely to improve the script. No, especially if they were good, cogent and likely to improve the script.

Now, after 25 years working as a therapist with writers, I’ve learned that this seemingly contradictory attitude is not unique. For many of my patients, receiving “good” notes on a piece of writing---whether from an agent, editor, producer or studio---doesn’t necessarily elicit better feelings than getting insipid, beside-the-point notes. Which doesn’t, on the surface, seem to make sense.

Or does it? Let’s back up. For most professional writers, a good script or novel or play is the result of total immersion in the “world” of the story: the narrative, characters and thematic aspects seem all of a piece. At some point in the writing, these elements begin to have a kind of inevitability, an internal logic and trajectory beyond the control of the writer.

As with the fabled “runner’s high,” this is a situation familiar to most writers and a welcome indication that the writing is coming together well. The downside of this is that, when finished, the draft has a sense of completeness. It’s not just what it is; it seems to be exactly what it should be.

The isn’t mere hubris on the writer’s part: she legitimately feels she’s been on a journey, that she’s gone somewhere and back. And that this piece of work is the result.

Then the project gets handed in. After which, as every writer knows, things can get strange. (I’m reminded of a comment by noted screenwriter Fredrick Raphael: “You’d better have a good time writing the first draft. That’s the last moment of pleasure you’ll have on the project.”)

Anyway, the point is, now the writer has to get notes on the script. Which means, now the real work begins.

Let’s say the notes from the producer or studio head (or, God help us, the star) are bad: i.e., totally trashing the material, and/or coming up with alternative ideas that take the story far afield from anything halfway coherent or interesting. We’ve all been there. And as bad as this feels, as frustrating and disheartening as the experience can be, at least there’s the sense that you’re fighting the good fight. You’re trying to write well, but unfortunately you’re surrounded by idiots.

On the other hand, let’s say the notes are good: i.e., the producer or agent responds positively to the material, truly understands the narrative and theme, and seems to be a genuine fan of the writing. But here, to your utter dismay, comes a list of suggestions that actually, if followed, would make the story better! And your heart sinks.

Why? Because, if you’re a good writer, you have to acknowledge the wisdom of these suggestions. They do, in fact, clarify the conflict, or deepen the characters, or improve the pacing. The professional part of you can’t ignore the aesthetic or pragmatic logic of these notes.

Which means you have to take a deep breath, squint hard at what you believed was the “finished” project, and figure out a way to once again enter its internal world. If the story and characters felt at all organic and inevitable as you were writing them, nothing is harder than deconstructing them and turning them into something else.

First of all, what Faulkner called a writer’s “precious darlings”---those cherished lines of dialogue, or scene descriptions, or surprise twists---often have to go. Plus, the moment you start exploding, reshaping or eliminating one segment of the script or novel, this automatically affects all the other elements of the material, often necessitating losing really good stuff in the process.

Finally, you have to muster the will and emotional involvement to put yourself in the open, creative space to inhabit the story’s world again. In other words, you have to take another journey there and back, while suppressing the feeling that you’re invalidating the initial journey you took. Your brain says these new ideas will make the project better. Your heart says, “Been there, done that.”

That said, how does a writer deal with this dilemma? One way to look at it is to remember that creativity happens in the here and now. That the experience you had writing the earlier draft, regardless of your belief in the finished product, took place in the past. This new draft is a totally different experience. You aren’t, in fact, making the same journey, but rather embarking on a new one. One that includes, inevitably, your feelings about and loyalty to the first journey, but that now has the potential to strike new creative chords in you.

Because, in the final analysis, creative work is never “done.” As more than one artist has pointed out, projects are never finished---they’re abandoned. They’re taken to a particular end-stage. Then, if revisited by the artist, taken to a new stage. The artist, too, has changed in the interim and can possibly bring this newness to the next step in the process.

From my perspective, this is the best way to accept and appreciate the “good” in good notes. Hell, it might be the only way!


Reposted From Hollywood on the Couch