I've always wanted to be a writer, and murder mysteries, suspense novels, and courtroom dramas were my first love. For me it's been a growth process, though. In the fifth grade, when I and everyone I knew were reading the Hardy Boys mysteries, Mrs. Hortenstein assigned an essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up. My essay about wanting to become a mystery writer earned a D, at least in part (I tell myself) because it was just too short. In high school I began to read more science fiction than mystery novels, and I stopped out a semester in college to write science fiction short stories and collect rejection slips. My father insisted I needed a career to fall back on, and so I finished college and went to law school, but legal careers have an unfortunate way of crowding out time to write.
After finishing law school (University of Virginia Class of 1984), I worked as a lawyer in Amarillo and Dallas, Texas, and in Richmond, Virginia. I continued to write when I could, and Penguin USA published my first book, Criminal Intent, in 1992, styling it as "the most shocking thriller since The Firm." It was not the bestselling legal thriller since The Firm (unfortunately), but with a publication to my credit, I was hooked on writing. Partly in search of writing time, I drifted into academia where now, in addition to some administrative responsibilities, I teach various courses in law and economics. I bring home the minimum daily requirement of income and still have time to write the courtroom mysteries I have come to enjoy so much.
Tightly plotted books with engaging characters and a big payoff at the end—those were the kind of books that as a boy kept me tucked in odd corners of the house reading when I should have been doing almost anything else. My writing career began modestly, when, as a fifth-grader, I earned a D on an essay about wanting to be a writer. I was more encouraged when Signet published my first novel, Criminal Intent, and I left my law practice for teaching and writing.
Slack Tide, my latest, is a mystery featuring two fourteen-year-olds and a twelve-year-old who live on the Manatee River. I have also written nine legal thrillers, seven of them featuring the fearless Robin Starling. What I like about Robin are her athleticism and her refusal to take personally the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." In the courtroom she is pure gladiator. The books in the Robin Starling series of legal thrillers, in order, are Trial by Ambush, Juggling Evidence, Dog Law, Laughing Heirs, Devil in the Dock, Gone Ballistic, and Sexual Misconduct.
In terms of my writing, the outlier is a novel based on the life of Jesus, which has nothing to do with courtrooms and lawyers (unless we count the scribes as lawyers). Divine Invasion is not a parody, but a straight narrative account with a little juggling of the time element. For example: When Pilate provoked a riot by marching his soldiers into Jerusalem with his standards bearing the bust of the emperor, it was almost certainly prior to the beginning of Jesus' public life. Because the building tensions between Pilate and the Sanhedrin are part of Jesus' story, I moved the incident into the timeline of my novel. My other liberties revolve mostly around assigning personalities and personal characteristics to historical figures, including Jesus, his followers, Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod Antipas, and others. Some aspects of personality are apparent in the dialog in the gospel accounts, of course, but where the historical record is silent, I have relied on my imagination to fill in the details. In 1998, Booklist, the trade journal of the American Library Association, listed it as one of the top ten Christian novels of the year.
If you give one of my books a try and like it, please take time to post a book review on Amazon to serve as a guidepost to others in search of a good read. If you don't like it, of course, I wouldn't want to intrude on your busy schedule... :-)