On Finally Presenting My Legal Experience in My Writing: Voodoo Included
By Jason Parent, author of Wrathbone and Other Stories
People who know I am a lawyer often ask me why I don’t write legal thrillers. The short answer is: I think the large majority of them are boring. And real law, not that canned half-hour to an hour TV version, can be extremely boring. Rarely are there smoking guns or “gotcha!” trial moments (unless one side is grossly unprepared). The bulk of litigation falls within the tedious discovery phase, which consists of months and months (if not years and years) of taking depositions, sifting through mountains of documents and generally having a miserable time of it. Beyond that, the vast majority of cases settle before trial, so a real legal “thriller” would sound something like this:
Lawyer: “I just spent 80 hours a week for the last 8 years reading line after line of corporate documents relating to how to make toothpaste, generating bills of more than $200,000. The company is offering $30,000 to settle this case right now, this night before trial.”
Client: “I’ll take it.”
Well, I finally wrote a story that takes place largely in a courtroom: “The Only Good Lawyer,” in my newly released collection from Comet Press, Wrathbone and Other Stories. Of course, it’s voodoo horror and not a legal thriller per se, but it does describe several aspects of a criminal trial and how not to represent your client in one.
This is not the first time I used my legal experience in my writing. In some cases, I have used actual legal arguments that I have tried myself and won, yet the public perception of litigation is so far askew of what actually can and does happen that my real-life scenarios have, on occasion, been questioned as unauthentic. Compounding this confusion is that the law varies, sometimes drastically, from state to state, country to country. Just think of the death penalty, for example.
C’est la vie.
Admittedly, I have also included legal theories that have not been tried and tested, with one example rearing its head in my paranormal thriller, Seeing Evil. And I have had to re-write entire sections of an upcoming book due to an incorrect assumption. Who knew that Kansas doesn’t have halfway houses?
The people of Kansas, obviously.
And I should have asked them first. Fortunately, I was able to discuss the entire parole process with a very helpful gentleman with integral, first-hand knowledge of it and another on the other side of the law who lived through it. The moral: authors, do your research!
And also, don’t go to prison.
But should readers have to do their own due diligence? Of course not. They read to enjoy, and whether wrong or right about the law, they may be unable to suspend disbelief and enjoy your work if the law you incorporate doesn’t ring true.
So what do you do? Write the common public misconception, giving (for example) all law enforcement agencies access to facial recognition software or CSI-like forensic teams with state-of-the-art resources? Write the accurate law for the jurisdiction in which the book takes place (e.g., fault versus no-fault states for distribution of marital property in divorce proceedings)? Cite to the law you use?
I don’t know the answer, but I’d rather be right and thought wrong than the reverse, so that’s what I go with. But whatever you choose, you should at least research it well enough to know the correct answer. Where novel, invent your own answer – the law is constantly changing and your book lives in a fictional world even if it’s not unlike the real one. So much of law is imagination and interpretation. In practice, just like in your writing, you have creative license.
If your character spits on the sidewalk in front of a police officer, the correct punishment does not involve an alien anal probe.
Unless you’re one of those authors. If so, probe away.
Wrathbone and Other Stories, Synopsis
- Print Length: 160 pages
- Publisher: Comet Press
- Publication Date: October 3, 2016
Terror follows those who let it into their hearts.
Guests of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris attend a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. On that fateful night, a great man falls, but he is not alone. For Henry and Clara, the night is only the beginning of lives wrought with jealousy, madness, and horror.
The Only Good Lawyer
Bradley is a savvy defense attorney with no scruples. Under his representation, many a guilty man has gone free. But when a voodoo priest takes the stand, Bradley soon discovers that he, too, is on trial, and the punishment for guilt may be more than he could bear.
Dorian loves himself, and why wouldn’t he? Every guy wants to be him, and every girl wants to be with him. He would trade all he has to make his looks last forever, but bargaining with the devil may leave him short a soul.
For the Birds
Nev’s best friend is his parrot. In fact, it’s his only friend… and his only ally when his home is invaded.
Revenge is a Dish
Maurice has landed a dream job, chef for a rich couple on their yacht. The wife has carnal desires for him. Maurice has some carnal desires of his own.
Jason Parent, Biography
In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.
In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it’s harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he’s back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that’s another story.
When he’s not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody’s head off – he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.
Praise for Wrathbone and Other Stories
“From the eerie opening tale to the grisly closer, and all of the wonderfully mean-spirited tales in-between, Wrathbone is a winner!” — Jeff Strand, author of Dead Clown Barbecue
“Wrathbone and Other Stories is a hard-hitting collection that you can completely immerse yourself in. The title story is a beautifully written period tale of love and tragedy. I finished and realized that I was breathing shallowly because I was genuinely affected that much. A tale that leaves you breathless? Yes, please!” – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of the Bram Stoker Award winner Little Dead Red.
“An elegantly written novella of madness, murder, and demons, Jason Parent’s Wrathbone reads like Edgar Allan Poe’s take on ‘Jacob’s Ladder.'” –Adam Howe, author of Tijuana Donkey Showdown, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, and Black Cat Mojo
“Jason Parent is a master of controlling how you perceive the characters and the events in these stories, making sure you read it exactly how he wants you to read it. It’s like mind control. Powerful stuff!” – Nev Murray, Confessions of A Reviewer
Want to Feature?
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