One of the lessons I learned early as a writer was to write what I know. That’s why my first heroine had the name Dani, lived in Lincoln, NE, and worked at a TV station. That’s why my second hero and heroine were based on my grandparents and their love story in my hometown of North Platte, NE. That’s also why Ciara Turner, the heroine of Dying for Love in Cherry Blossom Capers, is an attorney living in the neighborhood she does in the D.C. area.
You see, I went to law school inside the Beltway at George Mason University School of Law. One goal of many law students is to land a prestigious clerkship between graduation and that first law firm job. We start preparing for the application process in our second year. Then we send out approximately 100 packets of information to sitting judges. In my case, that packet included a copy of my published casenote, plus cover letter, resume, and more. I was targeting judges in Indiana, Virginia, Maryland, Iowa, Nebraska, and a couple other places.
Because I thought I might want to teach at some point, a clerkship was an important piece of the puzzle. It plain looks good. But it also gave me an incredible opportunity to see the legal system from a judge’s perspective. After interviewing with several US district court or magistrate court judges, I was blessed to land a clerkship with Senior Judge Loren Smith of the Court of Federal Claims. It was a great experience. One that has opened many doors for me.
So if you read Dying for Love and wonder if the relationship between former clerks and their judge is realistic, it is. When you are working for a judge and taking his thoughts and legal theories to craft drafts of opinions and legal memos, you develop a deep relationship. One that would make you think you are better equipped than the marshals or deputies assigned to find his killer.