I have written about The Election by Jerome Teel before. I was personally excited to see someone writing about the intersection of law and politics. Jerome does a great job with that in this book. To me it has the feel of Tom Clancy’s political subplots or a Grisham political thriller.
A lawyer is one of the main characters, but the book is populated with an array of people who step on and off the stage. The chapters flow quickly from one point of view to another, and keep the plot hopping between presidential campaigns, a murder investigation, and more. The other thing I like about the book is that some of the characters are Christians, but nothing in that feels forced. But if you are looking for a strong Christian message, you won’t find it in the first half of the book but keep reading. (For more on this discussion check out Brandilyn Collins’ Forensics and Faith this week.) This afternoon, Jerome answered a few questions about his book and how he writes. Enjoy!
Jerome, The Election has a Clancy (minus the military plots) or Grishom feel to it. Is that what you were going for? I’ve never really thought about The Election having a Clancy feel. I do like the legal thrillers that Grisham writes and wanted it to lean in that direction with more of a redemptive element.
What gave you the general idea for the plot? What was the germ or spark behind the idea? The plot sort of determined itself. I knew how I wanted the manuscript to begin and end. In between, the characters took on lives of their own and I just wrote as I saw things play out. I can’t write with an outline. That may sound strange to some people and I don’t mean that there is no structure at all. I do have some limited structure and as I get into a manuscript I go back and outline what I’ve written. That helps me remember where the characters have been so I’ll know where they are going. I also keep a timeline of the events that transpire in the manuscript.
I’m still finding my style. I tend to plot like crazy until I start writing and then the characters take over. So how do you find time to write as a practicing attorney? Finding time to write was extremely difficult when I wrote The Election. It was some better when I wrote the manuscript for The Divine Appointment. I primarily write late at night. With The Election it was written almost exclusively from about 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. When I got to the point that I could see the end, I took a few days off from the office and finished. My practice, and technology, has evolved over the last several years. I still write primarily at night, but now I have the luxury of logging into the office from my home computer. So I can be at home writing but at the same time staying on top of what’s happening at the office with e-mail and instant messaging.
My writing time is very similar. I’m not really a night owl, but that seems to be the only time to write. So how does being an attorney help you as a writer? Writers have to write about things they know. As a lawyer, I know about the law and that certainly helps with that element in my stories. Also, being a lawyer helps with the analytical thinking that writers must possess. Fiction must be credible to be effective and I believe it takes some analytical thinking to make sure the story stays credible.
I see you have another book coming out next summer. Can you give us a quick synopsis of The Divine Appointment? The Divine Appointment centers around a political battle over a nomination to the Supreme Court. As with The Election, there is also a strong redemptive thread woven into the storyline. I’m right in the middle of the editing for this manuscript, and I’m really excited about it. It has some great characters and it reads well. In fact, it may actually read better than The Election. The hook is set in the first line and the story moves rapidly to the end. I think readers will enjoy it when it comes out in June, 2007.
Thanks for joining us, Jerome!