Interview with Author N. Lombardi Jr.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Born and raised in New York City, I left to see the world at age 24 as a water engineer in the Peace Corps. For most of my life, I had never entertained the idea of becoming an author. My career as a groundwater specialist kept me busy enough, filled with both adventure and satisfaction with my job. However, while in Kenya I fell in love with a woman, and this relationship was doomed from the start. As a kind of catharsis, I began to write a semi-autobiographical story which became Journey Towards a Falling Sun. As I said, it was the need to purge my emotions that drove me, without immediate plans for publishing, as I was in the prime of life as regards to my vocation. But in 1985, I did manage to get an agent who was very enthusiastic over the manuscript. After fifteen rejections by big publishing houses, however, I gave up and shelved it, abandoning any thoughts about being a writer. It wasn’t published until 30 years later.

In 1996, while working in Laos, I learned of the secret war that the US conducted for 9 years, and resulted in the aerial bombardment that has given that country the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country of all time. As an American, I was ashamed of my ignorance of this matter, for I had never known of this secret war. I was so moved, I decided I would write an epic novel that would illustrate the consequences of that war which became The Plain of Jars, released in 2013. And from there my path as a writer began.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The idea for Justice Gone came from a true incident – the fatal beating of a homeless man in California. It was such an outrageous act, recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube, that I wondered what would happen if someone who saw the gruesome video would mete out their own version of justice to the police officers involved.

The novel then, is a tale of what happens in a small town following the fatal beating of a homeless Iraqi war vet at the hands of police. A cascading series of events, from street protests to a vigilante shooting of three police officers leads to a multi-state manhunt for the vet’s war time buddy. A controversial trial attracting nationwide attention dominates the second half of the novel. The story ends with a twist revealing the identity of the cop-killer

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Although deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers disturb me, I tried to avoid taking too strong a stand against the police, and just presented a possible (albeit extreme) scenario if this issue is not addressed. I also wanted readers to have a detailed look at the legal system in the US, i.e. the importance of lawyer tactics on both sides of the bench and of jury sentiment in deciding a case.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

First of all, I don’t consider myself a genre writer, I just write about things that move me. Having said that, as a reader I do enjoy mystery/thriller/suspense/crime, so I may be writing more of this kind of fiction from now on. It is much easier to write this sort of stuff than cross-cultural adventure novels such as my first two books, The Plain of Jars, set in Laos, and Journey Towards a Falling Sun, set in Kenya.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would have to say, the policemen that beat Jay Felson to death – Why, when he was unarmed, did it take 6 cops to bring him down and beat him till he died?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m really not active in the social media scene, so I would have to say Goodreads, despite the fact I find Goodreads a bit exploitive and disdainful of independent authors. As a reader, it is pretty good. I tried Facebook, but it isn’t focused enough and being an old fart, I’m mistrustful of Twitter. I love book bloggers, thank god for them!

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Although it sounds cliché, the first thing is to write well. Many independent authors, particularly those who self-publish, write with a quality barely above a high school student. You don’t have to be a wordsmith, but the book should not sound stilted. Read passages from a book by an acclaimed author than read your stuff. How does it compare?

Secondly, unless you’re with a big publishing house, be prepared to market your work. You should have a budget of $2,000 for this, even if you are very active on social media, because it’s always better for someone else to tout your book than you as the author. That means reviews, which can only result from exposure.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m in the process of fine-tuning another Tessa Thorpe novel, Woman in the Shadow. It takes place several years prior to the setting of Justice Gone, and is considerably darker, more of a psychological/suspense thriller. I actually wrote this before Justice Gone, but I was disappointed with the publisher’s reaction to it so I shelved it. Directly related to this, I’m looking for another publisher, so I hope it doesn’t take too long for the book to come out.

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Interview with Author James Rosenberg

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am a lawyer, married and have three kids.  Those are probably the three most important areas of my life.  When my kids were small, I started telling them long, involved stories that were embellishments of my real life.  One of them, a story about a lawyer with a soccer prodigy son, will be my next book coming out.  What I found is I could tell stories that used plot as a way to develop character.  I realized I loved stories that constantly moved and disliked narrative that was bogged down with description.  My stories depict what happens when a character is faced with difficult choices, which ultimately, I believe, is incredibly revealing.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I always wonder what is stronger, friendship or the drive for personal enrichment (money).  In my novel, one of the key plot drivers is that three long-time friends are forced to take the opposite sides of an important trial.  The three met the first day in law school but later in their careers find themselves as the attorney representing a woman suing a big company, the lawyer for the company and the judge in the trial.  I thought about all of the major conflict that could arise when each wants to do their best professionally, and how that could affect their friendship.  I have dealt in my career with some lawyers who are highly professional and others who will do virtually anything to win.  What happens if there is a mix of those types in an important case?  Every trial has enough stress.  Add in some volatile personalities and the results can be explosive.

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3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

With every character in the book, you will some good and some not so good.  The three main characters start in the same place ethically.  They are young and impressionable when they are in law school.  Yet just a few years later, they are in completely different places.  Mike still wants to help people and make a positive impact.  Jeri wants to avenge her feelings of rage since almost being raped.  Jack now just wants to become partner at his big law firm and make even more money. 

Sometimes a person doesn’t even realize when he is going down a path that leads towards becoming a lesser person.  Ultimately, lawyers are shaped by their environment.  The people a new lawyer works with teach them how to practice law ethically or how to cut corners.  Good often has to be nurtured and in its absence evil lurks.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

That one is easy.  I’m a lawyer and have been one for too long.  I have been through many trials and think most people find the drama inherent in a courtroom compelling.  I certainly do.  I know I can describe what happens in a courtroom with realism—and I think in a way that brings out the conflict.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I love Jack as a character.  He so flawed, but to me so human.  His primary motivation is success/money, and he lets the ultimate rewards dictate his actions.  I would want to ask Jack if he can see himself the way others see him and whether he would like what he saw.  He has so many good traits—He’s smart, witty, and an incredibly hard worker.  People want to be around him and he’s a leader.  But does he realize what path he’s put himself on because he has only one goal—money?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

This is my first published book and I am just learning how to market.  I am extremely unsophisticated when it comes to marketing.  I also consider myself to be one of the world’s worst self-promotors.  I am trying however.  So once I learn better how to use social medial to attract readers, I will come back and answer this question again.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you like writing, keep writing.  Write about things that interest you.  Don’t worry what other people like.  If you are moved by your writing, others will be also.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am still working at being a lawyer, but I am trying to write every day.  I am finishing up my next book, The Jersey, about the lawyer with a son who is a soccer prodigy.  It has a significant tragedy in it, but look at it as ultimately uplifting (as much as it can be after such a tragedy).  I have also started by next novel which has a young, rebellious student who kills the president and the effect this has on his family. 

Legal Reserves by James Rosenberg Review

Three friends who made it through law school and settled into their post-law school lives find themselves forced into a legal battle like no other in author James Rosenberg’s “Legal Reserves”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Three friends who made it through law school and settled into their post-law school lives find themselves forced into a legal battle like no other in author James Rosenberg’s “Legal Reserves”. Here is the synopsis.

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The Synopsis

A significant trial looms.

The two lawyers and the judge all have major reasons to worry: Jeri Richards, a newbie judge, is presiding over her first trial concerned she is too inexperienced to handle it. Mike Reigert, the plaintiff’s attorney, must try his biggest case because his client refuses the department store’s huge settlement offers–just to make sure that what they did to her won’t ever happen to anyone else. The company’s attorney, Jack Rogers, is told that he must win this trial or face banishment from his law firm.

If that weren’t enough, the three of them have been best friends since their first day of law school.

Back then, they were the cream of their law school and thought their legal careers would involve nothing but success . . . . Now, they aren’t so sure.

Jeri adored her two friends in law school. They helped her overcome the trauma of almost being raped. After graduating, she prosecuted the scum that preyed on the weak and became the youngest judge in her county.

Mike was planning to work in Geneva stopping international terrorism, but his uncle convinced him to help in his small practice in a sleepy town outside of Pittsburgh. Mike itches for more responsibility and finally comes to represent a woman mercilessly chained to a table until she confessed to a crime.

Jack craves the big money he would make if he became a partner at his huge law firm, and is willing to do anything to make it happen.

Now five years after graduating from law school they are thrown back together on opposite sides of a trial where Mike’s client seeks to regain her life while Jack will not stop to make sure the company prevails.

Jeri watches as the battles between her two buddies escalate until she has to intervene to protect the life of one of her friends. 

The Review

This is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys a good legal thriller novel. The story does a marvelous job of blending the real life legal system and the intricacies of it all with this fantastic character development between these three friends and the struggle to find their place within the legal system. 

The book does a great job of blending the past with the present, showing the friends who met in law school and the journey they went on to get into their legal professions. Mike’s good nature and belief in justice clashes with Jack’s hungry need to be the best and is balanced by Jeri’s love for them both and the love she has for law and order. The author writes with an expertise that speaks to the highs and lows of studying and practicing law, giving this thriller a sense of authenticity that not every legal thriller can have. 

The Verdict

This is a must own legal drama/thriller that you have to read to believe. A story of corruption, justice and the impact the practice of law can have on three friends make this a truly compelling read. Full of shocking twists and turns, this book is so edge of your seat good that by the final pages you will be left hanging on every word. If you are looking for a great legal drama to read this holiday season, be sure to preorder your copy of Legal Reserves by James Rosenberg or grab your copy when it releases on December 18th, 2018. 

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Rating: 10/10

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