1. Mr. Goodman, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. INJUSTICE, your newest thriller, comes out on September 15. Tell us a bit more about this book.
Hi Ethan, thanks for offering me this opportunity. “Injustice” is the second book in this series, and there is one more on the way. Like the previous book “Indefensible,” it is from the perspective of a federal prosecutor who, though well-meaning, has a tendency to let his personal feelings cloud his professional judgment. Injustice deals with several crimes that weave themselves together. One of the plots relates to the eight-year old conviction of a mentally-challenged young man and the discovery of old DNA evidence in the case. Another relates to the murder of the narrator’s sister-in-law. The third is about small-stakes political corruption.
It was my goal in both these books to tell a good mystery story with believable and complex characters. I would like readers to feel that the human story of the characters is at least as interesting as the crime mystery.
2. Who is Nick Davis and how did you come up with his character?
Nick Davis is just a guy. He fell into criminal prosecution without much intention. He is constantly struggling to reconcile the distinction between what is legal and what is just. In both books Nick Davis tends to get too involved in the investigations, believing himself to have special insight that the others around him lack. Meanwhile he is always trying to navigate the twists and turns of his complex personal life. He is devoted to his teenage daughter, he still grieves for a son who died in infancy decades ago, he is a little too entwined with his ex, and he is still on the hunt for true love.
3. How is INJUSTICE different from other legal mysteries in this genre?
I think INJUSTICE, like INDEFENSIBLE, differs from others in this genre in several ways. The human stories behind the who-done-it plot are well-developed and compelling and many readers who don’t generally read mysteries like the books for these character stories. The characters are complex, the narrator teeters on the edge of unreliability. The plots present questions of right and wrong, and of when the law should and shouldn’t be adhered to. The plots always head off in unexpected directions, there are multiple twists, there are many engaging side-characters.
4. How much of what you cover in INJUSTICE is real and how much is fiction?
It is all fiction. That said: I try to keep all aspects of the law, legal practice and courtroom procedure true-to-life. I try to make the emotions real and motivations of the characters believable. I guess like all fiction, it amounts to stories made up around a framework of reality.
5. What is your writing process? Outline or not?
I don’t actually write outlines. I usually start by writing down the major plot points. Usually three to six big things that will happen. From there I fill in minor plot points. Then I invariably start to write a “treatment” or prosaic narrative of the story but I get impatient and abandon it after a few sentences. Then I fill in more plot points. Then I start writing and, when the process is successful, I veer far away from the expected trajectory.
6. How did your experience help you to create legal thrillers?
I have a law degree which has given me the basic understanding of the law and legal practice. And I’ve studied and taught creative writing.
Additionally, I’ve lived an eclectic (meaning unfocused) life which has exposed me to all kinds of people and places and experiences. Add all this together and presto, legal thrillers!
7. What was the hardest struggle when starting off and how did you overcome it?
The hardest thing for me is developing the basic story idea. I don’t know how I overcome it, just eventually I get the seed of a concept and so I work it and work it and hope it develops into something. I’ve abandoned ideas that never got legs, sometimes after getting a substantial way into the writing. When the idea is good I sit down and start writing and the story carries me through the process. When the idea is bad the whole machinery grinds to a halt. But I love starting a book when I have a good concept–words just spill out onto the page at the very beginning.
8. You used to work on a Bering Sea crabber. What was that like
Exciting. I only worked on that boat for a couple months one summer, so I didn’t experience the atrocious winter weather on the Bering Sea. But it’s an amazing thing being out there in a storm.
9. What are your favorite pastimes?
Running, hiking with my dog, reading, skiing.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
I’ve already completed a third volume in the Nick Davis books. But the NEXT book, which I’ve started, is very exciting to me. It is a psychological suspense novel taking place in the wilds of Alaska in winter.